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.?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
The design of a book, particularly its exterior, has little to do with how much I enjoy reading it. It does, however, influence my decision to pick it up and consider reading it. If I were a book collector rather than a book reader, I think it might matter more. In fact, if the book is going to be displayed on a coffee table rather than stored on a bookshelf, than the design matters a lot – possibly more than the content, because reading such books is often secondary. I don’t have many books that fit that description.
As a couple of other BTT participants noted in their responses to this question, we actually talked about format pretty recently; my own considerations of the relative merits of hardcover vs. softcover, and my general preference for the trade paperback, were discussed here.
I’m not a big fan of graphic novels, and I don’t really care that much about having illustrations in the fiction that I read. If I’m reading history or biography, though, or a travel memoir, I do like it when there’s a photo section in the book, since it helps me get a better sense of the physical context of events.Since I have reached a point in my life where I wear reading glasses over my contact lenses, the size of a font does actually make some difference to me. If it’s too small to read comfortably, I’ll probably pass it up. I don’t particularly like to see a page look cluttered, but at the same time, if there’s a lot of white space, I may get the impression – fair or not – that the book’s a bit short on real content.
As far as my first impression of a book – its cover art and layout – I agree with a few of this week’s other participants, who said that if the book’s author is one they already know and like, they’re probably going to read the book regardless of what its cover looks like. It’s actually easier for me to specify what doesn’t appeal to me about a book cover than what does – obvious genre clichés, particularly those applicable to romance or chick-lit, and movie tie-in editions with scenes from the film all over them. But even in those cases, particularly if I’ve heard some good things about the book elsewhere, I’ve been known to look past the cover and give it a try. Books are lucky; they get a second chance to make a first impression.
Does book design affect your reading at all?
1. Some relationships are meant to have a set shelf life – they belong to a particular place and time, and without that context, they fade away. (I hate when it happens, though.)
2. The Brian Setzer Orchestra is the last concert I saw; it was over two years ago, and the second time I’d seen them, but it was still fun. (I think that was the last concert I saw. We really don’t go to them all that much, and I’m not counting the Remainders at the 2006 Festival of Books.)
3. Spring should be cooler than it will be in summer.
4. Oh no! I forgot …something! What was it I came in here for?
5. I’ve recently started combining my Thursday and Friday meme responses into one post (you can see for yourself how that’s turning out).
6. My dog’s wagging tail never fails to make me smile.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to my husband’s return from New York City (he’s been on a spring-break trip chaperoning his daughter’s drama class), tomorrow my plans include celebrating my birthday (!) and Sunday, I want to relax and enjoy knowing that I have the day off on Monday, too!