Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Read to cover to read

I've been reading Lloyd Jones’ Hand Me Down World and been imagining how excited Chong may have been when he was reading it with the purpose of covering it.
A book often has many covers over its life. An Australian book sold to other countries will often be covered differently to 'suit the market' there. Or the C format first edition may be considered too literary to work as a B format edition, which is generally issued at a lower RRP for wider, more mainstream appeal.
As I read Hand Me Down World, (the paperback C format Australian paperback edition, which is the same as the original Australian C format hardback), I believe Chong may have come up with the quintessential cover for it. I find it intriguing that the publishers in England and New Zealand each opted for different approaches. 

As I read my Australian copy, I keep turning back to the front and the back covers to take in the quiet determination on Ines' face, to remind myself how apt it is that she's in profile, eyes closed; to notice the style of the blue coat, to check the boys clothes as he kicks the ball. I contemplate it all and reflect on it’s ‘rightness’ for the words within.
This ‘turning back’ to the cover whilst reading is integral to the reading experience, and is something we do unconsciously, so very naturally. We turn the book in our hands back to front, front to back. It allows the reader time to reflect and consider. It can be a designers dream to have this happen.
I’ll be honest here that I’ve only read part of three published books on my ipad. Apart from the obvious considerations of lessening bulk and paper wastage, and now, after the honeymoon flutters with technology have passed, I find the reading experience quite lacking.
Call me a Philistine but I think Steve Jobs and Robert Brunner, (the designer of the Kindle), could enhance the digital experience such that the reader can experience the cover anytime they wish whilst reading. How hard can it be?