I love books. I always have. The very first one was Golden Book’s Pokey Little Puppy. The one I learned how to read aloud was Never Talk to Strangers. I also loved Where The Wild Things Are. Dr. Seuss was fun too, but for some reason creeped me out sometimes.
My all time favorite wasn’t a story book at all. It was The Golden Treasury of Natural History by Bertha Morris Parker. Yup, that’s the original book from 1971 over there on the right.
I LOVED this book. It was full of animals. All kinds of animals. I never tired of looking at the illustrations of dinosaurs, gem stones, plants, insects and, my favorites on pages 212 and 213, the big cats and wolves.
As I got older, this book helped me learn to draw. I’d spend hours copying the style of each illustrator and honed my own wildlife illustration skills.
Over the years, books have been more than stories or sources of information. They’ve been works of art. The covers are always the first to attract. When I got into my Fantasy phase in my teens, I was always a sucker for a well-done cover. Didn’t matter who wrote it. I’d pick up the book just because the illustration was cool. This got me into Terry Brooks (covers usually illustrated by the Brothers Hildebrandt), Anne McCaffery, and Melanie Rawn (both illustrated by Michael Whelan).
The books didn’t always live up to the covers in a lot of cases. And sometimes a friend would recommend an author with a really crappy cover, but the story was great. Mists of Avalon has to be my all time favorite novel. I never thought the cover was anything overly fantastic, however, it was the first book I really paid attention to the interior layout.
My love of books has grown into this all-encompassing appreciation. I look at everything now; the cover, the writing and the way all the elements are put together. After having produced several printed books for clients and our own Loyalties, it’s a conscious effort to let go of the technical aspect and just enjoy a story.
I have to say when the e-readers like Kindle and Nook first came out I was a little worried. Covers would only be seen in black and white, formatting was extremely limited and that lovely font you chose for your text? Forget about it. The choices were reduced to a handful of basic fonts nowhere near as pretty as what you chose for your printed version.
Happily for those of us who appreciate typography, all of that is rapidly changing. I had the opportunity to view Loyalties on a Nook Color and it was gorgeous. All the formatting and fonts used in the printed version showed up the same and I nearly did a happy dance. There’s hope that before long, ebooks for these various devices will become art forms too.
How about you? Where did your love of books come from? Do you look at books as an overall art form? Do you look at them from a strictly writing point of view? Have you designed your own covers or interior?