26.12.09

Complaint Department: Annoying Book Designs, and The Troubles They Cause



This post by Blue Remembered Hills engendered an excellent discussion about book design a few weeks ago.  Today, I have a pet peeve to add to the list:

Having finished disposing of the usual Christmas trash, I am now moving about 700 books from one location to another in the house.  It is mostly a pleasurable task, coming across old favorites, appreciating the design of others, to say nothing of floor space freed up in the tiny sittng room that the books are leaving. .  There is however, a tiny blot on that happiness, and I am going voice another book design peeve to add to the list:  Books that are longer than they are high, particularly if they are published only in papercover.   It may be a lovely design conceit, especially if one is featuring very horizontal images, but most would be as well served if they were in a regular vertical format.  Why do they peeve me?  The coffee table books thus designed cannot be shelved in a regular depth shelf.  Nor, for that matter can some of the smaller ones (half folio and smaller).  The paperback volumse inevitably fan or warp open on the edge while shelved.  I've tried everything over the years---laying them flat (they still curl and warp), shelving them together, even if it puts them out of category (see laying flat) putting them between larger volumes (there's still always an inch that fans out), weighting them down with something ornamental (it doesn't really serve a book well to have a terra cotta architectural ornament resting on it), and the most drastic solution, giving them to the library book sale.  Additionally, the exposed edges get dirty (yes, the shelves do get dusted).   Wonderful custom slipcases would be the answer, but damn those taxes and new roofs.

A few of the offenders, favorites all.

Oh, and pet peeve #3:  I have quite a few paperback monographs, some without titles on the spine.  Give me a break.  It wouldn't take that much more ink.  Then I could locate them on the shelf easily. Duh.


There, that's off my chest.  Back to sorting books.

Hope you all had a happy holiday.  I did.  Good company, good food, good drink----the first two almost to happy excess, the latter in sensible moderation.

22 comments:

Blue said...

I have spent some time looking for books here in New York but rejected a number because of format. Mind you, had the content had any substance I probably would have bought. It makes me wonder if the designers, even publishers, are readers.

little augury said...

Slipcases are a perfect solution,Blue I believe houses his magazine collections in bindings of leather-maybe some of your favourite books would warrant that. I try to think of the shabbier ones especially favourites dog ears and all as fine old friends-forgiving them their sins. I do agree with Blue about the crop of newish books though-the idea of More is more is naught. It is unfortunate the market is glutted because it is fashionable to "collect" coffee table books(a category as it is called that I loathe to use) I think many publishers know that many of their buyers dont read-easier all round for them. GT

The Down East Dilettante said...

Thanks Blue and Augury for your comments.

Although I like a little excess as much as the next person, I do hope that the 'more is more' syndrome is winding down for awhile. Tired I am of over designed books, over designed houses, oversized cookies, and giant martini glasses.

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