I was barely old enough to read the first time someone tossed “don’t judge a book by its cover” into my arsenal of clichés. Although well intentioned, the saying actually has little applicability to the book industry because books are and will continue to be judged by the quality of their cover art. My roommates are vocal supporters of judging books exclusively on exterior value, and after two years together, I finally decided to find out why. After a lengthy discussion, they pinpointed four structural components that make or break their reading material.
Page count means different things to different readers. Fans of epic fantasy won’t be deterred by a book that counts 900 pages, but someone looking for a quick read won’t want to wrestle with more than 300. Although Fury was clear that people should choose based on their own needs and lifestyles, she champions epic fantasy, textbooks, and even atlases. Apparently, larger books make better nap pads.
Used books have a place in the hearts of bookworms. A worn book is a loved book. Few would gravitate exclusively toward books with broken bindings, but Damon was adamant that the bindings of his favorite ink and paper companions be broken. He wouldn’t elaborate, but, like Fury, I suspect he prefers sleeping on his books to reading them.
Hardcover vs. Paperback
Have you ever tried to rub your face against the corner of a paperback book? I doubt it, so trust Damon and Durza on this one. Hardcover is the only option.
All books are capable of being shelved in a respectable manner, but according to Damon, you really need a healthy combination of size and style to create an acceptable arrangement that offers enough space for a feline book nook.
Although they made some fair points and will undoubtedly continue to disagree with me, my roommates pay far too much attention to a book’s cover. With time and effort, I may be able to convince them to join those of us who care more about the words on a book’s page than the pages themselves.
Books have always been my favorite accessories. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t buried in their pages. “She’s going to be a writer,” my mom would tell dinner guests as I shook breadcrumbs out of my book. I never really thought about doing anything else with my life. It seemed like it had been decided so many years ago. I would be a writer. I fought my instincts all the way through my second year of journalism in college before I finally ran out of gas and admitted my biggest fear: I didn’t want to be a writer.
The ensuing identity crisis was turbulent. In freeing myself from the race to create the “next Great American novel,” I felt as though I might have lost my chance to create anything. It’s difficult to be part of a species obsessed with creation when you don’t feel a desire to add to its library, but I’ve learned a lot about my definition of creativity over the last few years. Here are five things every supporting player in the book industry should remember.
1.) Being an enthusiastic audience member is just as important as writing the play, scoring the film, or designing the set.
Addressing fans at the final Harry Potter film premiere, J.K. Rowling said, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” The audience's role is just as important as the role of the writer or the performer. The ability to absorb a new idea or concept is creativity in its rawest form. Just because you didn’t create the words on the page does not mean you’re a passive consumer without value or creative abilities.
2.) Love things with an unapologetic enthusiasm.
When you’re not at peace with your role in life, it can be difficult to enjoy others’ artistic efforts. The books, shows, and art you used to love might suddenly trigger an irritable response. Don’t let your perception of what you think you should do limit who you are. Inspiration is everywhere. Absorb new ideas. Explore new environments. Be who you are in this moment. Love things enthusiastically and unapologetically without forcing yourself to contribute an unnecessary admission fee.
3.) Don’t confuse creation with affirmation.
I get it. It’s difficult to be surrounded by successful writers, writers/editors, designers, and photographers if you’re struggling with your creative identity. But they will be the first people to tell you that a need for positive affirmation does nothing to drive their creative impulses. Their need to create is driven by curiosity and a love for the creative process, not by a positive reception. Just because you don’t thrive on that creative process doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. Embrace what makes you different.
4.) Cut yourself some slack.
Life isn’t about overcoming obstacles that block the path to who you think you should be. Life is about exploring different abilities and letting yourself be what feels right to you. Be the first person in line to cut yourself some slack.
5.) Don’t be afraid to be a human bookend.
There’s a reason we have marketing and publicity departments. There’s a reason we have booksellers and librarians. Not everyone wants to be the next John Green. I’ve learned to embrace my supporting role in this industry. I am a proud human bookend. Now it’s your turn.
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