So I walk into a bookshop and a book catches my attention. I pick it up and have a quick leaf-through. Is it a book I’d like to buy? Below, in no particular order, are the top ten things that would make me reconsider and put the book back.
1. The new standard size paper back.
Once upon a time, a paperback under 500 pages could be conveniently put into a pocket. I spent most of my school life with a book in my inside-left jacket pocket and more recently in my trouser leg pocket. Since the new standard size, this is no longer the case, they’re now too big and they take up more room on the shelf as well as give books in a series an uneven shelf-line.
2. The story in the book not starting at page 1.
For some reason, the contents page, dedication, copyright page, quotation, other books by the same author/in the same series page, map, page of praise for the author, about the author, the page intentionally left blank, foreword, typeface used page and title page are counted (but not numbered) in the page count meaning that by the time you finally find the story it’s on a page numbered anything from 7 to 23. So if it’s a book 400 pages long, do you subtract the difference, or do you also have to count all the guff after the end of the story as well? Not all books do this, some actually do start at page 1 despite all the faff preceding it, which makes the fact that a lot don’t even more annoying.
3. Excerpts at the back at the book from other books.
With shelf space at a premium, I detest the space wasted by books being several pages thicker than they need to be by featuring the opening chapter or sampler from other books. I find this particularly irksome in trilogies, where if I didn’t enjoy the first book, I’m not likely to read the others, or even keep it, or if I did enjoy it, of course I’m going to read the next two so I really don’t need the first chapter duplicated if I choose to buy them. The older Star Wars books are particularly bad in that they have excerpts for about the same 6 books in almost every single book, including their own book.
4. Multiple pages of author praise (and none of it’s about the book you’re holding).
Apart from being misleading, all this tells me is that at least 20 people out of everyone that has read that author’s books consider them to be “Spellbinding”, “Unputdownable” or “a real page-turner” or other such guff that also tells me that these readers are barely literate or really struggling to say anything meaningful about the author’s works. Are they spellbinding because they have those hypnotic optical illusion covers? Are they unputdownable due to some sort of adhesive smeared over the cover? If it’s a real page-turner, did you read a physical copy where you have to really physically turn the actual real page to read the bloody thing?
If I’m going to have precious bookshelf space (and page count) dedicated to this drivel, at least make it: relevant to the particular book in which they lurk; written by someone who knows how to use those word things; original.
5. The sample page at the front of the book.
Thankfully not all books are burdened by this bit of nonsense. This is a page that you can read that is from the book itself (though is sometimes abridged) to give you an idea of how the book reads. Because you can’t just turn to any single page in the entire bloody book and do that anyway…oh wait, you can. Some books do have on the back cover a suggested page to try out, which works out a lot better and doesn’t waste space.
6. The page dedicated to telling you all about the font used in the book often in quite exquisite detail.
Whoop. De. Do.
7. The ‘about the author page’.
Let me be clear here, I don’t have a problem with the page itself, or even if it goes on over several pages. I find them interesting enough, though nothing I couldn’t have found out on the internet or in every other book by the same author. My issue with this is that there is an irritating inconsistency as to if it’s at the front of the book, or at the back. Why can’t they make up their minds?
8. Too much given away in the blurb.
This is the equivalent of a movie trailer that gives away most of the movie. After I’ve read the blurb, which is almost a short story in its own right, I often go on to discover that there’s little extra in the book except padding.
9. No blurb.
Just what is hidden between the covers of this book? I have to read it and find out? I have too many books on my TBR that I desperately want to read to be wanting to spend time reading…whatever that is.
10. Lack of chronology/book order.
I pick up a book and want to know if it’s the first book in the series, or if it’s a stand-alone. Inside the book in the ‘Books by the same author’ page are the all the books listed but in one of any number of orders but not including the book I’m currently holding. I find a second book by the same author with the list in a different order, and a different length and no mention of either book I’m holding. So these must both be later books then? Which book should I be starting with? Nope, you’ve lost my interest.
Ugly book covers.
From a sea of special offer stickers, I want the one doesn’t have the sticker.
A book from a series not matching the publication of the books I’ve already got.
A book with a sticker you know will not come off.
And that was my top ten book peeves, I hope you enjoyed reading about them. I’d be interested to know if you share any of them or if not. What are your main issues when looking at a book to buy or read?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you like what you’ve seen here, check out the rest of my site, there might be something else you’ll enjoy.