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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

Do you want to know the one redeeming factor about Thursdays? On Thursday, you know that the next day is Friday. That and Booking Through Thursday. So I guess there's two redeeming factors.

But I digress...

And I disagree. If we didn't judge books by their cover, why on earth do publishing companies spend mucho dinero designing eye-catching art work? When we go to the bookstore or library to browse, I challenge you to honestly say you don't look for books that catch your attention. In my experience, anyhow, the title might catch my eye, yes, but the print or color of makes the title stand out, which makes the book stand out. When I pick up a book, even before I can flip it open to read what it says on the back, I'll notice the cover. Before I've read a word, the artwork lets me know what genre the book will be, and from that I can make a good judgement (usually) on how much I'll like the book.

Now that's not to say that book covers can't deceive. I've been fooled into buying books I ended up not liking by book covers that lured me in. But I'd be lying if I didn't say the artwork influences my reading choices.

Once I've picked up the book to read it, the design of the book still plays a part. A book thats too stiff to bend is annoying, since I like to read while doing activities not conducive to actually holding the book open (don't think dirty people! I'm talking about reading while eating or blowdrying my hair.)

A book that's too heavy might make my hands sore during a late night reading fest. (Its been known to happen).

But when I'm reading a book with good cover art (especially if you need to have read some plot point or another to understand the cover art) will make me flip back to the cover to look and think about it. I also really like when there are little illustrations at the beginning of the chapters, like in Harry Potter. The last time I reread the books, I spent extra time looking at those illustrations and thinking about the scenes that they alluded to.

So in answer, I guess I would have to say a resounding yes! The design of the book is very important.


Melody said...

Great points, Kim! Bookcovers do count in a way... especially when I'm not familiar with the authors. In that case, an attractive cover will make me to pick up the book first, although I'd still pick it up in the end after I've browsed through the other books first!

Rhinoa said...

I judge books by their covers initially, why else would you pick up a book at random to look at closer if not for the cover? I have also suffered from sore hand from reading syndrome!

Stephanie said...

Um, are you sure that you aren't my long lost sister or something, because that is exactly how I feel (especially the cute little illustrations in HP)!

Nymeth said...

"If we didn't judge books by their cover, why on earth do publishing companies spend mucho dinero designing eye-catching art work?"

Yup, exactly!

Kim L said...

melody-exactly what I think. Bookcovers do make a difference in picking up a book.

rhinoa-sore hand reading sydrome... I think we've got a genuine disease. We'll abbreviate it SHRS.

stephanie-I've always wondered if I had a twin separated at birth. I love love love the illustrations in HP. To me, they are part of what makes the book good.