Thoughts On Book Formatting

I had a curious incident today that brought about an interesting question that I posed to Twitter, which you can vote on below if you have Twitter:

The past few weeks, I’ve been trying to read the famous non-fiction novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It’s always been touted as ‘the book that will get you into reading non-fiction’ and I finally got the kick to the ass to make time to read it from a coworker mentioning that exact statement. So, first thing I did after work was head to the local library and pick up the copy they had on the shelf…

And I’ve really been struggling to read it. It isn’t that the content isn’t interesting. It’s just that, as I read, I feel like I’m reading and reading and not getting anywhere. I find myself not wanting to pick the book up again and because of that, I’ve now had this book the two-week period and I’ve only read 32 pages of the copy I have. I’ve slogged through those pages and skipped reading on my lunch break, as I usually do, because I just don’t want to pick it up and read it. Naturally, this disappointed me, because I’ve really been looking forward to this book and I know it’s praised endlessly. However, something very interesting happened today.

I live in a town that does not have a Barnes and Noble (or indeed any book store that isn’t a Christian bookseller) so I don’t often go to Barnes and Noble, but today I went to Macon to see a movie that is limited-release and therefore not available at the local 8-screen AMC. Afterwards, my family was driving up to eat at Chili’s, another establishment my town does not yet have that we all enjoy. Chili’s in Macon is located in an outdoor mall/shopping center/whatever you call it that is a block down from Barnes and Noble, so while my movie got out before 5 and my family wasn’t going to be there until about 7, I decided to go to Barnes and Noble, and after browsing a while, I decided to pick up a copy of In Cold Blood and sit and use my time to try and get through a bit more of it in hopes I can get to something that will keep me sucked in.

Imagine my surprise when the copy I picked up somehow magically kept me interested the entire time without a single moment of that feeling of ‘slogging through’ the book! The format was a more modern font and a smaller amount of text per page, and I really didn’t think it made THAT much of a difference when the content was good. I sat there on the floor in the travel section (the least frequented section) and read twenty pages without any hesitation. I didn’t even pick up my phone when it dinged a text message from my mom. When I got home tonight, I tried picking up the copy I have and, to my consternation, I found that I once again am struggling. I know I prefer certain formats, but this is kind of ridiculous, I would have thought, until it actually happened to me.

I don’t have a photo of the copy I had at the store, and I can’t remember what font it was, but this one I’m reading is very ‘news-print’ in that it’s Times New Roman that is Justified to the edges, which I feel isn’t as common in books anymore? Perhaps it is and I just haven’t paid attention, but it’s just a very interesting phenomenon. I’m now curious as to whether other books I’ve tried to read in the past suffered from the format when I wouldn’t expect it to.

So, yeah, that’s today’s interesting experience. How about you guys? Have you ever noticed this? I asked the question above regarding whether format matters much to you, so feel free to vote there and comment here with your opinions or experiences!

 

Author: J. Chelsea Williford

Student at Middle Georgia State University, writer, pop culture lover.

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