I saw this Bible a few weeks ago at the Basics Conference at Alistair Begg's church and was impressed. The font was large enough to be easily read while teaching but the Bible was still of a manageable size. The brown top grain leather looked, felt, and even smelled great. (I'm not crazy; my mother had me tested!) Instead of buying it at the conference (at a generous 30% discount), I chose to wait and purchase it through another online vendor (I had been given a gift card). When it arrived, I was surprised to find that the cover looked, smelled, and smelled like a Trutone cover (it had that "rubber tire" smell). I wouldn't care if I hadn't paid $100 for it---I could get a Trutone for a lot less. I've contacted Crossway to see what they suggest. I know they use different publishing houses and sometimes product "slips through" that doesn't quite match Crossway's quality criteria. So, overall, it is a good Bible but keep your eyes open.
This Bible is disappointing on several levels. First, you need a microscope to read the cross-references. Wouldn't it have been better if Crossway had left them out and upped the font to 11 point? Or they could have made a verse-by-verse edition with cross-references after each verse. I have an attractive NKJV Bible in that format, and the font is 11 point. Very readable. Second, the paper is extremely thin, making it hard, even frustrating, to turn the pages. Third, if you want black-letter, you have to purchase the top-of-the-line brown leather edition, which costs nearly $100. Fourth, the 10.5 font seems small for its size. It might be the font design, or it might be my aging eyes, but I would not consider the font in this Bible to be large print. This is not surprising since Crossway considers 8-point font to be large print in another line they publish.
I have the large print Tru-Tone in 12.5 font, which is comfortable and enjoyable to read. However, the book has considerable bulk, so it's not a Bible I carry with me. It would be great if Crossway published something in-between like that excellent NKJV I mentioned above. Unfortunately, according to the Crossway web site, such a Bible does not seem to be in their plans.
Almost every Bible publisher puts out a light-weight and readable edition. However, I prefer the ESV translation. It is based on the RSV, of which I am very familiar through years of reading it. Crossway publishes an over-abundance of tiny-print Bibles, study Bibles, compact Bibles, and just about every kind of Bible you could want, but nothing in the affordable in-between niche. Here's a novelty: publish a basic text Bible with no bells and whistles, a Bible with a comfortable 11-11.5 font in a handy, portable format. Or does Crossway think that the ESV is so special that consumers will be happy with whatever they can get?
Until such an in-between edition is published, I'll continue to carry my midnight-blue NKJV and read my large-print ESV at home. As for the edition under review, I gave it to my sister as a gift.
I've never had tru tone before and have been impressed with it so far. The quality of the Bible itself is excellent. It opens flat, print is clear and of a good size, and there is little bleed through. The footnotes, however, are microscopic, but that's not really an issue since I tend to make my own.
Paper quality is far superior to the Thinline NIV I recently bought for about the same price. OK it has a leather cover but, honestly, the leather is so cheap I almost prefer the trutone.
My only gripe is that it'd be great to have a thinline, large print Bible with wide margins. But I guess you can't have everything.
Crossway has filled the ESV large print void with their recently released ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible. It's a true thinline at one inch thick, but still has a 10.5 font and manages to find room for 80,000 cross-references. The unique layout sets the cross-references away from the text, improving readability.
Cover and Binding
The cover of this edition is an imitation leather known as TruTone. I really like Trutone. It has a great look and feel. I like how they press designs into the cover. The cover feels soft to the touch. It has a smooth grain- kind of like calfskin. The edges of the cover are stitched. This helps improve the quality of the cover construction, making the Bible last longer. It is paper lined, which makes the cover slightly stiff. The binding is Smyth sewn but it does have some difficulty lying flat in Genesis and Revelation. I suspect it will be OK once I've used it for a while and broken it in. I've already noticed it's softening up as I use it. It's available in several colors and styles.
The paper is thin and does have some show-through but it's not as bad as I expected. Some show-through is to be expected in a slim-line of only 1 inch thick, but this paper is more opaque than many Bibles with thicker paper. The paper is white without any tinted shade (such as cream).
The font is a sharp and readable 10.5. In my opinion it has just the right amount of boldness to be comfortable to read for long periods of time. It's about a medium darkness.
This is a red-letter edition. The red letters continue throughout the New Testament, on into Revelation. I wish all red-letter texts would do that. The red text is about a medium shade. I found it easy to read.
The text includes the time-honored line-matching printing style of the renaissance. I love this printing style because there're no distractions between the lines of text. This gives the page a cleaner look and improves readability.
Verse numbers are smaller but just a little bolder than the text. They're not bold enough to be distracting, but just enough to make specific verses easier to find in the paragraphs.
The headings are in italics. To my eye they look slightly bolder than the rest of the text. Not much- about the same as the verse numbers.
References and Notes
This edition has over 80,000 cross-references. References and notes are located in different locations, away from the text. This helps make the page more readable. References are placed in the right column after the last verse on the page. The references have bold verse numbers and then the standard letters keying the reference to the text. If I were to voice one complaint it would be the size of the fonts of the references. The font is tiny compared to the large print font of the Bible text. I didn't have any trouble reading it, but it was smaller than I would have liked; especially when you go from reading a nice comfortable-sized text to the small font of the references.
The translation notes are located at the bottom of the page and span both columns. They are keyed to the text with numbers, keeping in line with standard Bible publishing. The fonts for the translation notes are larger than the references and are much easier to read.
The concordance is 60 pages and has 3 columns per page. There are more entries than I expected. It has 52 entries for "God".
There are 8 color maps on thick glossy paper. The colors are more like earth-tone shades. One addition I would like to see would be an index to maps. This would map the maps more functional. The maps are labeled really well and I didn't have any trouble finding anything I was looking for.
There is one ribbon. It is burgundy, .25 inches wide, and sticks out about 3.5 inches. It's plenty long enough to be useable.
Crossway's Large Print Thinline Reference Bible has a great layout. By placing references and notes in specific locations away from the Bible text they've made the text more readable. The fonts look great. If you only have one ESV edition in your library, the Large Print Thinline Reference is a great choice to consider. It's my favorite size for a Bible. It would make a fine reading and carry Bible.
Pictures for this review can be seen on Bible Buying Guide.
Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review.