|Persephone - a well-branded shade of 'dove-grey', |
with gorgeous and carefully chosen endpapers hiding within.
So why does it matter? Am I shallow and superficial, more interested in how well books furnish a room than how well they nourish my mind?
I think I like a well-made book because I care about my reading - I won't read any old trash and I want a book that feels and looks as good as its contents. If I'm going to invest time and money in a book I want it to be a nice object, which looks and feels good, as well as a stimulation for the brain. And I want a book that I'll be happy to keep, and that I'll want to go back to in 5 years. So I want to trust that the glue won't fail leaving pages loose, and that the pages won't all get soft and rip-able. In return, I make the time to 'open' a paperback properly so that I know I can read it without breaking the spine.
As an example, I was given a big bookprize after Finals, which I spent it on 'the' Pleiade edition of Proust. I'd studied A la recherche throughout my year abroad in order to take it as my special subject - reading it it the very decent Garnier Flammarion series - good size, nice white paper, useful notes. I didn't get rid of my GF books - and they're still the ones I'll turn to if I'm going to reread a section. But the Pleiades are special - bound in leather, printed on thin bible paper - the physical qualities of each volume say "this is a special book, important and valuable" and I love them for it. One day I hope I'll sit by a window in a comfy chair and give them the attention and respect they deserve.
|One of the eight books |
VMC produced for
their 30th anniversary -
hardbacks, with gorgeous
textile print covers.
Also, to be frank, I quite trust publishers. I think they know exactly how to market books to different segments of readers, and it's a largely reliable shorthand. Yes, it's controlling and manipulative, yes it boxes authors into a corner and leads to lots of copycat books (in content and covers) commercially chasing the same trend. But it works. Pastel colours/pictures of shoes, coloured drawings of women, black covers with the author's name embossed in silver, anything called 'My Story' - I see the cover, I know it's not for me. Similarly, a cover that I find attractive has probably been designed to suck people-like-me in - and because the publishers know what they're doing, there's normally a story I'll enjoy lying behind the gorgeous cover, printed on decent paper too.
What do you think? How much do/should you judge a book by its cover?
**Edited - because I've read a number of other people's thoughts on this issue - I'll continue to add as I find/re-find them:
Readingfuelledbytea - can you judge a book by its cover?
RochesterReader - the aesthetics of Persephones