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Book Designs Booksellers Hate!

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One thing that professionally shelving books for years will do is give you very specific likes and dislikes when it comes to book design. You discover exactly which covers appeal to you the most, and which designs you wish would be retired for all time. Here are a few book designs that booksellers (and librarians) hate–usually because they’re impossible to keep looking good.

What a beautiful cover! For now…

1. Die-cut covers. This is probably something that most readers don’t think about, but covers or dust jackets with cut-outs are a shelver’s nightmare. Even in new bookstores, it’s just a matter of time before the corner of one book catches the edge of the die-cut and rips it. In the case of Colorless Tsukuru Tazakiboxes would often come already damaged just from sliding against other copies slightly in transit. As pretty as they can be, die-cut covers just aren’t practical.

Trying to shelve The Potato Cookbook still haunts me.

2. Non-rectangular books. Books shaped like other things. Look, I get it: you wrote a cookbook about potatoes. It seems clever to make it potato-shaped! It will sure stand out! Well, it will stand out in the sense that it will stand out from the shelves by falling onto the ground. How am I supposed to shelve an oval? Or that kids’ book about the pyramids that’s shaped like a giant triangle!  OH! Or worse: that book about skyscrapers shaped like a skyscraper! That’s too tall for any shelf!

Rest in peace, hardcover. Too tall to last.

3. Weirdly-sized books. Okay, so at least they’re rectangular, but we have standard book sizes for a reason. That reason is so that bookshelves can be at a standard size. If you insist on making your book an inch taller than the standard size, it doesn’t fit on the shelf! (Looking at you, “comfort format” mass markets/pocket books.) Books like No One Belongs Here More Than You get their dustjacket and edges mangled from being forced on the shelf by customers too many times. Why would you do this to an innocent book, publishers?

WHYYYY

4. Books covered in fur. Or astroturf. We once got The Sports Book in used without the tag without the strip of paper that has the title on it. It was just a book covered in astroturf. Who’s going to buy that?? (It did sell, eventually. Because a customer wanted to buy the copy with the strip of paper and we convinced them to take the once without for half the price.) And maybe this is just a personal pet peeve, but I find shelving books covered with fake fur shudder-inducing. (Yes, they exist. See: The Wild Things.)

Of course we’re all familiar with Audrey Grant, the go-to Bridge book author, probably the most well-known of the format.

5. Spiral bound books. Nothing looks worse on a shelf than an anonymous spiral bound spine. For things like cookbooks and bridge books, it makes sense once you get them home, but like most of the things on this list, it just doesn’t make sense in a bookstore or library shelf setting.

That wand is going to be detached and lost in the shelves, I know it!

6. Books with toys attached. I don’t mind books that come in a box with toys, but books with things like speakers jutting out from the cover–or a wand attached with a thin elastic band–are impossible to shelve neatly. They end up making the shelf all lean to one side, if they can even fit on the shelf at all. Maybe those books are meant to be categorized more as toys than books, because they definitely aren’t built for shelves. (Oh, and a used bookstore problem: those Lego books with a minifigure in it, but used ones always come without the mini, so half the book is just cardboard filler.)

All of Malcolm Gladwell’s hardcovers endlessly attract smudges and dirt.

7. Covers that are impossible to keep clean. There’s a certain kind of rubbery cover that is a nice enough texture, except that it shows every fingerprint of every person who’s ever touched it. Any matte white cover ends up smudged and dirty-looking–often just from being shipped to the store, before they’ve even hit the shelves!

So many names. So many alphabetization options.

8. Books published under multiple authors and titles. Where are you supposed to shelve The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith aka Carol by Claire Morgan so that they’re together? Or if the new edition of a book gets renamed after the movie title, how is that alphabetized? It’s anarchy! (And don’t get me started on authors that republish their books with different names–I’m looking at you, Nora Roberts. I’m pretty sure you’re purposely trying to get people to accidentally buy the same book twice.)

The bottom book was “Billy the Condominium Cat” before sticker placement.

9. And finally, books with the title or author placed where library stickers usually go. This is one I don’t have to worry about in the bookstore, but we do sometimes have trouble putting sale stickers on books that fill the entire cover with the author and title text, meaning any sticker will obscure the information.

This has four different dust jackets layered together, just waiting to be torn when shelved.

Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of bookseller and librarian woes when shelving. I had to narrow it down.

Do you have any of your own book design annoyances? I stuck to just practical concerns here (to avoid getting starting on a movie covers rant), but let me know if I missed any of your book design pet peeves!

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jasonh09
1 day ago
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I hate most of them as just a browser.
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Burger King’s owner buys Popeyes for $1.8B

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. on Tuesday said it has agreed to buy Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. for $79 per share, or $1.8 billion. 

The deal gives the Oakville, Ontario-based RBI a third brand to go along with Burger King and Tim Hortons. It also gives the company a brand with significant growth potential in its home market.

RBI also promises to pick up the pace of growth at Popeyes, both in its home market and in international markets. Popeyes has more than 2,600 locations, most in the U.S. That move would fit with RBI’s overall strategy, which has revolved primarily around aggressive unit growth of its two brands. 

“Popeyes is a powerful brand with a rich Louisiana heritage that resonates with guests around the world,” Restaurant Brands CEO Daniel Schwartz said in a statement.

“With this transaction, RBI is adding a brand that has a distinctive position within a compelling segment and strong U.S. and international prospects for growth.”

RBI gets a brand that under CEO Cheryl Bachelder has become one of the strongest performing quick-service chains on Wall Street.

“I am proud of the superior results the Popeyes team has delivered in recent years,” Bachelder said in a statement. “RBI has observed our success and seen the opportunity for exceptional future unit growth in the U.S. and around the world. The result is a transaction that delivers immediate and certain value to the Popeyes shareholders."

The price for Popeyes is a 27-percent premium based on the chicken chain’s 30-day trading average as of Feb. 10 — the last trading day before reports suggested that RBI was in the market for Popeyes. RBI is financing the deal with cash on hand and financing from J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo. 

Recent reports have suggested that Restaurant Brands was looking at the chicken chain, while others said the company had backed off. Yet Bloomberg reported on Monday that talks had begun again and that there was enough momentum for a deal.

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze



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Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs

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2 days ago
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‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ Teaser: HBO Sends Oprah Winfrey Digging for Answers

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Rose Byrne and Oprah Winfrey in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Even if you’ve never heard of Henrietta Lacks, there’s a good chance she’s impacted your life in some way. In 1951, while Lacks was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, her cells were harvested without her knowledge or consent and used to create HeLa cell line. While Lacks herself passed away that same year, her cells have lived on, aiding in many medical breakthroughs including the polio vaccine.

While the scientific community has been aware of Lacks’ unwitting contribution for decades, her story became much more widely known to the general public in 2010 thanks to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a nonfiction tome by Rebecca Skloot. Now it’s going the way of many other bestselling books, and becoming a movie. Oprah Winfrey leads HBO’s feature film as Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, and Rose Byrne as Skloot. Hamilton‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry plays Henrietta. Watch the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks trailer below.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Teaser Trailer

It’s not the best trailer. It’s tough to tell exactly what’s going on unless you’re already familiar with the source material. Still, it looks like another powerful performance from Winfrey, and the Lacks family’s story seems like one worth telling — both because it looks fascinating and because it raises some very complicated but necessary questions about race, ethics, and consent in medicine.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks premieres on HBO Saturday, April 22 at 8 PM. George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues) directed.

Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne star in this adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed, bestselling nonfiction book of the same name. The film tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used without her consent to create the first immortal human cell line. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (Winfrey), the film chronicles her search, along with journalist Rebecca Skloot (Byrne), to learn about the mother she never knew and understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.

The post ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ Teaser: HBO Sends Oprah Winfrey Digging for Answers appeared first on /Film.

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jasonh09
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Decision Paralysis

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Good point--making no decision is itself a decision. So that's a THIRD option I have to research!
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jasonh09
2 days ago
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3 public comments
mrobold
12 hours ago
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OMG this is me.
Orange County, California
Covarr
2 days ago
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Just out of frame is a bike. It's not locked to anything, so it'd be the easiest to steal, but it might not be fast enough to get to the bomb in time, and it can't carry any passengers. But maybe the time saved in stealing it and the guarantee it won't need to stop for gas will make it the better choice?
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
3 days ago
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Good point--making no decision is itself a decision. So that's a THIRD option I have to research!

Meeting Boy, It’s not the job that sucks, it’s the people

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jasonh09
5 days ago
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