I've been in search of the (probably mythical) "perfect bible." The bible I've used the most over the past 5 years or so has been a rebound Pitt Minion that's not pictured here. I really love it, but I've found myself really wanting a single column format. I can comprehend things a lot more quickly in a good single column format, and that's a big value to me. So as much as I like the Pitt Minion, I am searching for something else.
The old PSR was the first ESV I had, and used it pretty heavily while in college, and then loaned it out to some friends, so it's seen some heavy use, and it has responded amazingly well, especially given that is a very cheap bible. The single-column format with the cross references is a really good format, and the the PSR is a great size. It feels great in my hand for reading, for preaching (I preach without a pulpit, usually), and at the desk. Unfortunately, I easily lose my place when reading for some reason, so I don't really use it anymore.
The ESV Clarion - hailed as an amazing bible. Single column, great layout, good font size, great binding options, hand sized. I read about it, read reviews, and bought one—thinking it would be perfect. And it almost is. I love it. It's almost like reading a large print bible. But, for some reason, it just doesn't feel quite right in my hands. It's a little thick for me, in the way I use it. And that thickness occasionally sucks some of the text into the gutter. I love the Clarion, but I can't quite commit to it. I haven't give up on it yet, but I am not committing either.
After ordering the Clarion, I read about Crossway's update to the PSR called the Personal Reference Bible, that supposedly builds on the design of the old PSR. It has line-matching (meaning that is actual white space between each line, even with thin bible paper). It has a more unified design, and a new (slightly bigger font) face. It basically fixed most of what I didn't like about the old one. You can buy them for about $20 shipped, so I decided to give it a try.
I couldn't find many reviews of it, and no comparisons with the Clarion, so I took some photos to showcase the differences.
I haven't come to any real conclusions yet, to be honest. The new PRB is a big improvement on the old PSR. It's definitely not as well made as the very expensive Clarion. The imitation leather cover was incredibly incredibly stiff. The photos below show the cover after a lot of twisting and bending and abuse trying to loosen it up. But, I'm trying not to judge based on the cover for two reasons (1) my old Tru-tone has aged very well (2) If I decided to commit to the PRB, it will get a new cover on it (and still be cheaper than the Cambridge). The paper is good, the font very readable, and it's a very handy size. it's not much thinner than the Clarion, but it feels a lot different in my hands.
I'm going to use it heavily for a week (I'm a preacher, so that will mean a lot of use), and make up my mind, hopefully, by then. Either there there will be compromises. With the Clarion, I'll lose a little portability, comfort in the hand, and there will be more page turning while teaching/preaching. With the PRB I'll lose the amazing leather edge-lined cover, and the text that is just a joy to read, but I'll still have good text, and I'll gain the portability/hand feel. So I guess we'll see what happens.
Top: Cambridge Pitt Minion
Cambridge Clarion in Goatskin
There really isn't that much of a difference in thickness, but it just feels like it in my hands.
The font in the Clarion is a little bigger than the Personal Reference BIble, with some more line spacing I think. The Clarion is definitely more readable, but the PRB is still very readable. Both do a good job of opening flat at Genesis and Revelation. The Clarion is a little better, but with use the PRB will be almost as good, I would guess. The Clarion is like water — it just flows around whatever it's on. This is the old PSR. It's just as fluid as the Cambridge. A Very stiff cover — but I'm confident it will get a lot more flexibly as it breaks in. IIt did like being bent back like that. This is wear from some intention bending and flexing of the cover to loosen the cover up some. On the old PSR, the inside paper cover is a mess. I think the page layout and font is very good. You can download actual pages to see it exactly. The old cover feels great in the hand, but it shows a lot of wear. It has probably seen about 2 years of very heavy use (It's about 5 years old, or a little older). It would have fallen apart by now, had I used it everyday. Though, I would guess some of this damage comes from being carried in back-packs and such. The extra ribbons are just taped to an index card. Nothing fancy. The new PRB is a little big thicker than the old, but not all that much. A subtly improved page design that really goes a long way to improving readability. The line matching really helps. The beat-up inside cover of the old. Compared to a Cambridge Pitt Minion.