Now here’s the problem.
Every time I mention to someone that I intend to be a book illustrator, I am met with the same answer: “But aren’t books a thing of the past?”. And every time I angrily, and somewhat obsessedly, reply with a definite and desperate: NO!
I believe this is something which only regular readers will understand. And by regular reader I mean someone who loves to read. Yes, there are audiobooks and e-books out there now. Yes, they are cheaper and more environment-friendly than the traditional paper book. But that doesn’t mean people who love reading will stop buying the books. It might be nostalgia for our lost childhoods. It might be sheer stubbornness. I can’t put my finger on one particular reason for this, but the fact of the matter is this: you cannot replace the feel of a book. You don’t buy a book just for its content. You buy it for its weight, its physicality. You buy it for the smell. You buy it for the feeling you get when one side of the book becomes heavier than the other as you plow through the words and pages. You buy it for the artwork. You buy it for your potential, future children. You buy it so that one day you can hand over a bookcase of books picked and loved by you, which will tell the word the kind of reader you were and the kind of person you chose to become.
Sure, you can pass on a kindle. But will it have that old smell about it? Will it have the little hand-written notes and scribbles; your footprints through that printed, wonderful world?
And because to us readers, books are so much more than the sum total of their words, we care about editions. It’s why we get stupidly, unapologetically excited when a favourite author announces a new edition, with a new cover and a new design. Books are an investment.
So when Neil Gaiman shows us the little gems he will publish again through Harper Collins, with book covers featuring Robert E. McGinnis’ paintings, we start counting our pocket money.
Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors and people. His books are not just stories I have read. His books are part of who I am. His characters have whispered into my ear and then slithered into my heart, making a nest of half imagined worlds. His books are the companions I want on a dark and stormy night…
So yes. I am excited and I will spend my money on these editions. Because the covers are a befitting face to his stories, and the art is amazing. They also appeal to my nostalgic side with their retro design, even though I had not yet been born when this style was considered modern, fresh, and fashionable.
… I got carried away. And I rambled a bit. The point of this post was a note to my future self on how the whole process of choosing a type for a cover and then tweaking the design works. Oh well. At least the link will not get lost somewhere between the dozens of bookmarks already saved on my browser.