Review of ‘NIV Single-Column Bible’

A few years ago, Adam Lewis Greene launched a Kickstarter campaign for Bibliotheca, which aimed to produce a Bible that looked like a regular book. Whereas most Bibles have two columns per page, Bibliotheca would have one. Whereas many Bibles have chapter and verse numbers, section headers, footnotes with alternate readings, and cross-references, Bibliotheca would have none. Like I said, it would look like a regular book. In the end, Greene’s Kickstarter campaign garnered support of 14,884 backers who pledged $1,440,345.

I wanted to purchase Bibliotheca until I found it used the American Standard Version as its base text. The ASV, which was first published in 1901, is a bit too woodenly literal for my taste. So, I passed on Bibliotheca. A few months later, however, I discovered the ESV Reader’s Bible. Like Bibliotheca, it presents the biblical text on a single column per page and strips out chapter and verse numbers, section headers, footnotes and cross-references. Unlike Bibliotheca, the ESV Reader’s Bible is relatively inexpensive. I thoroughly enjoyed using it, as I made clear in my review of it.

The ESV, for English Standard Version, is not my go-to translation, however. I have used the NIV for most of my life, and when NIV 2011 hit the market, I purchased a new Bible. The problem was that I now wanted a single-column NIV that, like Bibliotheca and the ESV Reader’s Bible, stripped out all the textual paraphernalia that accompanies most Bibles. So, I finally settled for the NIV Single-Column Bible.

On the plus, side, the NIV Single-Column Bible is easy to read. I have read it from cover to cover once, and I try to read through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs monthly. I find it as easy and enjoying to read as my ESV Reader’s Bible, which I attribute to the single-column format. I am amazed at how distracting double-column pages, and I don’t think I’ll ever use one for devotional reading, preaching, or teaching again. (I have several double-column study Bibles that I use for sermon preparation and writing, but with those, I’m not reading the biblical text as much as I’m reading the comments about specific verses.)

Furthermore, the NIV Single-Column Bible retains chapter and verse numbers, headers, and footnotes, but thankfully it keeps cross-references to a minimum, placing them with the footnotes at the bottom of the page. I wish Zondervan would publish an NIV Reader’s Bible that stripped all those things out. Even so, I did not find the textual paraphernalia overly distracting. One other benefit is a 30,000-word concordance for help finding passages that use specific terms.

Here’s a picture of how the NIV Single-Column Bible presents poetic books, in this case, Psalms:


Here’s a picture of how it presents narrative books, in this case, Mark:


Now for the downsides. First, compared to the ESV Reader’s Bible, it is big and heavy. It measures 7 x 1.8 x 10.2 inches and weighs 3 lbs. with 1,440 pages. The ESV Reader’s Bible has 1,840 pages, but measures 5.25 x 7.75 inches and weighs 2 lbs. 5 oz. It’s not noticeably thicker than the NIV Single-Column Bible.

Here’s a picture comparing the size of the two Bibles:


And here are pictures comparing how they present Psalms and Mark:



The other thing I don’t like about the NIV Single-Column Bible is the cover. I don’t mind imitation leather covers, since they bring down the overall cost of the Bible considerably. However, this one is engraved (I think that’s the right term), but it looks dated. Here’s a picture.


So, while I will continue to use the NIV Single-Column Bible for devotional reading, preaching, and teaching, I really would like to encourage Zondervan to cast a sidelong glance at what Crossway is doing with its ESV Reader’s Bible and try to imitate it. Specifically, can I please have a smaller, lighter NIV without all the textual paraphernalia?

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.




3 thoughts on “Review of ‘NIV Single-Column Bible’

  1. While I appreciate your honest review and understand the personal views and needs you have expressed, I find that a pure text Bible always leaves me reaching for another Bible with some kind of helps to satisfy my unrelenting curiosity and questions… And yes, even in devotional reading I have questions that help feed my heart, and I tend to look (in the particular Bible I am holding at the time) for some little hints along the way. I very much appreciate the way the NIV provides subheads to alert me to main themes. Whenever I purchase a Bible I always look for some special feature that will provide additional help to organize my mind (and heart). I find this NIV to be an excellent balance between a “readers” Bible and one that does just a little bit more. God Bless!

    1. I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s interesting to me that you’re allowing the editors to do your thinking for you. At some point, we all have to wrestle directly with the text. I also use study Bibles, commentaries, and notes in a standard Bible to help me understand the text. However, I have found that the editors of those Bibles don’t always get stuff right. Wrestle with the text! Then you can better appreciate what the editors have done, even as you realize that they may not have gotten everything right.

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