I went into a Waterstones the other day to buy the sequel to a book I am currently reading (sort of post-dissertation therapy), and had a look around at what is out there at the moment, and noticed something which kind of annoyed me. Silly books have beautifully printed editions, while the ones that make your soul throb with delight and thought are left with cheap paperbacks.
Probably because of a very clever marketing team, who realized that, just like a live person, if they are not intelligent or special, they should at least be pretty to look at. And so it happens that we pick up books because they have brilliant blue edged pages, patterned covers that make you want to stare at them until the bookshop closes, or you end up buying them. And it annoys me beyond belief.
Because it tricks you. And yes, if you are the sort of person who judges a book by its cover, then you are the sort who will either not mind the poor plot or writing technique, or someone who, at least deserves to be fooled. But I am a visual person. I love books and I want to illustrate them, and I think that by illustrating a book you compliment it, you give it a spark that it deserves to have. You are telling the book how much you appreciate its words. Terrible books look pretty only so that they would be bought by the gullible. They don’t deserve that blue-edged page. They don’t deserve the vibrant colours that sign to you across the bookshop.
Alas… this is all a pointless rant because, to be honest, we live in the sort of world where value is judged by the buck. This world doesn’t care about content, it cares about the figures and the sales. And that is a bit sad.