Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Spines

Unsurprisingly I've spent the largest part of today in bed. Most of that time has been spent asleep but quite a bit has been vaguely staring at the ceiling or the wall or the bookshelves wondering when it's going to be time for the next painkillers. It's not an exciting way to spend the day but it keeps me out of trouble.

So anyway, I was staring at my bookshelf when I noticed something about the spines of the books. There are three different styles.

1. Large and/or interesting font for the book title, small subtle font for the author name. Examples of this include Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel by Scott Adams.

2. The same size and possibly the same exact font for both title and author. Prime examples from my shelves include anything by Ian McEwan, and the individual books of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

3. Large and quite possibly shiny lettering for the author's name, with the title of the book seeming to be a bit of an afterthought. The major culprit here is the hardback of Next (or at least I hope that was the title, given the size of lettering one would be forgiven for thinking it was the publisher) by big, red, shiny Michael Crichton, although Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code (yes, I know, I know) makes a significant effort as well.

So I started wondering, is there any kind of system to figuring out the prominence ratio for authors and titles? There's none I can really work out from my own collection, past the fact that books by the same author published by the same publisher tend to be consistent in style. There's no similarity for different authors by the same publisher (except for Penguin Pound Classics which are pretty much a set in their own right) and it's annoying.

From the above you may draw your own conclusions about where exactly my head is at today. Sorry. This stuff has been bugging me all afternoon and evening and it needed to come out. Please add your own thoughts.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed this too, and decided the following:

If the more popular the author (Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Danielle Steel etc) the bigger the name.

If the book is part of a series (Harry Potter etc) then the title will be huge.

Mary said...

But what about the Discworld series by popular author Terry Pratchett?

There is no sense!

Anonymous said...

My dad told me that on the front cover of a book if the author is very popular the name will come first but if it's their first book then the title comes first...I'm not sure how right this is and don't think it helps with the spine thing.

I might have to investigate myself, thanks Mary, thanks a lot! :)

Anonymous said...

lol, i do graphic design and im currently doin a book cover for this project... I wrote the book im doin the cover for, I WANT BIG SHINY LETTERS! XD
I think it depends on the genre as well... but i havent looked enough to say what this pattern could be...