Saturday, November 16, 2013

Guest Post: Bookish Pet Peeves

It's November, and therefore it's time for another guest post! This month's topic: bookish pet peeves! What are some physical things about books that irritate you? Is it a certain type of binding? Spine damage? Rough-cut pages? Whatever it is, why does it tick you off so much? Three of my good book friends agreed to join The Reading Hedgehog once again on sharing some of their bookish pet peeves!
Katherine's Bookish Pet Peeves

  1. Pocket Books - Also known as mass market paperback, I don't particularly like this type of book. While it is smaller than your average paperback or hardcover (therefore it's easier to carry around with you), the binding is such that it makes it very hard to actually get the dark book open enough so you can read it. Which leads me to my second pet peeve:
  2. Spine Breaking - Maybe it's my OCD kicking in, but I don't like the spine of my book to be broken. I like having my book in the best condition possible. Sometimes there is no way around this one, but I do my best to be extra careful.
  3. Cover Changes - This is probably my biggest pet peeve of all. I absolutely despise it when publishers make cover changes to a series before it is over. If they are going to change the covers, at least change them after all the books have been published in that particular series so we can have matching books. What's even worse is if the original covers were better looking than the "new and improved" ones.
  4. Misleading Covers - Covers are usually supposed to represent an event or something else that happens in the story. So when a cover has absolutely nothing to do with the book itself, it can be a bit misleading.
  5. Girl in the Dress - I love looking at pretty dresses as much as anyone, but this whole "girl wearing the pretty dress on the cover" is getting a bit old, in my personal opinion.
  6. Bodice-Ripper Covers - We all know what these covers look like: a hot half-naked woman who's oftentimes swooning/fainting in the arms of a shirtless man ('cause shirts are so cliche). This is probably just because I don't happen to like this genre. but seriously; I would never be caught in public reading such a thing.
  7. Repeating Cover Art - After a certain vampire novel came out, it seemed like everybody jumped on the bandwagon of having a single object on the cover with a black background. Even some reprints of classic novels got into it. Egad! I also don't appreciate it when the same stock photo is used for multiple covers all the time.

Kel's Bookish Pet Peeves

As far as book construction/design goes, I like to think I'm not picky. Then I start reading a book and find out I'm very picky. Books are supposed to open portals to different worlds; when something about the book impedes or distracts from that experience, it's like ripples across water. I lose clear sight of the story.

So, for your amusement and consideration, I present some of my bookish pet peeves:

  1. Too Tight Binding - Either it makes reading the ends/beginnings of lines difficult or I feel like I could break the book at any moment, or both.
  2. Extra Small Print - If I wanted to torment my eyes I would have turned on the computer. Doing this only drives people to glasses or e-readers; the increase/decrease size function comes in handy.
  3. Lack of White Space - See above small print explanation.
  4. Ugly/Inaccurate Reissues of Favorites - I don't mind having mismatched covers for books in a series. I tend to buy the edition with the cover I like best (or the cheapest). However, it irks me when a publisher reissues a beloved story with an ugly or inaccurate cover. I recently saw an article about a reissue of Anne of Green Gables featuring a blond model on the front.
  5. Ridged Pages - I love the look, but it makes flipping through pages a little difficult. Function over form.
  6. Writing in the Margins - I have only written in the margins of one book in my entire life. (Don Quixote, if you're curious.) I understand that some people love the process, but no. It clutters the white space and distracts me. I can't ignore it; I have to read the note, and then I wonder about the thought process behind it and start analyzing whether it has any bearing on the rest of the story . . . You get the idea. Words in margins bad.

Hazel's Bookish Pet Peeves

  1. First and foremost, when publishers publish the first few books in a series in hard copy and then only publish later books in ebook format. This is not okay. For one, I hate ebooks in general, and for two, the rest of the books are lonely and they will never have their brothers on the shelf with them. That makes me sad and angry. It's like splitting up a family. On a smaller scale, only publishing later books in paperback instead of hardback annoys me, too.
  2. For some reason, it drives me nuts when people shelve their series books last to first. Why? This might be more of an obsessive compulsive thing for me than anything, but it really bothers me.
  3. I hate it when a series of books is published in several different formats and each one seems to be a different size. I do mix my personal collection with paperbacks and hardbacks - it's kind of a sore point, but before I discovered Powell's City of Books, hardbacks were a luxury I couldn't afford - but when paperbacks in a series are different sizes, and the hardbacks are different sizes, that really bothers me. Or when they change the look or design of the covers. Then they don't look right together and they don't look like a series.
  4. What's really annoying is when I buy a book and they come out with a new edition that is so much more lovely and special than the one I have, but I'm too cheap to buy it. Sometimes I give in, and just give my other books to used bookstores or to friends. It still annoys me, though.
  5. When you find an old book at the library and love it, but can't find a copy to buy because it's way out of print. This is just evil. 

The Reading Hedgehog's Bookish Pet Peeves

I have more than any human being probably should have, but that's me - lots of pet peeves, especially when it comes to books. At the same time, though, I'm able to ignore my pet peeves remarkably well when I need to. But that's another topic; right now, we're talking about my bookish pet peeves!

  1. Cover Changes - Like Katherine, I can't stand it when a series is being published, and then someone gets it into their bright little heads to change the cover art. I like my covers to match; I'm a bit stickler for aesthetically pleasing bookshelves - books and all. And why does cover art need to change anyway? Especially when the original was perfectly fine?
  2. Paperbacks - Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I hate paperbacks. I honestly don't know what started this pet peeve; I didn't care about the binding when I was a kid or even a tween. But as soon as I started to seriously build my collection, I found an intense aversion for paperbacks. They're not nearly as pretty on bookshelves as hardcovers, they wear out too fast, and when you're shifting shelves and have to move a stack of books from one shelf to another (leaving this big gap), paperbacks will not stand on their own. They will fall over within 5 seconds, and it's just irritating.
  3. Single-Word Titles - For some books, a single word works. But single-word titles (like Venom or Ever or Reached) seem to be the fad, and I'm just a little tired of it. How complicated can the story be if it's entirety can be summed up in one word? Yes, they are easy to remember, but they're also so bland.
  4. Stickers - I don't care if it's an award the book has won, a little price tag, or whatever - I hate stickers on my books. Because the sticker is usually in the way of something else - like the author's name or the series title - and I then have to peel the sticker off. But stickers don't like to be peeled off, and they leave behind unsightly sticky residue. GooGone is beautiful stuff, people; it will work wonders on nasty sticky residue. But I still hate stickers.
  5. Uneven Printing - Every once in a while, I'll get a book that hasn't printed properly. Sometimes it's severe like an entire page of print that is off-kilter (i.e. not straight, but at an angle). And sometimes the print will be darker than the rest of it - too much ink, in other words. With really old classics, I don't mind this - it gives the book an old feeling. But new books? No.
  6. Letters in Any Color that Isn't Black - Prodigy did this, as did Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. I don't mind oddly-colored pages (usually), but I dislike it when the print is in, say, blue or brown or purple. What's wrong with plain old traditional black ink? Reading any other color for a long time eventually hurts my eyes, and I hate it when my eyes start hurting. If a title is in a different color, that's fine; just not the main text.
  7. Ex-Library Books - I do lot of rescuing of books. While I prefer my books to be in pristine condition, if I find a poor little orphan book that is a bit battered, but still readable, I'll pick it up. These books are the Oliver Twists of my collection, and I can't resist them; I feel so bad for them. So a lot of times I will buy ex-library books. Unfortunately, ex-library books come with a lot of problems that always set my teeth on edge: there will usually be a big library stamp on the top pages, and the dust jacket will be taped down. There is a way to attach the protective plastic to a dust jacket without actually taping it to the book's outside cover, and I want to send big thank-you bundles to the libraries who know the trick of it. But more often than not, the tape will be firmly attached to the book's cover, and when you peel that away, you peel away part of the cover, leaving a beautiful tape indention. Grrrrrrrr. Mine as well rebind the whole book!
  8. Spine Damage - Some spine damage is unavoidable, but excessive (i.e. where it's obvious the previous owner folded the entire book back or deliberately broke the spine) bothers me. How would the person feel if someone did that to their spine?
  9. Rough-Cut Pages - I have a love/hate relationship with this style. On the one hand, it looks really cool to have rough-sided pages, like with Lemony Snicket's books and The Sisters Grimm. But it also makes it harder to turn the pages.
  10. Dog Ears - Nothing makes me see red quicker. Is it really that hard to find something to use as a bookmark? Is it? Do you honestly have to turn down part of the page, putting a crease in it that will never be fixed again?
  11. Character Impersonators - These are people who are on the covers of books that are supposed to be one of the characters in the book. For some reason, this just irritates me. I want my imagination to decide what the characters look like; I don't want some random stranger being forever fixed in my mind.
  12. Trilogies - I like the two-volumed novel, and the four-volumed novel. I do not like three-volumed novel. It's such a fad, and most of the time, the story usually can't be stretched into three books, but the Author is going to try anyway - whether it's because they want to, or because their editor tells them to. Enough with the three-volumed novel, people!
  13. Extra copies - I don't like to have two copies of the same book, even if one copy is like a special edition and the other is a normal copy. I just don't like to have extras on my shelf.


  1. I think most of us are on the same page with a lot of things. I definitely agree on the broken spines. Definitely a con against paperbacks. That's why I usually only buy used paperbacks because then I don't feel bad about breaking the spine. Thanks for inviting me to guest post again, Mara!

    1. Thank you for doing the guest post! Look forward to doing the one in December! :)

  2. YES!! HATE character impersonators. They always leer, or stare creepily or stupidly, and usually look nothing like the character they portray. However, no matter how dissimilar they are to the actual character, I can never get their obnoxious face out of my head when reading! An otherwise good character can be totally ruined by a BAD character impersonator.

  3. "Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily." ;)

    It's interesting how many cover art pet peeves arose. I stayed away from them because my taste in covers varies so much; I either like it or don't, often for reasons I can't explain.

    I agree with Hazel. Why must you put out a prettier cover/edition right after I bought one? Bluh.

    As for the ex-library books/paperbacks, can't say I'm quite as picky. Cheapskate trumps collector. (If I'm going to collect, I have to make it affordable.) And I actually like getting ex-library books; I get a lot of them from BWB. It's an easier way for me to afford hardcovers, they're usually in decent shape, and I leave the plastic on most of them to keep it extra protected from me and any friends I may lend it to. Go figure. :)

    1. *laughs* Ah, in the days when the three-volumed novel was much more tolerable. ;)

      I'm usually a fan of a lot of different covers, too, but there is one consistent pet peeve with them, and that's staring character impersonators.

      Ditto! I'm currently in the process of buying the HARRY POTTER books in hardcover, and since they've redone the cover art, it's been a race to get all of the old copies before they're extinct.

      Powell's City of Books makes one less tolerant of paperbacks, because you can find a ton of hardcovers there in really good condition for as little as $1.

  4. Drat it. And still no trip to the West Coast planned for the near future. Can I give you a shopping list, mail you a check and have you hit Powell's for me?

    Or, I know, we could Skype! Just keep your phone even as you walk through the store and I'll look things up from the computer as we go. XD

    1. The only problem with a check: you would definitely have to put a limit on how big of a figure to write, but one can never determine what limit to put until you're actually at Powell's. It's soooooooooooo easy to spend tons of money there. :)

      Not a bad idea, actually. Or you could always use their website.

    2. True, their website isn't bad, and their shipping prices are pretty good. But who on the website will protect me from horrors like dog eared pages and non-black lettering and uneven printing? ;)

    3. Too true, though Powell's is generally very good about describing the condition of their books. Not always, but most of the time. They also won't take just any used book; only good condish ones, so that helps. And their return policy is very nice. But it is a dilemma. I guess, Kel, we just will have to find a way to Skype next time I go, or you'll have to resign yourself to having to come out someday. ;)


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