19 May 2014

Mom Review: The TBS Windsor Text Edition Bible

Dear Lissy,

For my 300th letter, I'm doing something a little different.  Last spring I wrote you a letter about how to choose a new Bible if you've transitioned to Bible study on the computer.  One of the Bibles I earmarked as a good candidate, the Windsor Text edition, received excellent reviews on its craftsmanship. The price was better than I had hoped.  I guessed it would work well for myself and my readers as a reading and marking Bible, but I wanted to know if the Windsor could also be our daily driver.

 Quality Bibles are typically reviewed by men, and they rarely -- ok, never -- consider whether the Bible will fit into a purse or if it can be held open in one hand while you cuddle a child with your other arm.  I contacted the branch office of the Trinitarian Bible Society in Michigan to see if they would be willing to send me a sample to review.  They generously provided one, and I'm  excited to be offering a female perspective and review on the Trinitarian Bible Society's Windsor Text edition KJV Bible today.  A special thank you  is in order to Darci at TBS in North America for sharing her expertise and sending the review copy out Priority Mail.  I also owe a big thank you to my friend Lisa for the photographs throughout this letter.

My Criteria.

 

I'm looking for a reasonably priced, well-crafted KJV Bible in a size and format suitable for reading, carrying, and outreach.   I also want a "marking" Bible I can recommend to friends and readers of Dear Lissy.   The TBS Windsor calfskin edition has received excellent reviews on EvangelicalBible.com and from notable male internet Bible design reviewers here (Netherland copy) and here (Belarus copy).

My Impressions.


First impression:  " Oh.  This is almost exactly the same as the Gift & Award Bibles we give out in Sunday School.  [Open Bible]  Ooooooh.  No, not  a Sunday School Bible.  [Big laugh]  This is awesome."  
Imagine if someone took the most basic copy of the Bible available and insisted on excellence in every detail, including price.   You're holding a TBS Windsor Text edition.

Features I like:
  • The Windsor Bible is available worldwide.  This was an important consideration for me since about a third of our readers are from outside the U.S.   Head over to tbsbibles.org to find a local source. The website is closed on Sundays.
  • Like a designer black pencil skirt, the Windsor hits the sweet spot for size.  It's big enough to read easily, but small enough to tuck in my handbag or the parent pocket of a diaper bag.  I didn't register just how svelte the Windsor was until I laid it on top of our regular hand-sized Bibles. It's small and light enough for a young child to hold, too.  With the cover, the Windsor measures in at 5-1/2" x 8" x 1".  That's just a bit smaller than the hardcover blank journals sold everywhere in the United States or an A5 notebook overseas.
  • Jongbloed printing and sewn binding is a high end treat for a Bible at this price point. A hundred different details elevate this Bible far beyond its humble cost.  It makes my heart happy to see the Word of God treated with this level of detail and care. 
    • Text is perfectly centered on the page, crystal clear, and an even color throughout.  The words of Christ are in black as well.


    • The pages lay open flat without being held from Genesis to Revelation.  You can set it on the table beside you while you nurse a baby, or balance it on one hand while you write on the white board during school.  
 

    • The gutter is free of cockling, and the pages almost turn themselves.  No finger licking required.
    • The edge cuts are ruler straight and evenly gilded. 
    • A 4" x 1/32" irregular vertical crinkle occurs in the top of the pages in Leviticus in my review copy.  It didn't affect the printing.


  • The Windsor has a calfskin leather cover similar in feel to a Cambridge French Morocco cover, a rare quality at this price point. I was ambivalent about the thin, stiff hand feel at first, but the way I use a Bible requires a cover with a good bit of structure.  After a couple of days of regular use and a trip to church on Sunday, I'm used to how it feels and moves.  I'll always have a soft spot for floppy leather covers with pinched corners, but they don't fit into my life (or budget) very well right now.
 

  • Creamy white silky-smooth paper and a modern serif font in deep gray-black furnish a subtle sophistication and uber-readability in the Windsor Bible that is a welcome break from my usual world of ink jet copies and mass market educational books.  
    • The text-only format allows a full 9.6/8 point font. In everyday English, most small Bibles have a font and typeface that is about the same as a dictionary.  The Windsor has the same size and type of font as a paperback biography your brother is reading right now.  

    • The paper quality and line matching on front and back of each page means minimal ghosting or glare, even under direct fluorescent lighting.  
    • Pencil marks easily and erases well.  The generous leading allows plenty of room between lines for boxing, circling, underlining and arrows.
    • The margins are the same measurements as the Cambridge Pitt Minion I currently use as my daily driver.  I know I can fit three lines of tiny writing in the 1/2" space by turning the Bible 90 degrees.
  • I'm thrilled Trinitarian Bible Society kept the verse-by-verse format.  Little nooks and crannies of blank space are perfect for jotting notes or adding an important cross reference. I also very much appreciate v by v format when I'm teaching a Bible class to younger children or having an unbeliever read a bit during a gospel discussion.
  • Text only.  This is a peaceful, powerful interaction with the Word of God.  No clutter.  No distractions.  Unless you've been whisked away to a cabin on Cape Cod off-season, it would be hard for me to explain the profound sense of quiet, simplicity, and power this edition exudes.  Again, this format is much easier for helping a new reader learn to love reading the Word.  You three were often distracted by the "little" numbers and letters surrounding the actual Scripture.  I've found unbelievers respond better to the simple word of God, too.
  • The Bible Word List is a tiny, ingenious appendix that defines obsolete KJV words and provides the reference where the word is used.  This feature allows us to look up a word during school or devotions without any fuss at all.
  • The price is astonishing. At $30 USD from Evangelical Bible and $43 USD from Trinitarian Bible Society, the Windsor is a fraction of the cost of equivalent editions from British publishers.  Hardback ($12 USD) and Vivella ($24 USD) editions are available as are editions with zippers and Metrical Psalms.
Features I noticed...
  • The sturdy storage sleeve will allow the Windsor to be packed into luggage easily.
  • The Leatherette liner is the standard in the Bible industry.  Leather lining is rare, and not always better.   Leatherette is an excellent surface for sticky notes and washi tape if you like to keep memory verses or other small reminders in the front and back of your Bible.
  • The Hinge.  Even expensive Bibles are notorious for text blocks separating from the cover.  The Windsor appears to have reinforced the hinge by glueing the first half inch of the endpapers to the liner along the gutter. Try not to break that glue joint, or the hinge deteriorates rapidly. 
  • Nice presentation page.  I don't want pages of family history, births, deaths, and baptisms in my everyday carry Bible; but a simple presentation page is a nice touch.
  • Annotated translators to the readers.  This is the first time I've read the Translators to the Readers, even though I've used this same translation for almost 40 years.  It was interesting in an historical sense, but not necessarily something I need bound into my Bible. 
  • Two thin ribbon markers.  I don't have a lot of use for ribbon markers -- I use Book Darts to track my regular reading. The ribbons are already ravelling straight out of the box, so plan to seal the ends yourself if you use ribbons or have a child who can't resist picking and pulling.
  • Two-Year Reading scheme.  Again, not one I'll use; but it's a nice addition for a reading along with a child who's ready to read a couple of chapters a day on their own.
Feature I didn't like...
  • Pronunciation Guide. The Windsor text edition doesn't use self pronunciation within the text, which was an important consideration for me.  I dislike a dictionary vibe in my Bible.  I would prefer to have blank paper for notes in place of the pronunciation guide at the back, though. 
My recommendation...
The Windsor text Bible is a simple, classic, quality edition of Scripture at an affordable price point.  It is neither masculine nor feminine in its styling. It will appeal to the same group of women who appreciate Moleskine Classic notebooks, LL Bean Boat and Tote bags, and freshly sharpened cedar pencils
The Windsor's combination of creamy white paper and 8 point font make it an exceptional choice for those who wish to read for long periods of time or who have small children just learning to read.  It is also ideal for marking and minor annotation, but doesn't have room for journaling or extensive notes.  As with any item that is well designed and expertly executed, the Windsor appears underwhelming at first.  The quiet elegance and near perfection of form and function has to be used to be appreciated.  I cannot stress enough how rare this edition is: I am not aware of another Bible with this size, quality, format, and price. 

Bibles constantly change as the publishers are forced to find new materials and work with printing houses to keep cost low and quality high.  This printing of the Windsor is superior to the Belarus printing available just a couple of years ago -- sometimes quality improves with new editions.  I don't know if this exact Bible will be available when you are older, but the Trinitarian Bible Society has been committed to printing quality, uncorrupted copies of God's Word for over 175 years.

Love,
Momma

P.S. to my readers:

I received a free sample copy of this Bible in calfskin leather from Trinitarian Bible Society in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my ownTBS does not run an affiliate program:  all profits from sales stay within their own non-profit.

If you choose to order this Bible, the red leather edition is due back in stock in August 2014 at Trinitarian Bible Society.  Please specify that you want the Netherlands printing when you order if you wish to receive a product that is the same as the one pictured and reviewed here.

Linked up at Titus 2 Tuesday #105

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