When choosing a Bible, it is very important to know about the translation used in presenting the Word in English. There are myriad Bible versions to choose from, but unfortunately, many suffer from poor translation from the original language. Some corrupt the original text, and some, in an effort to be relevant to today's vernacular, butcher the intent of the original writers. The most popular versions being the King James, the New King James, the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard (NASV), the Eglish Standard Version (ESV), the Living Bible, the Living Translation and the Message. These seem to be the most popular English versions available.
Obviously the King James is the most widely known and accepted, in fact, if you are dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses, they will accept the King James even though they have their own translation which denies the Deity of Christ. The King James is the old stand by but it is very difficult to understand as it is written in a version of English that is 400 years old. The New King James is far more readable and holds to the original translation of the original. I do not own one, but, I hold it in high regard, especially as one of my mentors, Dr. Gary Cohen, was on the translation committee.
The NASV is a great translation especially in regards to the translation of the Greek to English. The only problem with the NASV is it is a little difficult to understand as the English is can be a bit stiff.
The NIV is not so much of a word for word translation but a thought by though translation. It is very readable and quite accurate as it had older manuscripts to work from than previous translations. The draw back for me with the NIV is that I still need to keep a King James around when studying in order to look up specific words in original language.
The ESV is currently my Bible of choice. It is well translated, using even older texts than the NIV and written in readable English. The translation is strong and the English is understandable in today's vernacular.
The Living Bible is a paraphrase and I find it is too loose with it's interpretation of the Bible. It may be useful for small children but not a best choice for older believers.
The Living Translation is written in the same simplicity as the Living Bible but is a translation rather than a paraphrase. A little better than the Living Bible but again, loses some of it's power in an attempt to simplify. This would be a good companion to a more scholarly version to help with difficult passages, but not good for a regular diet.
Finally, the Message. I would not recommend this version to anyone as it waters down key doctrines and seems to lend itself more to an emerging church frame of theology. I did quite a bit of research before purchasing my current Bible a couple of years ago and settled on the ESV but I would recommend any of the Bibles in this posting except the Living Bible and Translation and the Message
Choosing a Bible version is an extremely personal choice and should be taken with great care.