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.?
I’™d like to think that I don’™t judge a book by its cover, but I’™d be kidding myself. Once I’™ve read a book its cover no longer has any influence over whether I enjoyed reading it or not. Once I’™ve opened it I tend not to notice the cover. If I know what I’™m looking for eg a specific title, or a book by a particular author then the cover doesn’™t affect me at all. But it’™s a different story when it comes to books I haven’™t heard about before and then do find that I am repelled by some covers, indifferent to others and attracted by some. I don’™t like those covers where you only see part of the body of, usually a woman, as though she has no head, or feet. I don’™t like covers like those on modern publications of Jane Austen’™s novels or ones with photos from the film or TV adaptations of a book, or chick lit covers.
I’™d like to say that I judge a book by its content alone but I don’™t like books that are printed in either a very small or a very large font. I don’™t like it when there are large sections printed in italics, or a smaller font ‘“ the copy of Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner that I read was like that and I had to flip through the pages to see how much minute font I had to endure. I like the feel of a book in my hands, so smooth, clean paper is a bonus, but I’ll still enjoy a book that’s printed on cheap paper that’s been suffering from too much sun and is falling to pieces.
I don’™t mind hardback or paperback, although I get a bit irritated by both if they’™re hard to hold open when I’™m reading, or if they’™re so tightly bound that you can’™t see the words in the centre without practically forcing the book open. I’m not keen on those paperbacks that have covers that bend open once I’™ve started to read the book. I don’™t know the difference between a trade paperback and a mass-market paperback at all, so I can’™t comment on that.
It looks as though there’™s a lot that I don’™t like when I think about it, but if I’™m enjoying the content then its format doesn’™t really bother me – I just love reading. I like the cover to indicate something about the content of the book and even when it doesn’™t I do like scenes like this one on The Magician’s Assistant. I must write about this book soon, I finished reading it weeks ago. Part of it is set in Nebraska, but not in a house like the one shown on this cover.
As for illustrations if I’™m reading non-fiction then any illustrations – photos, sketches, maps amd plans are a must and I love seeing them ‘“ usually I look at them before reading any of the book. A novel is different, as I like to form my own pictures of the characters from the descriptions. But I do like to have maps and plans of the locations. Recently I’ve read some books set in places I don’t know and I have to stop reading to look up the area such as Nigeria when I was reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ll be writing about this book soon – it’s an amazing and absorbing book.