I have a problem that I don’t really consider to be a problem: I’m willing to spend way more money on a more attractive copy of a book that I intend to buy. Aesthetics are a big deal to me, especially when it come to my books. I love the idea of color-coding one’s bookcase; especially in those luxurious pictures online of a whole wall of sectional bookcases, with each section revealing the many spinal hues of each color. I, however, would never do this. In theory, it’s a great idea, but I like to keep “families” together and all too often, books in a series don’t maintain a constant color scheme. I refuse to separate my Harry Potter books just based on color. They must stick together, and thus the color-coding notion is discarded.
I am quite meticulous about book height, though. I have my bookcase organized based on height and in continual descending order. Again, books in a “family” must all be the same height. This may be particular to me and my preferences (I’ve seen some very haphazard bookshelf sorting that make me cringe), but it also may not. The main drive behind reading and buying books is preference; just browsing through a book store doesn’t tell you anything about the plot twists or character struggles. Sometimes, it’s all about what catches your eye, and for books, this makes looks very important.
We’re a very visual society; television, cinema, video games, etc. have increased in popularity with the increase in technology and visual capabilities. If a book wants to get noticed, if it doesn’t already have the cult following of many classics (which pretty much ensures continual reading among future generations), or if a book wants to set itself apart from all the other things you don’t want to read on just that shelf at the bookstore, it will HAVE to employ some sort of eye-catching cover art, interesting title, or elaborate spine decoration which makes it the one you pick. A book needs to catch your eye for survival purposes! Maybe it’s a library book and it has to remain popular or it will get the boot; maybe you bought it, read it, and are now letting it live on as decoration in your home. It has to look good to survive. I have a huge stack of books that weren’t attractive enough to take up much-needed space on my shelf. They cry about it everyday, but it’s their own fault for not being better looking.
I remember when Hannah begged me to read the A Song of Ice and Fire series for months before I actually picked it up. I thought the cover was boring, that was my whole reasoning. Not only do books have to compete with technology these days, but they often have to employ the advancements in the visual arts for cover art the will capture my eye. I was generally offended that G.R.R.M’s publishers didn’t try harder. “Um, let’s just make each volume a solid color with some vague symbol on the front, okay?” No, not okay. I’m sure I’m not the first to look at that cover, think “well that looks boring” and pass it up for something far less entertaining and worth my while. Publishers need not be so lazy!
In the spirit of this topic, I postponed purchasing my own copies of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series until I found just the right set. I wanted them to be old, preferably hard cover volumes, used but with no notes or blemishes, and all of the same “family.” Well lucky me, I found them this past weekend at a used bookstore in Nashville, TN. They don’t have the hard covers, but they have been loved by someone before me, have unique, eye-catching covers and all belong to the same family (and they have that amzing smell that buying new versions just can’t provide). On a sidenote, I also got a hard cover used copy of Rebecca so I’m also stoked about that! Patience and superficial preferences pay off and I found some really great treasures!
I know I’m not the only one! Does anyone else have preferences in regards to your books? I’d love to hear from you!