My journey to find the best Bible

… or, ESV Pitt Minion in black goatskin review

I have been reading Mark Bertrand’s Bible Design Blog for a few years now. Through his long-form writing, I have come to appreciate beautiful typography, fine craftsmanship, single-column layouts, and attention to detail in modern Bible-making. I even helped him with a website update several years ago.

For the longest time, though, my reading was just that—reading. I couldn’t imagine spending so much money on a single Bible. I already had a few Bibles in the house, and there wasn’t any pressing need to buy another one. This spring, after saving up some money, I decided to invest in a premium Bible. I made a list of requirements, and I read and watched just about every review I could find on the world wide web. I was searching for the one Bible, the elusive unicorn of typographic design. I read articles about how that Bible doesn’t exist, and that I should just come to terms with the fact that I shall have to acquire a few different Bibles, each one for its own intended purpose.

I became addicted to the idea of single-column design. I read all about it. I could absolutely sign Mark Ward’s Bible Typography Manifesto. Two years before the search began, my wife bought me the single-volume ESV Reader’s Bible.

Once I was willing to seriously consider the double-column layout, I went back to the drawing board, as it were, and had another look at the available options. I have yet to see a Bible from R. L. Allan that I like (sorry folks). But Schuyler is a different story! Their Quentel is very intriguing, especially the Personal size version.

(Photos via

The only problem is the price. I live in Canada, and shipping is around 50 USD, and I’m probably going to get hit with import tax fees, etc. The Bible itself is about 175 USD. Evangelical Bible really needs to figure a better distribution model for their awesome Bibles. A lot more people would buy them if the shipping were cheaper (e.g. partner with Amazon).

After much thought, I decided to order the Pitt Minion. Another huge reason was its price. It costs about 150 USD and I even found a great deal on Amazon, so I ended up paying about 100 USD (shipped). Compare that to the 225+ USD for the Quentel. The Pitt Minion is a steal! I opted for the black goatskin which to my eyes and heart looks the best. Just as a side note, you can get the Clarion for about that price but with a much inferior leather cover.

Just look at that delicious grain!

The book opens flat after a few days of handling it.

Notice the red under gold art gilding on the sides of the pages. Just gorgeous.

I love the red accent that the ribbons provide.

(Photos by me, you can use them for any purpose)

While I was waiting for it to arrive in the mail, I was rather nervous about the whole thing. But as soon as I opened the box, I was relieved and happy with the new Bible. It far exceeded by expectations. It’s even more beautiful than in the pictures.

Right out of the box, the Pitt Minion doesn’t open flat. You have to handle it and read it for about a week, and then it will happily oblige. The quality of the print is exceptional. Many reviewers have said that the font is small. That might be true in the technical sense, but given the high quality of the printing, the font doesn’t feel small. Think of it like this: your normal Bible is like an old TV, it has very low resolution and unnatural colors. The Pitt Minion is your latest 4K smart TV with life-like colors. Premium Bibles stand out not just wit their binding and covers, but also with the quality of the printing. I find the font size of the Pitt Minion luxurious.

Then there is the question of the double column. I remain convinced on a theoretical level that the single column layout is superior in readability. However, it does in a sense waste space in poetry sections. This leads to more bulk in the final form factor of the Bible. In practice, I don’t feel any hindrance in reading the Pitt Minion. My eye can track the words easily, and I don’t find I lose my place often when reading for extended periods of time. Moreover, there is something to be said about the Bible looking like a Bible, and double column is certainly the more traditional look. I realize this is a pretty weak argument. With Cambridge, you are purchasing a piece of history or Bible publishing history. Cambridge University Press is the world’s oldest Bible printer and publisher. They have been in continuous operation since 1591 when they published the Geneva Bible.

Once you handle a premium Bible, you won’t settle for inferior quality. I have been reading from the Pitt Minion for several months now. I have carried it many places. I travelled to Europe with it. I certainly don’t baby this Bible. I fold back one side of the cover when reading, I roll it up when it’s closed, and I take it with me when going out. I find it delightful, and it’s truly a great all-around Bible.

This article was first published on November 2, 2017. As you can see, there are no comments. I invite you to email me with your comments, criticisms, and other suggestions. Even better, write your own article as a response. Blogging is awesome.