Posts Tagged ‘book covers’

Book (and one audio) links

September 27, 2013

Here’s a collection of JG Ballard covers done up by James Marsh.  I have still yet to make the leap to ebooks, and this is part of the reason. While I know ebooks still have “covers,” an electronic cover is far from the physical thing in your hands. The book cover is one of the primary ways to attract a reader to a book, being literally the first thing the reader sees.  Looking through these covers and I know that if I was roaming through a bookstore, and saw these covers on the shelf, I’d have to pick at least one of them up and look through it. They’re just interesting and engaging, they pull you in and  make you curious about what past the cover awaits your eye.  While I may, technically, be able to see the same “cover” on my ereader, I think it loses something when you remove its tangibility. It becomes just a picture, something to click through, something easy to be discarded. It is no longer tied to the text in any real way.

Which might be one of the largest problems with ebooks in general. While they offer great convenience, they also become less important because of their literal lack of weight. You don’t have to make room for the book on a shelf or on your coffee table. You don’t have its bulk continually taking up space, shoving itself before your eyes every time you glance in its direction. Ebooks can be forgotten, lost to the ether of ones and zeroes.  While ereaders may have pulled more people than before into the readersphere, they  have also helped for this appearance of a product easily ignored, easily removed from thought.

I’m a bit late to the remembrance, but Carolyn Cassady has passed away. She was the husband of Neal Cassady, the close friend of Beat legend Jack Kerouac. She wrote her own memoir remembering the Beat scene, that I’ve read bits and pieces of and encourage anyone who is interested in that time and place in American literature to check it out.  The whole Beat generation thing seems too often to be overly condensed to Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg, with everyone else reduced to extraordinarily minor  spots – the women especially. Her voice is an important one for perspective on the scene. It shouldn’t be ignored.

And the British aren’t happy about the Booker Prize being opened up to American writers.  Not much to say, as I don’t entirely agree with the opening the Booker competition up, either. It’s okay for it to focus on United Kingdom born writers. I don’t see how it cheapens the prize by maintaining a narrow focus. If anything, I think it opens the prize up to a nearly impossibly deep well of applicants, where merely deciding on finalists from year to year will become increasingly difficult.  Also, there’s nothing wrong with some pride for the UK.

Finally, not book related at all, but you can no preorder a massive Bob Dylan collection. Two things are interesting with this. The first is that it is labeled as “volume one,” but it contains all 35 studio titles that Dylan has released, as well as 6 live albums, and another two disks called “side tracks.” Which leaves me to wonder when (or if) volume two is released, what will be on it.   It makes me wonder if maybe we will see the material Dylan has used to release his occasional “Bootleg Series” editions released in one measure treasure chest of B side and rarity goodness. It is something I would desperately want, but also be desperately unable to afford. The second curious thing about this collection, is that there is an Amazon exclusive version that is packaged as a harmonica…but has all of the songs on a relatively tiny USB drive.  And it’s a hundred bucks more than the conventional collection of CDs, hardcover book, etc. While I think the harmonica thing is cool, you’re also giving up a lot of nice extras – including the physical CDs to keep around as master sources for your own personal rips. I like the idea of the USB stick, but I don’t see how it is worth $365. I’d rather have the box set and all of the tangible swaggy goodness that comes with it.

Book Links 8-6-2012

August 6, 2012

a little late, but that’s better than never.  Been a long day, wrestling with a television and an uncooperative wall mount. With the help of some strategically deformed hockey cards, it is close to level. Anyway, on to the links!

First is this brief interview of Chip Kidd on NPR. He designs book covers for Knopf. You’ve seen his work. And he seems to have become a fiercely captivating defender of books as actual, physical objects. The one thing that stuck out, and it’s at the end of the article (an audio version is available at the top) is that hardcover books are really “luxury” items. I don’t disagree, but this is also where I see a problem with the trade paperbacks (TPB) that have become so popular, nearly entirely displacing the smaller, cheaper mass market paperback (MMPB). What it really boils down to, for me, is that TPBs are just too damn expensive for paperback books and have helped drive people away from actual physical books and into the arms of ereaders everywhere. Then again, it may have been a price move the publishing houses needed to make and could only justify it with the snazzier format. I don’t know. I just miss my cheap MMPBs. And, for anyone interested, here is Chip Kidd’s TedTalk.

PW has a short piece about how ebooks are also killing the backlists of publishers. When you walked into Borders and saw not just Grisham’s newest novel but the five million and seventy-four thousand others he had written, those were backlists. With far fewer book stores, sales for the backlists have been pushed into the cyberworld. And sales have went down. Shocking. It’s hard to sell a book when you can’t see it, especially amidst the mountain of product that is Amazon.

and here’s the only known video of Mark Twain.
Oh, and another piece at PW about the Department of Justice asking the court to ratify their plea agreement with three publishers in the government’s quest to hand the publishing industry over to Amazon. I’ve posted my distaste for Amazon more than once here, you can find it if you’re interested.  Cheaper doesn’t always (in fact, almost never) equals better.  While I miss cheap paperbacks, I understand it’s not my god given right to them. And that, eventually, you get what you pay for. So, if being able to pay $10 instead of $15 for a new book by your favorite author is worth this much to you, remember, eventually we all sow what we reap.  Sowing the end of a publishing industry that we know may not reap the glorious rewards some companies are promising.