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[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
Recently I read Heart and Science by Wilkie Collins. It is not, to put it bluntly, a good book. Despite the assertion of the back cover that Collins considered this as good as The Woman in White, I fear that the only reasonable conclusion is that he must have been in a high fever at the time. Or negotiating book rights. Basically there are a lot of brain ailments and boring people who seem to succumb to those ailments without much of a reason, plus some guy who is in Canada recovering from nervous exhaustion by taking canoe trips. And a vivisection subplot that doesn't really go anywhere except exist so our nervously exhausted hero can save the day via a discovered secret for curing brain ailments. And while I appreciate that the editor has been handed lemons on the Collins front, I still think that he could have done a better job. Here's a sample of his footnotes: the text says 'as the proverb goes, it was the hair that broke the camel's back.' His footnote, carefully lying there at the bottom of the page like something that has something to say, informs the reader that 'this is a proverbial statement.' AND NOTHING ELSE. Listen mate, the text already said that. The point of a footnote is to explain something that you otherwise might not get; if there's nothing to add THEN DON'T ADD A FOOTNOTE. Unless, of course, you've read a long academic book in German that you want to mention so people know you've read it. That's entirely different.

Plus, you know if you're buying a minor Wilkie Collins novel in a not terribly appealing academic looking edition I suspect that you don't need to be told what an N.B. is. Just saying.

This is not a blog that I've ever read before but [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda linked to their
top 10 things for what publishers could do for readers to sell more books. Many of the suggestions just strike me as not things that matter to most readers. Do most people really care that much that all their books in a series are the same size? It might be annoying if you like all your books to line up, but if you're this attached to a series aren't you going to be buying them all anyway?

Another suggestion is: "Include a relationship chart in the beginning of every book. Most books published today are series books, all somehow related to one another. It would be very helpful if, at the front of the book, all the books in a series are identified in the way in which they are related to one another and what characters appear in which books." But why would you do this? People would only buy the books with the characters they liked surely, rather than buying it and hoping that this was the time that Lars von sexy Vampire-Werewolf with the Tight Blue Pants* finally got his woman.

* To distinguish him from Elferic, the cursed scion of Norwegian Viking-Faeries who always wears tight red pants.
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August 2011

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