In the rat race that is publishing, everyone is trying to make their books stand out on the shelf. Some retail studies suggest a product has three seconds or less to catch the eye of a shopper. So the package of a book is important, and there is some truth to the cliche about how to judge a book. However, in the rush for recognition, it’s possible to make a major miscalculation.
Like this one, for instance, which sparked the cussing ire of Paul Constant of the Stranger today.
The book in question is Sam Savage’s Firmin, first published in 2006 to good critical review by Coffee House Press, a non-profit house in Minneapolis, which is presumably why it has found new life. Here is the just published edition from Random House.
That cutesy chomp is actually a die-cut, which I’m sure cost a pretty penny in production. The problem? It falls right where many readers would like to hold the book.
The original edition was less slick, but eminently more readable.
The book was also published in the UK this year by Weidenfield & Nicolson, and they seemed to have had a close brush with overly ambitious design as well.
Here’s the UK galley:
And here’s the final book where they wisely pulled back.
It’s still a great story, but it’s always best not to piss off your readers. Also, just from a authenticity point of view, mice always chew from the corners.
Have a story about bad book design that got in the way of YOUR reading experience? Do share.