“Is a book art?” the teacher asked the class. I sat beside my daughter, observing her class as part an art appreciation exercise. The students speculated that the book might contain art or illustrations, but the teacher pressed the point about the book itself. If it were blank, could the book still be art?
“Think about the texture, the cover, the spine, the crispness of the pages,” she said, showing examples of different book bindings. Some were serious, hardcover volumes bound in black leather. Others were silly and whimsical, their covers full of vibrant felt swatches.
I thought about how the book itself was art, in that depending on how a book is crafted, it can evoke different reactions from the audience, and I remembered fondly different volumes I’ve hefted over the years, and the range of reactions I’ve felt.
And then I realized two distinct reactions with regard to my own craft. The first was a twinge of sadness, because as an e-published author, none of my readers benefit from that tactile experience. I have no control over the weight or color of their e-reader. I can’t even control their font, as the HTML based code allows most readers to apply the font type and size they find most agreeable. For a moment, I lamented depriving my readers of a richer experience, but then I felt the second reaction: an iota of relief. These were additional details that I don’t have to worry about book after book, release after release.
I still worry about formatting, of course. I can tweak the code so that each paragraph, each chapter has crisp lines. I can format my artwork to be legible despite the resolution. I create covers that are distinct, but don’t need to be as eye-catching as a physical book. Most of the time, my covers are viewed as thumbnails, where rich, minute detail is often squandered. (That said, I fully admit that my covers…could be better).
I do hope to someday publish hardcopy as well as electronic (maybe as a Togahan’s Tenth Anniversary?). Until then, I’ll focus on writing the best story I can, and format it in a way that is easiest on your eyes. And hopefully the experience evokes something good in you, my readers.