Review of the Zondervan NASB Compact Reference Bible

This is a review of one of my favorite little bibles in my collection, the Zondervan NASB Compact Reference Bible (CRB). While it isn’t exactly a high end edition or bound in silky goatskin, it’s one of the most pleasurable and comfortable bibles to read. First, let’s talk stats. Here are the specifications from Zondervan:

– Center-Column Reference System

– Portable Size.  Two-Column Text in Paragraph Format for easy reading and comprehension

– Clear, Readable Type

– Full-Color Maps, Study Helps, Book Introductions, and Concordance

– Words of Christ in Red

-Page Count: 1824

Paper Edge Description: Gold Gild

Type Point Size: 6

Size: 4.8 wide x 6.3 high x 1.9 deep in. | 122 wide x 160 high x deep 48 mm

Weight: 1.115 lb | 505 gms

If I had to describe what this bible actually looks like, I would say it’s a ESV Study Bible in miniature. It’s a brick essentially. The most prominent feature next to it compact size is its depth…almost 1 1/2 inches! For a compact bible, that extra deep text block means one thing. It fits snuggly and firmly in the palm of your hand. Coupled with a block that lays open flat almost effortlessly, and you have a bible that is excellent for one handed reading, travel, and prayer.

The CRB regrettably comes with only one black ribbon. There’s enough real estate at the header to fit probably 6 ribbons, but I added 3 to help with reading in multiple books. Direction to add ribbons can be found here.

I bought my first CBR about 5 years ago and another a few months ago. This pictures above display the older verion (bottom) with its rounded spine and concave block and the newer version I just purchased (top) with a more squared off spine and block. The older version, if you can get it, is by far the more comfortable of the two to hold in the palm.

Though this is a true compact, and therefore small, it reads like its larger kin. Though the type is technically a 6, it reads like a 9. For reasons I cannot entirely explain, this compact is very easy to read and causes no strain in prolonged reading. Perhaps it’s the boldness of the type, but this little edition is an absolute joy to read and hold.

Though these photos above (all taken on my iphone) show some ghosting between pages, I assure you there is very little if not none at all. This paper is superb and feels nice to the touch and the pages turn easily. It’s compact form allows quick shuffling between books and lays open flat wherever you turn, even in Genesis and Revelation. Every book in this bible comes with introductions and outlines. I personally like a reference bible for jumping around to find verses that relate to one another, and finding a compact with references is relatively difficult, at least one where you can still read the references. This book fits the bill.

The binding in this little gem is the only downside. It’s bonded leather with synthetic liners and is pretty stiff. I have found that with prolonged use, however, it does soften up a bit and is almost barely noticable in the palm. In my opinion, the perfection of the text block makes up for the poor binding materials. If you have the means, this little guy would make an excellent rebinding candidate as it sewn. offers this text block in a duo tone binding at their website that looks interesting for those who do mind two finishes on their bindings. It should also be said that this edition comes in black bonded and burgundy bonded leather. You can also purchase it with or without a snap button flap to secure it closed.

As stated, the font type is bold and crisp enabling for easy and pleasurable reading for long stretches of time. Though this is a red letter edition, the red type is also clear, bold, and distinct unlike many other editions where the red type is more of a faded pinkish color that is a strain to read.

The photos above can help give some sense of scale. As you can see, it fits perfectly in the hand and is well balanced when opened fully. The extra wide spine provides that extra stability in the palm.

All in all, this is a wonderful little edition. Sure, it’s not wrapped in that joyous material known as goatskin, but it performs exactly and precisely for what is was designed for…to be read. On a scale of one to ten, this is a heavy eight. Were it not for the bonded leather and the squared off spine on the newer editions, this would have been a happy nine and a half.

If you are interested in this little bible, check it out on the Zondervan website or buy one at CBD. It looks like they can be had for between $22 and $28 online.

About Matthew Blair

Sinner saved by grace.
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10 Responses to Review of the Zondervan NASB Compact Reference Bible

  1. KT says:

    OK, Bible Freakoid that I am…. and R.L. Allan Highland Goatskin “Oh, DO NOT even get me started cuz I’ll pass out and just DIE!” Fan that I am…. after reading your in depth description of this little beauty…. I had to talk myself waaaay down and tell myself,

    “KT, step away from the computer…. just step away…. that’s right…. it’ll be OK in a minute….. I mean how could a tiny 6 pt. font ever, EVER read like a 9?! HOW?! This is not possible…. You know from past experience that a 6 pt. font will kill your eyes….. So keep stepping back…. that’s it….. it’ll all be over soon…..”


    I wish they had something like this in an ESV…. but I’m at the point to where I can only comfortably read a 9 pt. type, and even then.

    LOVED your post!! Talk me into it, Oh Foolish Galatian!

  2. Matthew says:

    Um, OK. Go get one. ;I

  3. Justin says:

    While I am not a big fan of the NASB translation at all, I appreciate your review.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great post Matt. My friend has had one for years with the snap fold. I’ve always wished the ESV had a compact like this with the great dark readable type!

  5. Bro. Dan says:

    Where can one purchase this Bible?

  6. KT says:

    Bro. Dan,
    Matt gives you a link to CBD (Christian Book Distributors) in the very last paragraph of his review above. CBD currently lists it at $26.99 + Shipping. However, the least expensive I could find it new is at Amazon:

    Amazon charges $26.59 + Free Shipping; however, their Marketplace Sellers have new ones starting at $20.55 + $3.99 postage = $24.54.

    You can search eBay or other places using the book’s ISBN number:
    978-0310921431, which is for the Black with a Snap Flap.

    The Bible Matt shows above, the one without a Snap Flap, has an ISBN Number of: 9780310921448.

    The No Snap Flap is running $25.79 + Free Shipping at Amazon, and their Marketplace Sellers have them new as low as $16.78 + $3.99 Shipping = $20.77. CBD is selling the No Snap Flap at $22.99 + Shipping.

    Both models, with and without the Snap Flap, come in Black or Burgundy.

    Hope this helps!

  7. Doug says:

    Hey guys,

    If you really like this size and translation, go to and they have this little wonder with their exclusive soft and supple calfskin. Their work is done by Abba, the same bindery that does the Nelson Signature Bibles. I think they run $150 though, pretty expensive for such a small amount of leather IMHO.

  8. DT says:

    Just got one in Burgundy with the flap. Probably be getting it in the mail in a few days. I’ll post some pictures for people to view as soon as I get them.
    Thanks for this review, I attribute my purchase to this post. God bless!

  9. Freedom says:

    I just got my NASB pocket reference Bible today. Its a well put togehter,stocky little bible. The print is very easy to see. I usually have to wear reading glasses for small bible but not with this one. The print is bold,especially the red letter. I can already tell this is going to be my favorite bible outside of my study bible. I like it so well i ordered one for my car and one for my husband. The local book stores in the big city i live in can not order or stock it for some reason.

  10. Michael says:

    Matt (the foolish Galatian) can you or anyone else (if you know for sure) please tell me what is the ISBN number for the concave spine ‘older’ version of this great looking Bible. I want to buy a burgundy concave spine type; one without the snap lock.
    Hope someone can help,

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