Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: KJV TakeNote Bible


The KJV TakeNote Bible (also available in a chocolate brown NKJV), a new wide-margin journaling Bible from Thomas Nelson, takes the grand old King James version and places it into a widely accessible journaling format for note taker's and Bible lover's. Though Crossway's 2006 journaling Bible wasn't the first on the scene (see Tyndale's out of print Notemaker's Bible) it made a splash in the Bible publishing world that took wide-margins further into the mainstream and introduced a format that appealed to avid note maker's but didn't intimidate the occasional scribbler. Thomas Nelson applied the philosophy behind the user friendly wide margin format and added a few improvements to make their TakeNote editions, which maximize current trends and advancements in Bible publishing.  


The most immediately noticeable feature of the Bible is its incredibly soft and flexible imitation leather cover. This is by far the best imitation leather cover I've handled. It's both softer and more flexible than Crossway's TruTone and features a handsome pebble grain finish. I was surprised by the suppleness, which easily performs the yoga position and allows the Bible to bend easily. It's actually more supple than  some of the goatskin Bibles I've handled, and while this may not be a must for every reader it's a great benefit when you have an edition that's 7.5 inches wide and certainly challenges most of the journaling Bibles out there, which tend to be hardbacks.

The cover features a magnetic flap which serves as a protective enclosure for the page edges (which are not gilt) and seems both efficient and durable. Another added feature is an elastic pen holder. The pen holder will probably divide consumers, who will either find it a handy and much needed place for their special Bible pen or a tacky nuisance, ruining any chance the Bible has at class. I tend to be of the first persuasion, primarily because I'm always out of sorts when I misplace my special Pigma Micron Bible pen which is color coded to each individual Bible, but also secondarily because this edition is not meant to be a high class competitor with goatskin editions. It's an edition that majors on functionality, and that should be the first concern for any Bible lover.



The edition handles the contortions well; only time will tell if the glued binding holds up to the strain of being folded over in such a manner. The layout manages to stay clean and uncluttered without a cramped or minimalist look, but this results in a Bible over 15 inches wide when laid open which may make the flexibility necessary for those who choose to curl the cover behind the back.


Any wide-margin Bible layout includes a number of compromises and the balance is rarely perfect for everyone. In this case, Nelson has achieved great success in producing a readable layout with suitably wide margins for thorough, though perhaps not extensive, note taking. The font size is one feature that most find lacking in these editions and the TakeNote edition runs parallel with its relative editions with about a 7.5 font. What the TakeNote version adds is a comprehensive center column reference system that features alternate and literal translations for certain words, as well as textual and language notes. This center column reference makes this the only reference journaling Bible I know of and explains the square shaped and size of the Bible (8.125in x 7.5in). The note-taking margin is a little over 2 inches, but the lines only extend about 1.5 inches. My preference is margins without lines, which frees me to create arrows, pointers diagrams etc. However, writing evenly is a concern for some. As a whole the layout is a success, there are no jarringly neglected features and it contains the content in an orderly fashion without clutter. Many would argue that a single column setting with side references would be ideal, but the traditional column setting is still a must for many, and it's achieved here as gracefully as possible.

One characteristic I'm not a fan of is the thinness of the spine. I appreciate a thick volume and have never been pleased with thinline or ultraslim editions. The quality of the paper and optimizing the layout should far outweigh any concern for a thin spine. A thicker spine fills up the palm and is only suitable for a book as large as the Bible. This edition probably has the same thickness of an ultraslim edition and this unfortunately means  thinner paper with less opacity which is greatly detrimental to any Bible you're using for note taking. Compromises between construction and layout must be made, but I would love to see publishers opt for a thicker spine, allowing heavier paper, larger print and larger margins.

This Bible features red letter text, which is an appropriately dark shade of crimson. In addition to the cross references, the edition offers a fair sized concordance which includes proper names (a rare treat these days) and a good set of Bible maps.At the back there is also a cardboard pocket designed for holding, notes etc. and would probably end up holding bulletins and offering money for most people. Modeled after Moleskine design this feature is an apt edition, considering most people tend to tuck bulletins, church announcements, missionary cards, prayer lists etc. into their Bible in various places.


The KJV TakeNote Bible is a welcome addition to user friendly, feature-packed wide margin Bibles designed for the mainstream. Thomas Nelson has included a number of improvements in  the design and has surrounded a well handled layout with useful study tools, practical features and a beautiful, high quality imitation leather. Only time and use will test the durability and endurance of the construction, but the design evidences careful and creative thought. While I might prefer a thicker spine, heavier paper, larger print and a smyth sewn binding rather than glued, this is a welcome edition with many strengths, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to KJV lovers and note taker's alike.



 My thanks to Thomas Nelson who provided a free review copy. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest review.

9 comments:

  1. Hello
    I found your review of this bible because I would like a wide margin bible. (I did print off a pdf KJV, and was very happy with the notetaking I could do with it -- until our computer broke. We have been given a new one, but I can't use it with my printer. So I suppose a "blank Bible" project is not that practical right now.)

    COULD YOU HELP ME? Does the Take Note Bible have blank or ruled pages anywhere else, e.g. at the back of the Bible? I saw a review of the Cambridge Concord Wide Margin, and it has loads of extra pages -- but it costs £80-£100!! (I am a mother of two little kiddies, and they need feeding!)

    Our church encourages note taking, and I would love a nice inexpensive wide margin. I can't be bothered with lots of little notebooks and journals. I like having it all in one place on my lap. I want a KJV cos it's more portable, and you can use it with existing commentaries etc.

    Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

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  2. Hello,

    The Take Note Bible does not have a significant amount of blank or ruled pages anywhere else. I would highly recommend the Cambridge but unfortunately it does cost an arm and a leg and it doesn't come in a cheaper hardcover. I would also recommend anything from LCBP http://lcbplansing.org/Bibles/Basic.htm if you're looking for a KJV. They have a vinyl covered KJV wide margin for $6 at http://lcbplansing.org/Bibles/Inexpensive.htm.

    Henrickson publishers also publishes a hardcover wide margin for under $30 if you search Amazon or CBD. I don't have any experience with those editions.

    I hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, just in case you may need the info, Cambridge does have a Wide Margin KJV that comes in hardcover. I think they did it for the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS), but it is still the same layout, et cetera as the Concord Reference Wide Margin that Cambridge sells in all the expensive, leather formats.

      Here's the link: http://bibletruthpublishers.com/Catalog/ProductDetail.aspx?Prod=7984

      Nice post BTW, thanks for the review - God Bless!

      Romans 15:13 "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (AV)

      Delete
  3. Thank you for your prompt reply!

    I phoned LCBP and, thanks to a few changes in the cost of posting books and magazines, it's nearly $14 postage for a $6 Bible. I knew about this, since I home educate and many of us in the UK have been affected by the removal of cheaper rate for printed matter. It works out to be about £15. For £21-£25, I can buy the Take Note Bible on Amazon uk or Eden.co.uk. The Hendrickson one is a similar price.

    Here is an interesting article from a Christian magazine about how to use a wide margin bible to create a legacy for your children/grandchildren:

    http://www.kyria.com/topics/marriagefamily/parenting/cultivatingkidsfaith/creatingkeepsake.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. I knew that that URL was too long! Hope that splitting it up works:

    http://www.kyria.com/topics/marriagefamily/parenting/
    cultivatingkidsfaith/creatingkeepsake.html

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  5. Could you tell me what KJ text the Thomas Nelson Take Note Bible uses?

    For example is it the 1769 Cambridge or is it a modern KJV text with all the spelling changes.

    Is Saviour spelled as I just spelled it or the modern savior?
    Thanks
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  6. Could you tell me what KJ text the Thomas Nelson Take Note Bible uses?

    For example is it the 1769 Cambridge or is it a modern KJV text with all the spelling changes.

    Is Saviour spelled as I just spelled it or the modern savior?

    I can't find this bible at any of my local Christian Stores. I would like to know what I'm getting before ordering online.
    Thanks
    Chris

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  7. Chris,

    Sorry for the late reply. I no longer have the Bible to check, but my understanding is that Thomas Nelson Bible pass some but not all of the requirements of the extreme KJVO position. If you prefer the anglican spelling of Savior, I suggest you play it safe and stick with Cambridge or LCBP.

    ReplyDelete
  8. thanks. I actually perfer the Saviour spelling. I like the 1769 cambridge text. I'll have to wait to see one in the store. Have not been able to find one yet though.

    Thanks
    Chris

    ReplyDelete