Booking Through Thursday

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

Ok, I will admit, I am a sucker for a neat looking book. I am attracted to the gorgeous cover art of the likes of Wendell Minor (“Then Came Heaven” by LaVyrle Spencer and William Ireland (“Evening Class” by Maeve Binchy). It was the cover art that drew my eye to the Jan Karon “Mitford” books which, of course, turned out to be absolutely lovely books.

I don’t care for books with artwork from movies. In fact, I don’t really like reading a book if I have seen the movie. Bad memories of an oral book report on “Mutiny on the Bounty” circa 1964. I have a copy of “Chocolat” that has a photo of Juliette Binoche on the cover. I have to say that, as much I like Ms. Binoche as an actress, I don’t like the cover of this book.

Hard back vs paper back? Well, I really prefer hard backs if they aren’t too thick. They just hold up better because I tend to carry a book with me every place I go and they are more propable. If they are too large, however, they are difficult to hold with my weak wrists. I do buy many paperbacks, however, and have to admit that they are more “purse-able”. I think it just depends on how the mood strikes me and whether the book will become a permanent part of our little library or perhaps passed around to friends.

The typeface is another matter, however. It needs to be dark and easy to read. While I am not quite to the point of buying “large print” books, I can see it out on the horizon. Another negative about the “Chocolat” book — small print on the greyish side.

All of this has to do with the initial attraction to the book, however. Once I have read the dust jacket or an excerpt from the book (mostly done while standing in the store juggling all the magazines I tend to buy), I know whether I am going to enjoy the book in spite of the cover art. I have reshelved many “cool looking” books because they just weren’t for me. Unfortunately, I have probably never taken a second look at some great books because the packaging just didn’t grab me.

I read/collect children’s books and I am drawn to the illustrations — who isn’t. Again, however, if the story falls flat, I won’t purchase the book just for the art — it has to be a complete package. Like jlshall, I wish adult books could be illustrated — they should be illustrated. I like the street maps in the Mitford books — they create a visual for the reader that really puts you into the book.

At the end of the day, however, it is the content that matters and once I am “into” a book, the cover matters not a whit. All the decoration in the world won’t “make” a book nor will lack of decoration doom it.

Great covers do make book shopping fun though and I am sure turn a good profit for the dealers.


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6 responses to “

  1. Well, I’d have to admit that the design for the Mitford series is consistent even though Karon’s writing makes me want to stick a chopstick up my eyeball.I think it would be really cool to have illustrations in adult books. Unfortunately, I don’t think they would sell because in our culture, drawings are considered kiddie stuff. That’s why western animation is all geared toward children and young adult books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series are all given “adult” covers in order to appeal to older readers.

  2. Well, I’d have to admit that the design for the Mitford series is consistent even though Karon’s writing makes me want to stick a chopstick up my eyeball.I think it would be really cool to have illustrations in adult books. Unfortunately, I don’t think they would sell because in our culture, drawings are considered kiddie stuff. That’s why western animation is all geared toward children and young adult books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series are all given “adult” covers in order to appeal to older readers.

  3. I wonder if it wasn’t at least partly your father’s influence on us that makes us so fond of illustrations in books? All that art work around all the time must have left an impression. Oh, and I’ve solved the problem of books not being “purse-able” by just starting to carry gigantic purses!

  4. I wonder if it wasn’t at least partly your father’s influence on us that makes us so fond of illustrations in books? All that art work around all the time must have left an impression. Oh, and I’ve solved the problem of books not being “purse-able” by just starting to carry gigantic purses!

  5. jlshall –You are probably right about the art connection — same thing with out weakness for movies. I have noticed that I am buying purses that fit the books better! Vera Bradley has a lovely little tote that is just right for toting books! Well, one at least.

  6. jlshall –You are probably right about the art connection — same thing with out weakness for movies. I have noticed that I am buying purses that fit the books better! Vera Bradley has a lovely little tote that is just right for toting books! Well, one at least.

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