Monday, September 25, 2006

SB Day: Fonts of Knowledge

This SB Day is a short one. Apologies and all but I’m not quite ready to get back into the swing of it.

I’m reading along yesterday, just minding my own business, when I flip to my second book and POW! It was like I’d invested in a large print volume without knowing it. Not only was the font three sizes up (at least) from that of the book I’d been reading, but the headers, footers and the leading (sp?) line were all larger too. To make matters worse, the large print book was only a page longer than its petite counterpart and all together had felt rather rushed.

Normally font means nothing more to me than a stylistic choice of the publishers, a way to possibly set the mood or time in a subtle manner. The sizable font of the second book seemed to be only for the purpose of filling up extra pages, something I’m fine with if the plot and overall construct don’t seem to be lacking. Unfortunately the plot holes combined with the font size gave me the feeling that this project was rushed and that the writer and editor should have gone back for a rewrite or two, pushing back the release date.

Does anyone else every feel this way when you open up a book for X price and realize that some other title might give you more words and plot per dollar or am I a freak?

Is font size ever a distraction?

Has it ever helped add something to the story you were reading?


P.S. Happy Birthday to Doug as well.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've never found a font to be too large, but how a book is printed does affect my reading enjoyment. I don't want to finish a marathon couch day with a headache from eye strain either because the font is too small or curly. I also don't want to emerge from the book cave that is my bedroom with black fingers that have smudged my white comforter. Good ink and simple moderately sized font is worth the extra dollar for me. But really, as long as the story is good I'm ok with the cheap black ink being all over my nose because I am holding the page of miniscule font so close to my face.
The Druggie

Wesley Smith said...

I'm not terribly bothered when a book pads its pages with white space, but it does confuse me. Why would a publisher stretch a book to 300 pages when, say, 200 would do, and they could charge the same price?

m said...

This past weekend, I was reading a copy of Ivanhoe published in 1941 and I was digging the old font.

Amie Stuart said...

My crit partner just did a hilarious post last week on this. Yes it's annoying as all get out to pay 14.00 for a 200 page book with size 16 fonts and 1 inch margins. I exagerate a bit but you get my drift.

BuffySquirrel said...

I noticed this with The Jane Austen Book Club--large font, lots of white space, huge margins--but as I'd bought the book cheap in the supermarket I didn't feel cheated financially. What I did feel cheated by was the thin writing. I was really hoping for something clever like the tv series The Book Group, where each volume of Austen's the club read would somehow impact on or be reflected in their lives. Was I disappointed...

Christina said...

Font size matters. Too large or too small will offput my desire to read the book. I actually received a huge novel in large print and I refuse to read it. It makes me feel childish. Likewise, if the font is too small, it hurts my eyes to squint. Having said that, I've never noticed a novel that was in a print size too small for comfort.

I wish there was a wider variety of type in use today though. I still see Times New Roman far too often.

Toni Lea Andrews said...

Fonts only bother me when they are so small I have to go get a pair of reading glasses to see them!

I actually wonder about very large or very small fonts. I sold one book that was 113K word to a line that usually limited word count to 100K. They gave the reason for the limit as a cost issue--if they sold such a long book, they would have to price it out of their target demographic's normal spending range. I didn't understand why they couldn't just use a smaller font. Ultimately, after final edits, I got it down to about 106K, and they are pubishing it at that length.

Anonymous said...

I don't like a book with a tiny font size, something we occasionally see with lengthy paperbacks. I simply won't buy it because of the eye strain. As for a larger font, great. Anything to preserve my vision. Tess Gerritsen blogged about this very issue recently.

And Jane Austen Book Club, it has a word count of just under 70,000, standard for debut novels. Don't you love the text stats option at Amazon?

BuffySquirrel said...

I remember seeing it at 65k in the Text Stats, after I wasted £3 buying it and maybe an hour or two of my life reading it. I was a mug to be led astray by just two words in the title, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I've ever noticed font size, but I recently re-read some Dick Francis hardback books from the 90's and those books were printed noticeably better paper, much heavier and thicker than other books from the same year. Wierd.

BuffySquirrel said...

Heh, I spent a minute or so last night trying to separate two pages in an old Cordwainer Smith I got from my dad, only to realise it was one page--the thickness of the paper deceived me.