My Personal Reference ESV is in the mail, but thanks to Scott Kay I can share a few photos of the genuine leather edition. First, let's take a look at the inside:
Scott placed a Compact ESV on top for comparison purposes. As you can see, the Personal Reference is a true single column, paragraphed text, with references on the inside margin. The type size is small (7.4 pt) but the proportions look good to me. Scott also confirmed that what Crossway said about the paper quality is true: it seems better than the stuff they've used in the past. Also, he saw visible stitching between the pages, and no sign of this being a glue-and-stitch hybrid. So we know for sure that the genuine leather edition is sewn -- insert sigh of relief here.
My first impression of the layout is that the single column setting looks good. But there's a little bit of "studybiblitis" in evidence with the superfluous lines bracketing the text and the gray block behind the introductions. I'm reserving judgment until I've had a chance to spend some time with one in person.
As you can see in the picture above, the proportions are similar to those of a Cambridge Pitt Minion edition. That really comes as a surprise to me. Crossway has delivered the Personal Reference in a more compact form than I expected. When I review the Personal Reference in earnest, I'll have more to say about this, but for now let me just note that I'm impressed. I wouldn't have minded a thicker book with larger type, but the comparison shot is pretty compelling.
Of course, this is a genuine leather binding, which means it's stiff and not very pliable. After a minimum of use, Scott's cover is already jutting up into the air. Someone asked recently in a comment why you'd want to rebind a Bible that's already genuine leather. The picture illustrates one reason. As far as I know, there aren't any plans for Crossway to offer the Personal Reference in calfskin (or the wonderful cordovan calf), but perhaps if the edition is successful, that might change.
More about the Personal Reference very soon. In the meantime, those of you who already have them are welcome to chime in here -- and if you blog about it, feel free to post the link in the comments.