Judge A Book By It’s Cover.

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty. 

As illustrated from my previous posts, I am a self-proclaimed, proud, outspoken bibliophile.  I love most everything about books.  Book-sales?  Love them.  Bookstores?  Love them.  Reading? Of course, love it. The great Carl Sagan spoke for me when he rhapsodized that,

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for saganthousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.

Hear, hear Carl!  No doubt, books are magic. They have metaphysical superpowers. 

As I am sure my fellow bibliophiles will freely admit, there  is even more to our obsession with these ‘leaves’ and ‘pigmented squiggles’.  You see, as a lover of books, I yearn for the emotional, spiritual fulfillment that Sagan poeticizes.  But, just as important is the physical nature of books.  A book is a feast for the senses.  The look of the cover, paper and text; the smell of the pages, glue and ink; the feel of the paper; the sound of the turning pages, These sensations assist any true book fetish.  

In fact, Sagan’s metaphysical magic can only be created if the physical is just right. It is difficult to lose yourself in a book if the environmental surroundings are distracting.  It is similar when it comes to the physical components of the text. For me to be enraptured by the spiritual, the physical ‘look’ or ‘feel’ of the book generally must meet certain criteria.  These are,

  • Paperbacks please! Paperbacks are better than hardcover as they are lighter in the hand, and malleable.
  • No small text! I don’t want my eyes to hurt after one page.
  • Down with tiny margins! I want to feel like I am progressing in the book, and with tiny text and small margins, one page can take an hour to read.  I would rather read a format with larger text and margins making a book 1000 pages long, than a format that shrinks down such a book to 200 pages. I want to feel like I am progressing.
  • Pages should be rough to the touch, with a hefty thickness. I don’t want to see the next pages text bleeding through the current page.
  • I like a pretty face. Though not absolutely necessary, an intriguing cover is a nice bonus.

book_of_art_01These physical attributes make a magical book even more readable.  Of course, I can look past some of these criteria if it is absolutely necessary.  However, if a book that sounds interesting is missing many of these criteria, it will often fall down my “what to read next” list.

Physical appearance is central.  All of this may seem superficial to some, though I am certain we all share the same feelings regarding the objects of our desire.  It is nice to tell ourselves that we only think about what is inside, but the truth is we always are concerned about the physical…..

Please people!  Get your minds out of the gutter.  I am talking about books here. Come on!

  1. Gemma Blair says:

    I find that for me, switching over to my tablet was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. From your piece, it appears that you haven’t made the switch at all.

    I miss the smell, the feel, and the overall completed feeling I get when I’m reading a physical book. These things can’t be reproduced with an e-book, and I do still own several hard copies of books I truly love. However, being as that I usually read about 6 books at one time, the tablet has been pretty much a lifesaver. No longer do I have to carry an epic purse of books (no seriously, I had a bag of holding and all it held was books) I can fit my tablet in just about any normal human sized purse. I can also carry significantly more with me. So if I know I’m going to finish one book, I don’t have to wait until I get home or to the library to start a new one, I can just browse the store and pick what I like.

    As an extra comment, I see that bottom image and I want to flay whoever did that to a book. Barbaric.

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