Picture a book. Hold a book in your hands. Feel the texture. Examine the cover. Look at the publication page, the dedication, the acknowledgments. Even before you’ve opened to the first page, you’ve come face-to-face with a work of art.
Look at the binding, the spine, the crispness of the book jacket. The book designer is, like the writer, an artist. Most of us love the feel of a book in our hands. The weight, the shape, the construction. There is a bit of magic there, no denying.
Art is a pleasure-filled thing. Place yourself before a beautiful painting or run your hands over a well-crafted sculpture, and there is a sense of calm and appreciation that seems a part of our DNA. A book is no different. The writer pours heart and soul in the crafting of a story or the creation of a captivating character, and this is no different from the painter spending hours turning a blank canvas into an expression of emotion. Then that manuscript is entrusted to a man or woman who may or may not have any writing skill: the book designer. What they do have is a passion for seeing to the evolution of that manuscript into a finished book that does justice to the blood, sweat, and tears that the writer invested into the words.
The right font is like the right color. The right formatting is like the right brushstroke. Proofreading is like prepping the canvas. The perfect spine is like the perfect lighting. You get the idea.
We’ve seen the introduction and proliferation of the Kindle and the ease with which a book can be displayed on an iPad or smartphone. Nothing wrong with this, except for the loss of what I consider a fine art: that of book design and the construction of something that fits perfectly in your hand or on your lap when you’re sitting in that comfortable chair at home or under an umbrella on the beach. Now that’s how to read a book, how to touch the many layers of art that go into a book, and the gift of writer and designer.