13 6 / 2013
12 6 / 2013
The boy and I are on book 5 (of 8) of the Moomin books. When we’ve finished that series, we’re going to read the Tumtum & Nutmeg books by Emily Bearn, the My Father’s Dragon stories, the Mary Poppins books, and Narnia.
Which means I already have a plan for the next 20+ books we’re going to read. I’m so impatient. I want to have read them all already and be constantly in that book-love-wonder state. And be able to share that with this magical child.
11 6 / 2013
06 6 / 2013
I try not to be too critical of people who come into my store with limited book knowledge. For example, when a young woman (20’s maybe?) asked me for “1980 by Orwell” today, I didn’t correct her. I knew what she wanted and I’m aware of all the many other places she could buy a copy of 1984. I’m grateful for the people who walk through my doors. Why be picky?
That said, I just got off the phone with someone who was hunting for a history textbook for a college course. She gave me the title and described it as having a picture of a man climbing on a rock on the cover. A book with that title had an image of the face of Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore with scaffolding all around it. I was convinced she couldn’t be that stupid, so I kept asking questions. Turns out she was looking for a different edition. Just as I was starting to feel better about the conversation (ignoring the fact that she had to dig around in a bag to find the syllabus, rather than having it in-hand when dialing the phone), she said the cover photo was of a man in a hard hat with “like, a church or something in the middle.”
It was the Empire State Building.
Please understand. I’m not making fun of her. I just sort of feel like the whole country failed at something big today.
29 5 / 2013
04 5 / 2013
‘Cause I seriously don’t like the trend I’m seeing.
Lauren Groff’s Arcadia is brilliant. Positively brilliant.I love the artwork on the jacket of the hardcover. It’s evocative. It’s true to the book. That psychedelic butterfly, that art-nouveau-Haight-Ashbury-poster font, they suggest that the images in the book are going to be striking. And they are. (The book is BRILLIANT. Just go read it already, okay?)
Then there’s the paperback. It was released only seven months after the hardcover and it looks like a totally different book. Okay, so maybe the sky shows a bit of foreboding, but what about hippie blue VW van and sunflowers says “America is an experiment and it might fail if we’re not smart”? Nothing. This cover says, “Please pick this book for book club. It looks innocuous, right? But there are hippies, so surely that’ll be enough to spark a conversation!”
Okay, admittedly, I haven’t read Chris Cleave’s newest. I wasn’t fond of Little Bee (and it had nothing to do with the beach scene), so I’ve been reluctant to give him another try. The hardcover of Gold has a graphically appealing cover that is very similar to those of Little Bee and Incendiary. They’re not a series, so that wasn’t necessary, but I liked it.
I’ve just seen the paperback cover of Gold and I hate it. It looks way too happy. Maybe the book is happy (as I said, I haven’t read it), but the little girl in the book has leukemia. And she’s eight and probably too old to ride on someone’s shoulders, but now I’m just being picky.
Also, the photoshopped pinwheel is horrendous! First, she’s holding it backwards. Second, it should be nearer to her knuckles. Thirdly, the bottom had to be shifted over because that stick, if allowed to go straight, would’ve gone through her wrist.
A Good American had such an attractive hardcover jacket. I don’t think the paperback is bad, really, but these three examples betray the trend of changing the hardcover art design from graphic and unisex to photoshopped and book club friendly.
Here’s another one:
Another book I liked that got a paperback cover art face lift was Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers. Look how stark that red, white, and black jacket is! It’s gorgeous! This is a book about pain and healing. It’s serious.
The image on the cover of the paperback is so out of place. Who in this book would wear yellow tulle? I know, I know, I shouldn’t be so literal. But I honestly don’t think that image has anything to do with the content aside from the fact that the girl is clutching some flowers. The hardcover looked elegant, the paperback looks girlie.
In all of these cases (and others, trust me), the number of colors increases and the cover’s universal appeal decreases. Were these books men weren’t buying anyway? If so, do these girlie covers sell more books? If so, I’m for it. By all means, put stock images of little girls and/or flowers on everything!
Still, I’m leery of the term “book club fiction,” which seems to be a nice way of saying “smarter chick lit” or something else that’s equally marginalizing. I really liked The Language of Flowers and I simply can’t say enough good things about Arcadia. I don’t want such good writing to have trouble finding an audience because of a weird marketing choice.
Also, I genuinely like the hardcover artwork more on all of these.
Here are a few whose paperback iterations I think are actually stronger.
Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle, fantastic short story collection
Mr. Peanut and Ladies and Gentlemen, both by Adam Ross and both exceptional.
But do you see how they’re different from the book-club-y ones? They’re cooler somehow, even though the hardcovers were nice already.
As a bookseller, I can say that it confuses people to see the cover art of the hardcover everywhere and then not be able to recognize the paperback as the same book.
Maybe I don’t have a point. Or maybe my point is that your book club should read Arcadia. Or shouldn’t, depending on the book club, I guess.
27 4 / 2013
23 4 / 2013