"My poor eyes can't take the strain!" This lament reaches my inbox every couple of days, aimed at the increasing difficulty aging readers experience with the tiny print inside their Bibles. In a context where 12 pt. type is considered large print, this is not surprising. Sadly, there isn't a miraculous ultra-thin, super-large-print compact Bible on the market that nobody's told you about.
Victorinox, however, the makers of the iconic Swiss Army Knife, have a solution:
If you are straining your eyes to figure out what's in the picture above, it's a magnifying glass. This model knife is called an Explorer Plus. (The Plus means there's an extra screwdriver, a pin, and a ballpoint concealed within the handle.) I'm not sure which styles of SAK come with the magnifying glass, but if you struggle with the small print, you might consider finding out.
Antiquarians and consulting detectives throughout the ages have availed themselves of a magnifying glass in order to read fine print (and discover clues). The principal is similar to that employed by the cheap "reading glasses" they sell at the drug store: a little lens magnifies the size of what you're looking at, making it easier to see. The problem with the glasses is they slip to the tip of your nose and make people think you're a judgmental librarian type. With the Swiss Army Knife, they assume you were going for the scissors and pulled the wrong lever.
I wouldn't exactly call the level of magnifcation provided by the SAK "robust." Laying on the page, it just about doubles the size of what's beneath, which is not too shabby. Examining the photo below, you'll notice that the word "hear" in the magnifier is a lot easier to read than the word "hide" in the next verse. Wave one of these in front of the R. L. Allan Compact Text ESV and that 6.5 pt. type expands to, like, 11. If you hold it back a bit, you're in large print territory.
Whenever the Levenger catalog arrives in my mailbox, I always flip through to make sure the Franklin Library Stand Desk is still there. One day, I hope to have one of these -- or a vintage equivalent -- in my office, with a nice big lectern Bible on top:
See the little globe poking up above the book? That's a magnifier. It comes with the desk, which is a thoughtful touch. Here's another image, illustrating the domed magnifier a little better:
The idea is that, as you're reading, you place the dome on top of the page and it makes the words freakishly large. If you carried one of these things in the wild, you'd be mistaken for a fortune teller -- not to mention the risk of starting unintentional fires. But in the comfort and privacy of your reading abode, using such an aid is perfectly acceptable.
For reading out and about, I recommend the Swiss Army Knife.