I finally received my long awaited Personal Size Reference ESV. Long awaited because I have been looking forward to this layout since it was announced late last year.First things first, the inside of this Bible is of more import than the whole package. As much as I like premium leather bindings, of which this is not yet available with, I am more interested in the layout of this Bible. It is a single column paragraph format rather than a double column paragraph or single column verse per line like the Single Column Reference ESV.This edition is the genuine leather, which is very stiff! You need to take care in opening this genuine leather cover. Crossway also offers these in TruTone which is a synthetic leather but much, much softer than this. Sadly, only the genuine leather has a sewn binding. On the one hand you get a stiff cover with a sewn binding and on the other you can get a stiff(glued) binding with a soft cover. For those interested in sending this edition off to be rebound, I would suggest you start with the genuine leather edition only because of the sewn binding.The only thing I liked about my old Life Application Study Bible was the format, it was a single column paragraph layout, which to me makes reading easier. In this format the Bible is laid out much like a novel rather than a reference book. I believe this will help in Bible study and in gaining a better understanding of the context as opposed to just using verses for proof texts.This edition is very similar in size to the Cambridge Pitt Minion and Cambridge Cameo. The text block is 7.25″ x 5″ x 1″, making it slightly taller and wider than the two Cambridge Bibles and just as thick as the Cameo. The interior layout is just what I had hoped it would be. The font is very readable(7.4pt), this Bible doesn’t seem to suffer from the uneven print like my Thinline Cordovan does. The cross references are in the gutter, that is in the spine, rather than on the outside edge. This is a great idea that was carried over from the Single Column Reference. Another detail that was brought over was the three line border that goes around the text itself keeping it separate from the cross references, the title and page number that are on top and the textual variants on the bottom. The title at the top of the page uses a different font from the text and the chapter numbers are a dark gray, the pericope titles are in italics. The book introductions are in gray, which I do not like. Speaking of another thing I didn’t like… the ribbon. Once again Crossway puts in a cheap, thin ribbon and to make matters worse, they only use one.Now to the readability. I already like it far better than the Pitt Minion, and I really like how readable the Pitt Minion is for such a small font. That has more to do with the single column than the larger font of the PSR. Even when compared to the Cameo, which has a larger font than the PSR, the PSR has a cleaner look.Overall, I really like the Personal Size Reference ESV despite some of its shortcomings, the biggest of which is the cover/binding issue. Do you take the stiff binding with the soft cover? or do you take the stiff cover with the loose binding? In my opinion just drop the extra coinf for the genuine leather, even if it is stiff. The cover will eventually soften up but the TruTone will never sew its binding.
do not use an archival pen larger than .03 especially if you are using black
If you would like to see this edition in calfskin, check out this post: Open Letter to Crossway