While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
I’d like to think that I don’t judge a book by its cover, but I’d be kidding myself. Once I’ve read a book its cover no longer has any influence over whether I enjoyed reading it or not. Once I’ve opened it I tend not to notice the cover. If I know what I’m looking for eg a specific title, or a book by a particular author then the cover doesn’t affect me at all. But it’s a different story when it comes to books I haven’t heard about before and then do find that I am repelled by some covers, indifferent to others and attracted by some. I don’t like those covers where you only see part of the body of, usually a woman, as though she has no head, or feet. I don’t like covers like those on modern publications of Jane Austen’s novels or ones with photos from the film or TV adaptations of a book, or chick lit covers.
I’d like to say that I judge a book by its content alone but I don’t like books that are printed in either a very small or a very large font. I don’t like it when there are large sections printed in italics, or a smaller font – the copy of Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner that I read was like that and I had to flip through the pages to see how much minute font I had to endure. I like the feel of a book in my hands, so smooth, clean paper is a bonus, but I'll still enjoy a book that's printed on cheap paper that's been suffering from too much sun and is falling to pieces.
I don’t mind hardback or paperback, although I get a bit irritated by both if they’re hard to hold open when I’m reading, or if they’re so tightly bound that you can’t see the words in the centre without practically forcing the book open. I'm not keen on those paperbacks that have covers that bend open once I’ve started to read the book. I don’t know the difference between a trade paperback and a mass-market paperback at all, so I can’t comment on that.
It looks as though there’s a lot that I don’t like when I think about it, but if I’m enjoying the content then its format doesn’t really bother me - I just love reading. I like the cover to indicate something about the content of the book and even when it doesn’t I do like scenes like this one on The Magician's Assistant. I must write about this book soon, I finished reading it weeks ago. Part of it is set in Nebraska, but not in a house like the one shown on this cover.
As for illustrations if I’m reading non-fiction then any illustrations - photos, sketches, maps amd plans are a must and I love seeing them – usually I look at them before reading any of the book. A novel is different, as I like to form my own pictures of the characters from the descriptions. But I do like to have maps and plans of the locations. Recently I've read some books set in places I don't know and I have to stop reading to look up the area such as Nigeria when I was reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'll be writing about this book soon - it's an amazing and absorbing book.