NIV Single-Column Bible in Ebony Premium Leather (Zondervan)

photo 1I’ve had a fortunate influx of nice Bibles lately.  My house has been a bit of a revolving door for such as these!  One recent addition, which came to my door as a pleasant surprise, is Zondervan’s 2011 text edition Single-Column NIV in premium leather (here and here).

In these “latter days” of ebooks and cheap glued paperbacks, I’m always impressed when popular Christian publishing houses release quality

Legacy (left) and NIV (right)
Legacy (left) and NIV (right)

products.  While Zondervan has yet to catch up with Crossway regarding diverse offerings of quality Bibles, what they have here is a promising start.  The obvious comparison for me is the ESV Legacy Bible (another single-column Bible without references), so I will occasionally compare the two in what follows.

Cover and Binding

Zondervan labels the cover material with the generic moniker “premium leather.”  Premium photo 4leather could describe any number of leathers, ranging from goatskin to calfskin to lambskin to cowhide, so this is quite unhelpful.  However, after handling the Bible, I would suspect it is calfskin.  It has the same supple, smooth, soft feel of the calfskin ESV Heritage I reviewed previously.  It is a joy to handle.  I wish the inside of the cover were lined with leather photo 3or even some synthetic, “leather-like” material, but instead it has a thick paper lining (like most Bibles).  I will never understand why publishers find paper acceptable on the inside when they use premium leather on the outside.  Even so, this Bible is extremely limp, certainly more than Crossway’s “top-grain leather” featured in their ESV Legacy Bible (pictured below).  Incidentally, the ESV Legacy is fantastic in its trutone cover options, if you’re in the market for a good, single-column, affordable ESV.

photo 3As for the binding, this is a well-executed sewn binding (which is one of the few mandatory features to a lasting Bible, in addition to good cover material and good paper).  The spine features raised bands, which I always love and heartily applaud.  This, combined with the perimeter stitching, gives the book an  elegant flavor.  I haven’t seen a Bible spine I like this well since my Tyndale Select NLT. .

Text Block

As for the virtues of a single-column format, please see my review of Allan’s ESVSCR.  Suffice it to say, single-column settings cause the Bible to read more like a book and less like a dictionary and are easier on the eyes (though the latter is subjective).

photo 5
Legacy (bottom) and NIV (top)

I like the column’s placement.  While the ESV Legacy, following the “renaissance ideal,” pushes the text inside and up on the page, the NIV is largely centered.  This gives the gutter more room to breathe.  Where the Legacy shines and the NIV does not, however, is in its line matching.  Since the NIV lacks line matching, ghosting is more apparent though still not a huge issue.  The font size is not specified, but I would estimate 8 pt.  For how large the page spread is, I would have preferred 9 pt. font or larger, but most will not have a problem reading it.

Other features

I was pleasantly surprised to find art-gilding on the pages of this NIV!  While the red-under-gold is fainter than other Bibles, it is an elegant addition that adds to the aesthetic appeal.  Two black ribbons are included, which is better than one (though I wish they were wider). Bible dimensions are 9.75 x 6.5 x 1.5″, which makes a great desk or lap Bible.

Shades of Gilding! Bottom to top: R. L. Allan, Schuyler, Zondervan NIV, ESV Legacy.
Shades of Gilding! Bottom to top: R. L. Allan, Schuyler, Zondervan NIV, ESV Legacy.


If I were an NIV guy, there is a chance I would settle on this Bible over an R. L. Allan NIV due simply to its single-column format.  I may be saying that only because I haven’t yet handled Allan’s NIV, which will change any day now (as my siblings and I ordered one for my dad’s upcoming birthday!).  But as far as I’m aware, this is the only available full-size single column NIV on the market (except the edition with cross references, available here and here; and I believe there is a Giant Print Compact NIV in single column).  Soon Cambridge will feature the NIV in their Clarion reference line, but even so this offering by Zondervan will compete.  If it had a bit larger font and a leather (or even synthetic leather) lined cover, there would be little to whine about.  So if you’re in the market for a nice NIV, with references or without, the Zondervan Single Column NIV is a good choice.

And lest we get lost in leather-bound English-Bible luxury, please remember to pray for translations in the remaining 1,859 Bible-less languages in our world. Click here to see my heart on the matter and to even support the work of Bible translation.

photo 1 photo 5

behold the floppiness
behold the floppiness

5 thoughts on “NIV Single-Column Bible in Ebony Premium Leather (Zondervan)

  1. If this is the Bible I looked at the paper was 24 lb. Is that the case? If so no line matching makes for severe ghosting. What is your impression?

    1. Thanks for posting Paul. I’m not sure what the paper is… 24lb could be right, but it isn’t indicated anywhere I can see. Ghosting is average to bad….nothing abnormal, but definitely not on par with some other quality Bibles. I’ve never been too averse to ghosts though, so it doesn’t bother me that much!

  2. In regards to 24lb paper, the ESV Legacy has 24lb 36GSM paper. The Zondervan NIV SC has about 200 pages less than the Legacy; however the NIV is approximately the same thickness, which indicates the NIV has thicker paper. Both of the Allan NIV Editions do have line matching, but Line Matching doesn’t always solve the issue with ghosting, which leaves only the paper and print as remaining factors. When you receive the Allan NIV Bold Print Readers edition, which I believe is just an enlargement of the Allan NIV1, maybe you should compare it to Zondervan’s Ultrathin Large Print without line matching, which has fairly opaque paper for as thin as it is, just a suggestion.

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