Update: August 31 2018.
The Legibility Equation – Perhaps the most pragmatic question in Bible design is that of legibility. Is the Bible easy to read? Sometimes other goals literally crowd out the most important one of all. One of the biggest mistakes customers make in determining legibility is font size. Font size is an important variable – but only one of many that determine the legibility equation. Here is a shot at giving the legibility equation:
Legibility is a function of the following variables: font type + font size + line matching + space between letters + space between lines of text + paper opacity + format. There are many Bibles that have a font size that may be 25% smaller than another Bible, but actually be more legible! There are many reasons that contribute to this – but one of them is that some fonts are infinitely more legible – often because their characters are more bold and dense. Another important factor is line matching and ‘see through’ or ‘ghosting.’ See through often produces a dark glare that makes reading more difficult. This is particularly a factor with Bible paper – which is much thinner than normal book paper. Line matching allows lines to mirror each other which mitigates the ‘see through’ effect. Space between letters and lines is also an important contributing factor. Pages that appear crowded make reading more difficult. Finally certain typesetting formats may be inherently easier to read because of smaller character counts per line – etc. Suffice it to say – legibility is a function of many contributing factors. Perhaps the most accurate way to determine legibility is to actually read a few paragraphs of a given Bible and make that determination through encountering the text. We do our best to provide PDF files so you can make those judgments before you purchase a Bible. When researching legibility, please look further than the size of the font!
There is a lot of to say for 2018. As we have said before, the premium Bible market is dominated by several players: Schuyler, Allan, Crossway & Cambridge. Here is a brief summary of products from each publisher.
Schuyler has published the personal size edition of its regular size Quentel version in the NASB and ESV. The Canterbury also has a personal size companion. The Quentel NKJV personal size is due in a few months and is available for preorder. NIV Personal Size Quentels will come early in 2019. The rise of the personal size was jump-started, in part, by Mark Bertrand’s raving review of the ESV Personal Size ESV. Besides the Personal Size Quentels, The NASB Quentel Thinline has been on the best seller list since its publication. The popular Canterbury KJV – now comes in 3 styles – Goatskin, Calfskin and Cowhide – the typesetting is really a remarkable work of art. Schuyler just announced that it will add a wide margin to the Canterbury range which will be published in early 2019. (Here is an essay which outlines the beginning of the relationship between Schuyler Bibles and the Danish typesetting company who produced the Canterbury). Schuyler will likely add a wide margin edition to its entire Quentel range.
Cambridge recently republished their popular Turquoise (not to be confused with a color) Bible which has receive excellent reviews. It stand in the same class as the Allan Longprimer or Schuyler Canterbury.
The British company, R.L. Allan, continues to publish its distinctive “Highland Goatskin” Bibles from relatively small binderies in the UK. Unfortunately, production supply has not kept up with demand, and therefore many Allan Bibles are out of stock before they reach the shores of the New World. We do have limited quantities of the Allan ESV Study Bible and the Calfskin Longprimer and Longprimer Sovereign.
Crossway continues to be the only large publisher who has continued to publish premium Bibles (that, of course, is our opinion) – The Crossway Legacy, Omega and Reader’s Set are amazing Bibles, particularly at their price points. Crossway will have its best selling Study Bible printed in Italy and bound in the Netherlands in goatskin – available in only a few weeks! 2 of the 3 colors are exclusive to evangelicalbible.com.
Crossway will also have its cowhide reader available this fall – and this can be preordered now as well!