OVERVIEW. Any economy Bible is not going to fare as well here as a Bible with premium print and paper, but for what it is, the PVLPS does a good job. I spent two weeks doing my daily Bible reading out of the PVLPS, except for a morning or two when I had left it at the church building the night before. Here’s what I thought: SIZE. No problems here. In fact, I might go so far as to say the size is excellent. The PVLPS doesn’t have the paperback-like form factor that I generally prefer in reading Bibles, but the combination of large page size and light weight has an appeal all its own. I wouldn’t think twice about one-handing the PVLPS, and I never noticed it as a physical object when I was reading from it. LAYOUT. Love the column width here. Purely love it. Despite claiming to be a large-print Bible, with 9-point font, the PVLPS isn’t, really. However, 9-point font in a 6” x 9” has another consequence. Because the page is so wide and the print is relatively small, you get a lot of characters per line, even in a double-column Bible. Generally, I’m happy if a double-column Bible has more than 40 characters per line. The PVLPS has something like 47 cpl. That line length works just fine in prose. It’s amazing in poetry. As anybody who reads Bible reviews knows, text set poetically is the nemesis of double-column Bibles. Because most lines of poetry in the Bible are longer than 35-40 cpl, the conflict between poetic line and column width produces a bunch of one-word “widows”, last words of lines that are shoved down to the next line due to lack of space. Not so with the PVLPS. During the review period, my Bible reading schedule took me through Song of Solomon, which in the NLT is entirely set in poetry (in addition to being rather frank about the subject matter). Line-length problems were so few and far between that I didn’t even notice how good the line length was. There are several chapters in the PVLPS version of Song of Solomon that contain only a single widow, which is ridiculously good for a double-column Bible. Props to the designer! The gutter in the PVLPS is only a quarter-inch wide. In a thicker Bible, that might cause some problems. However, because the PVLPS is slimmer, it doesn’t need as much gutter in the middle of the Bible as a Foundation SCR-sized Bible might. There aren’t enough pages to pile up under the page that you’re reading, forcing text to slide down into the gutter. I’d be happier if the PVLPS had a ⅜” gutter, which is typical in larger Bibles, but it works fine as is. This isn’t a Bible where the gutter bugs me. In addition, the PVLPS is a black-letter Bible, which makes reading it easier. This is, in fact, one of my favorite things about low-end budget Bibles. It’s more expensive to print the words of Christ in red (or pink or orange or. . .), so in an effort to cut costs, publishers go to black-letter. Cheaper and less distracting—it’s a win-win! Sadly, the PVLPS isn’t line-matched. I’m not sure why not. This is a 2012 design, well after line-matching became a thing in the Bible-publishing world. Like all thinlines, the PVLPS is printed on relatively lightweight, translucent paper, so it’s a Bible that really would have benefited from line-matching. It isn’t, so when the Bible is opened, the paper has a sickly grayish-yellow hue that is reminiscent of the China-print Foundation SCR’s from 10 years ago. This is not a happy association for me to make. However, I do like most things about the setting of the PVLPS. I think the 9-point FF Meta Serif is a great choice for the text of a Bible (hooray for a Bible that uses text figures instead of titling figures!), and I think the bolded, italic sans-serif section headings make for a nice contrast. This contrast between serifed text and bolded, italic, sans-serif headings is one of my favorite things about one of my favorite Bibles, the Zondervan NASB Thinline. It’s nice to see the stylistic choice repeated in the PVLPS. I like the chapter numbers and page headings in the PVLPS too. The one thing that I don’t like is the book titles. They’re small, and they’re set in a dingy gray bar that comes across mainly as a failed effort to be cool. Tyndale would have been much better served to use a more traditional style of titling.
PRODUCTION QUALITY. Well. . . the PVLPS is a low-end China-print thinline. Each of those things by itself is a red flag; together, they pretty much guarantee that the text block is going to have some problems. So it is here. The ghosting in this paper is so bad that it looks like each text column is set in a light-gray sidebar box. I’m not much bothered by ghosting, so I can read the PVLPS just fine, but those who are sensitive to intrusions from the spirit world would do well to look elsewhere. As for the print quality itself, to be honest, I can’t really tell. The ghosting tends to make fine lines in the Bible look a little blurry, whether they actually are blurry or not. I think, though, that this is actually a pretty good print job as China-print print jobs go.
Overall, the PVLPS does some things that are really important to me really well, and it falls short in some areas that aren’t as important to me. I liked using this one for a reader. I liked it well enough that it’s got me thinking. I’ve already resolved that in 2016, I do not want to use the NASB for my daily readings. In fact, I want to read from a translation that’s as different from the NASB as I can get. I might use the KJV (which I suspect everybody ought to read through at least once anyways), but I’m also considering using a dynamic-equivalent translation. I’d been thinking most about the REB, but my Cambridge REB Standard Text is a Bible with some serious gutter problems. Now, I’m thinking about giving the PVLPS a shot instead. CONCLUSION. Self-evidently, any Bible that reads well enough to have me considering it for a daily reader is a good reader. I’ll give it a 9/10 here. Overall, then, the PVLPS nets a strong 25/30, mainly by virtue of being a good reader in a convenient size for super-cheap.
All photos courtesy of Brian Meyer