Reading a new book by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Elizabeth Strout,  I am appalled at its published condition.  This selection was made by my book group, so it was purchased on-line, not from the flea market from which most of my books come.

First, the dust jacket of “The Burgess Boys” had to go.

the burgess boys

Along with the dust jacket not fitting the book well, look at the above design decision.  The vertical black and white area to the left of this front jacket is not just the spine design, it migrates to the front plane of the book.  It kind of denies the three dimensional object that the book is.  Very unsettling to this visual artist.  Had to throw the jacket away to begin the book.

But the wonkiness and unworkability of the book are due to its unbelievable binding.  If I open the book and let gravity do its work on the pages, my cat, Mouse, could jump through the hole made between the spine and the pages.


The above Mouse hole did not always look like this.  There was a little white something in there, and I pulled it out.  It was not attached within the hole in any way.


Remember the brown paper towels you used in elementary school?  A bit of one of those is what we have here, with less than a square inch of some form of woven textile at each end.  I pulled it right out!

Who is the publisher, you say?  Random House!  What is going on here?  Not in the business, not a librarian, not really living in this century, living mostly by intuition, I had no idea that we were so far down the e-book road.  This book does not look or feel or act like it was created by some entity that loves books, that is for sure.

Elizabeth must be embarrassed.


5 thoughts on “AN ARGUMENT FOR BOOKS?

  1. Wow, what a post! What a shame. Books are beautiful and this one, just ugly, not nice to hold, to consider it’s construction – what a disaster. Did you read and how did it feel, smell?

  2. I am still in the process of reading it. Trying to disregard all the details that are disturbing. Smell, not usual or unusual, holding the book? Like trying to take a bunch of cats on leashes for a walk!

  3. Well made books are getting rarer. I do volunteer work at our library’s bookstore and most of our hardback books are being sold cheaper than the paper backs. I think most newer books are not even offered in hard backs.

  4. This makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe I am well behind the curve of information. Reading this book this afternoon, the (paper) covering of the spine is now falling apart. Does the world know that paperbacks are getting better and hard backs getting worse?

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