Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Babysitters Club, part one.

Don't worry, this post isn't about the Babysitter's Club, that would just be terrible (I never actually read those books anyway...). I was babysitting for some friends on Saturday night, which was a very uneventful time - their daughters are stunning sleepers! As they are both literary people, they have a library I would be proud to call my own. And in the spirit of the design scrapbook, I waded through them and took photos of a few that caught my eye. Here's my favourite one.
Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts, Canongate, 2007.
Click on the images for a better view. 
Apparently the title is a play on 'Rorschach Tests', the inkblot tests. I didn't pick up on it, but Wikipedia told me, so it must be true. The novel takes place in our world with certain aspects that don't exist here, but do in their world, and are hidden by dedicated organisations. If that makes sense... It actually sounds like a really good book. However, I won't lie, the only reason I picked this book of the shelf was because it has review quotes on the spine - something I've never seen before. The main body text on the cover is in a typewriter-like typeface, with the title in a nice large typeface and the all caps helps it stand out. The blue, I feel, ties it back to the shark image (blue = ocean in my mind...) as well as standing out very well against the pale background. The blue is a continuing theme, as you'll see in a few pictures below. 
The quotes down the spine are rather interesting - the blue highlighting is around '...The Matrix, Jaws and The Da Vinci Code', which is what this book is apparently the bastard child of. Very intrigued, plus it made me read that section first and then move back up and read the rest of the quotes. Plus, like I've said, I've never seen this before. There are a whole heap more on the inside cover (see next picture), so maybe they're not necessary. This said, it's the thing that caught my eye and made me pick up the book, so it must work.
The image of the shark fin going through both the text on the front and the Canongate logo is great. If you stare at it for long enough it looks like it's actually moving. Also the blots of blood give the book an ominous, 'there's actually going to be a shark' kind of feel. Also, the blurb on the back is simply cut off and doesn't finish anywhere else. Weird, but I feel this may reflect the mysterious nature of the book - the main character wakes up and has no idea who he is or where he is. Intriguing.

First page. Apologies for my hand.
As you can see, the designer loves the blue. Which is lucky, 'cause it definitely catches the eye. Also, the reviews given here are just the long versions of the ones on the spine, which kind of takes away from the special-ness of the spine reviews. Sigh.  I'm not 100% happy with the white on blue for the reviews though. Although this blue is a repeat feature, the typeface isn't quite heavy enough for me to make me want to read it. Making it slightly heavier, I think, would make it more legible. Any who, the text on the first page is actually a copy of the text on the front cover, and unlike the review quotes, I really enjoy this repetition. Obviously you can't read the text fully on the cover as it's wrecked by the 'ripple' of the water the 'shark' is 'swimming' through, and it's nice to repeat it. I get frustrated if something I want to read or watch isn't repeated.
Front and back inside covers. Again, hand apologies.
Here's the front and back inside covers. I really love this, the back is just an upside down repeat of the front. They both start waaaay too high up, and finish with plenty of room at the bottom, or in the back's case, heaps at the top, not so much at the bottom. As it's a repeat, what I've said above about the front applies to the back too.

Now to the text itself. I like what's done, check out the pictures below.

Apologies for fingers and smallness - click for bigger version.
You'll know why they're so small soon...
Here are two section markers and the chapters that begin directly after them. Not sure if it's a coincidence, but the two quotes on these section markers are by Jorge Luis Borges and Haruki Murakami. Both of these authors are actually noted in two separate reviews on the inside covers, go on, look up! Maybe the review quotes were picked deliberately for this edition because of that? It seems awfully coincidental... Good work marketing team!
Anyway, to the design! The typeface used is a serif, for section headings, quotes and their authors, chapter headings and body text. I'm pretty happy with all of that. As a novel, a serif is generally considered to be the best choice. As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is due to it's easy-to-read nature. One thing I enjoy about the headings throughout is that there's no bolded text used - it's simply larger for the section numbers and chapter titles. As well as this, they have used italics in a nice and effective way for quotes and the chapter titles. This makes them stand out without throwing them in your face. Also, I'm a big fan of first line indents rather than full breaks between paragraphs, which is what is used in this book.

Now, you're going to see my favourite part of this book, and why the previous photos were so small. Apologies for the mass amount of pictures coming up, but here we go. Might be best to click on the first one and scroll through to the right before checking out what I have to say below.

So as you can tell by the nine photos I've put up that I think this is awesome. I've never seen this done before, and I haven't read the book but from the title I'm sure it's safe for us to assume that the shark (or something similar) is very key to the story. In the second to last picture, so can see the text is repeated and fades out, giving the impression of the narrator drowning (little depressing, I know). This sentence runs on to the next page and the story continues like it wasn't interrupted for 51 (!) pages. As you can tell, I just skimmed through the pages so you readers weren't bogged down with even more photos! This part of the book definitely leaves a lasting impression on me, and I think I might just ask to borrow it I'm time I'm over there.

This is it for this wonderful looking book, more books to come soon.

1 comment:

  1. It is a great book, which you are very welcome to borrow. And when you finish with that, perhaps try Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves. The latter engendered a wave of books that saw authors playing with layout as narrative. Raw Shark and House of Leaves worked, I think. Most of the rest were horribly self conscious acts of pretention.