Bible Design Comparison: NKJV Signature Series Pocket Companion vs. Pitt Minion

Over at Mark Bertrand’s Blog on Bible design, NKJV users have posed this question several times: What is the best compact/pocket NKJV? If you’re going for a low-end,

left–ESV PM; right–NKJV SSPC

“beater” Bible, the Thomas Nelson Pocket Companion is your only option–and it’s a pretty good option. There are a plethora of inexpensive editions that are sturdy (smythe sewn) and relatively easy to read.

But, usually the person asking the question is considering investing in a high-end, premium leather edition that will last a lifetime and look nice while doing it. At this level, you have two to choose from: The Signature Series edition of the Pocket Companion (SSPC), and Cambridge’s Pitt Minion (PM). A while back, I bought a tan calfskin SSPC for my nephew as a gift for his baptism, and I took advantage of the opportunity to compare it with my wife’s brown goatskin ESV PM (both purchased with Amazon gift cards, btw).  Here’s the breakdown:


Where the Pocket Companion wins:

The SSPC has a lot going for it.  The leather cover is much more limp than the Pitt Minion’s

I love the look of this little Bible. The color and texture of the leather, the three raised hubs, the hand-held size, and the classy logo on the bottom of the spine come together nicely into a beautiful package.

rather stiff goatskin, and the plush leather is really nice to hold; your fingers sink right into the smooth casing, and the wrinkled grain really has a nice feel to it.  I’m not sure if the interior lining was a bonded leather or  genuine leather, but, either way, the cover is very flexible and sturdy.  Also, the spine, with the three raised hubs and the classy “Signature” emblem on the bottom, is much more attractive than the simple spine of the PM.  And, while the two are similar in size, I prefer the slightly shorter and more stout dimensions of the SSPC.

Internally, the SSPC has an easier to read, larger font.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any comparison photos of the interior (the photos were hastily snapped many months ago before I gift wrapped the Bible), but I’m quite impressed by the readability and size of the Pocket Companion’s text.  The font is almost as large as your standard “thinline” Bible.  If I were a NKJV kind of guy, I’m sure I’d have no problem preaching from this little Bible–not so the Pitt Minion.

Finally, there’s the matter of price.  The calfskin SSPC retails for about $40 less than the PM–not an inconsiderable difference.  With all of this considered, you’d think the Pocket Companion wins hands down.  Well, not exactly   .  .  .

Where the Pitt Minion wins:

SSPC left; PM right. Note the difference in color. Those who prefer a deep-brown will prefer the Pitt Minion, while the SSPC has a nice, “burnt-orange” hue to it.

Internally, the Pitt Minion is a far more useful Bible.  Where the Pocket Companion has virtually no “study helps” (no cross references, maps, or concordance–just a synopsis of the Gospels!), the Pitt Minion is remarkably useful.  In addition to the cross references and concordance, the PM has thirteen very helpful maps with a complete map index.

Where the Pitt really shines, however, is the overall construction.  The paper is high quality (although the SSPC’s paper isn’t too shabby either), and the goatskin PMs have art-gilt edging (red dye on the page edges underneath the gold leaf), which the SSPC does not have.  Furthermore, the PM’s text block has an amazing ability to lay completely flat, right out of the box.  The SSPC will definitely not lie completely flat out of the box, and I doubt if it would lie completely flat for a long time.

Also, the SSPC that I had seemed to have some blemishes on the interior of the cover (perhaps accounting for the discounted price that I paid?), putting a tiny doubt in my mind concerning the quality control.  And the box advertised a four page parchment paper presentation section, but the Bible only had one, standard style presentation page.  I called TN to make sure I didn’t have a defective Bible, and they said that, no, the box just was misprinted.  This, too, made me wonder if Thomas Nelson is being a bit lax in their quality control.

The Verdict

SSPC left; PM right

Even so, though, I don’t think I’d be overly concerned about the quality control of the SSPC.  On the whole it’s a finely made, sturdy little Bible.  In the final analysis, I would say that it depends on what, exactly, you are looking for. You can’t really go wrong, either way:  Both Bibles come with a life-time guarantee, so both Bibles should literally last a lifetime.  In short, it’s a tie. Figure out what you value most, and purchase accordingly.


About hjimkeener

Education: B.A.: Moody Bible Institute GCTS: Knox Theological Seminary M.Div.: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Ph.D.: Baylor University Ministry Experience: I have served as a Youth Minister, Associate Pastor of English Ministry, and a pulpit supply preacher. Teaching Experience: In addition to teaching in various volunteer and professional ministry settings, I have taught as a University Professor (Teaching Fellow; Baylor University) and as a Seminary Professor (El Seminario de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia). I have also given lectures and sermons in Spanish.
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11 Responses to Bible Design Comparison: NKJV Signature Series Pocket Companion vs. Pitt Minion

  1. Isaac Curtis Johnson says:

    Hubert, thanks again for the wonderful review. I was trying to choose between the editions you compared. You have made my decision making process a lot less lengthily.

    Thanks Brother,
    Isaac Curtis Johnson

    • hjimkeener says:

      Thanks, “Eagle Eye.” Glad I could be of help! If you keep your eye out for a Pocket Companion, you can occasionally get a good deal through third party vendors on Amazon. The same goes for the Pitt Minion, though.
      I have a “back-log” of Bible reviews that I’m hoping to get out in the coming months.

  2. Brett says:

    Excellent review, Hubert. I have the same SSPC, and although I don’t have a NKJV Pitt, I do have a NASB Pitt, which is probably about the same. To your point on font size, I have preached from my SSPC…with no trouble. I tried to preach from my Pitt once, and that will be the last time I try that! They both beautiful little Bibles.

  3. hjimkeener says:

    Thanks, Brett! I’ve seen the pics of yours over on the BDB facebook page. Very nice. I think the clear font makes the Pocket Companion edition well suited for a traveling teacher/professor or preacher. I wish there were a comparable ESV edition, as I don’t really use the NKJV.

  4. Pingback: Fine-Tuning a Modern Classic: The New Black (Imitation Leather) ESV Pitt Minion | For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.

  5. Brett says:

    Well, I thought I’d circle back since I just recommended this post to someone who is considering both of these Bibles. I have sold my two Pocket Companions. The reason is that I finally picked up a NKJV Pitt and love it. While I won’t be preaching from it, I definitely prefer it to the Pocket Companions. The key to me is the Pitt’s ability to open flat.

    • hjimkeener says:

      I’ve owned two NKJV Pocket Companions and given both as gifts (but then I said that already, didn’t I?). I miss those Bibles. Now that they have been oop for some years, they have become quite expensive if you want to pick one up via Amazon. Too bad TN doesn’t want to publish more of those.
      The PM does have the open-flat quality. No arguments there.

  6. Damien says:

    Hey I’m looking for a good small nkjv bible in goatskin that is size of the Pitt minion in blue but I can’t find any. Can you help on where to find one if there is one.

    • Brett says:

      Damien, in answer to your question above, no, the SSPC does not open flat. It was definitely the most frustrating feature of that Bible and why the main reason why I prefer the Pitt instead.

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