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,
“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
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:
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.
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.