While not the smallest Bible I’ve seen, the Cambridge KJV Pocket Concord is the smallest I’ve reviewed thus far. It truly is a pocket edition. As such, it’s proof that Cambridge can do things right. While there’s a lot that I could say about this little volume, I’ll keep myself to three salient points of “take-away”–two in my search for what makes an ideal pocket Bible and one point for Bible production in general:
A Crisp Clear Font is Key!–And good paper helps. If you see this Bible in person, you’ll know that it is easier to read than the size would seem to indicate. The key, I believe, is the clean type-setting and the semi-bold font. The *semi-bold* part seems to be more important for compact Bibles than it is for larger Bibles.
Also, while the paper is not as bleed-through-free as the Stone Edition Tanach (which has much thicker paper–I’ve compared it to others), it is pretty good for Bible-thin paper–typical Cambridge quality India paper.
My Only Nit-Pick: You can’t always just shrink a larger page layout.
The text on this edition gets pulled into the gutter, making it tricky to read the inside columns without bending the page back a bit near the spine. This isn’t a reason not to buy the Bible, but it does provide me with one point that I can take away from this Bible in my quest for the perfect pocket-Bible. I’d have thought that a great way to make the perfect pocket Bible would be to simply take a very-legible mid-range or larger Bible and just print a smaller copy of the text block on smaller sheets of paper–which is precisely what Cambridge has done with the Pocket Concord. The problem is, when you shrink the layout, the inside gutter size is going to decrease accordingly. Perhaps that’s what has happened here? I can’t be positive, but it seems likely; in any event, it seems that a generous inner gutter is as important for a readable pocket Bible as it is for a book of any size.
Why Can’t We See Better–and More–Leather? I am really impressed with the quality of the French Morocco (sheepskin) leather. Now, the funny thing is, Cambridge describes French Morocco as their thin, flimsy, “bottom of the barrel” stuff; yet it seems to me that this Bible’s leather is thicker, sturdier, of higher quality, and in many cases more flexible than the “genuine leather” Bibles published by other major publishing houses today. As my generation says, “what’s up with that?” Also, even low quality “genuine leather” pocket Bibles are hard to get a hold of these days. Maybe publishers figure consumers wouldn’t want to spring for genuine leather unless they get a big text block along with it? Who knows. I wish more good, affordable, genuine leather editions were available.
Whatever the case, this little Bible offers an example of a well executed (though not flawless) LEATHER pocket Bible. Overall, this is a great option for a KJV pocket Bible, if you can find it (unfortunately, Cambridge just discontinued it, but I’d bet you can still get a hold of it on-line).
I close, as is often the case, with a parting question: 1) What are some of the better pocket/compact KJV Bibles out there? There are so many editions available, from paperback to fine leather, that it can be overwhelming. What are the best that you know of? Share your knowledge!