Note to publishers…and authors

It would be very helpful if in the case of novels ( and perhaps some other types of book) you provided a dramatis persomae.

Also perhaps in the index a synopsis of each chapter.

Older publications often provided these and they are very helpful to those of us who are doing other things and returning occasionally to the book.

And one more thing. Travel Books !!  How about some decent maps ? Rather than the pathetic line drawings normally provided.

Actually travel books aren’t the only culprits in the map department. Field Marshall Slim’s book ‘Defeat into Victory’ suffers badly from not having comprehensive maps particularly now that many of the places named have been changed after Burmese independence.

Author: jazz606

An Old Dog

12 thoughts on “Note to publishers…and authors”

  1. How strange, I have been thinking exactly the same! I have been reading a book about the Donner party written by one of the survivor’s descendants.

    (For those not familiar, they were a party of early pioneers to California who were inveigled to take a new and vastly unsuitable route through the Sierra Nevada mountains, who got lost, wasted time and were caught in the winter snow at elevation, camped for the winter and mostly starved to death and resorted to group cannibalism to survive. The real horror was that when their children died they swapped them with other families so they did not have to eat their own children. They also made jerky out of humans-oops! As you can imagine this went down like a lead balloon when it all came out on their arrival in California.Possibly the ultimate archetypal folk drama of pioneering history of the West.)

    It only happened because they got lost and wasted time, This is laboriously detailed in the book, but NO accompanying maps to show how many time they zigzagged past obstacles, such as impassable canyons etc. Incredibly irritating keeping on having to hit the computer to see where the hell they were!! For the sakes of a few pennies they could have included a few line maps and increased the readability of the book ‘n’ fold.

    I hear you about the changing of names. Fortunately I have my Uncle George’s old school atlas, c. 1920 which is basically pre war with some inclusionary maps of the settlements of the treaty of Versailles, world wide, fascinating. I have my own selection from the 60 and a few years back I got so pissed off not knowing where half these bloody places purported to be I splashed out a vast sum of money and bought myself a new updated Times world atlas c.2000. The really interesting exercise is to compare the oldest and newest! Countries appear as if by magic! One of the things I hate about computers, the screen is so small that by the time you enlarge a small area on the map you lose context of relationship to elsewhere, not so in a large atlas. Also flipping screens is no comparison for being able to open two books side by side.

  2. PS, ironically where these people suffered and died so horribly is now a resort with ski slopes and golf courses. There is a small state park in memory and a monument of course. Frankly I wouldn’t fancy staying there knowing what happened, yukk.

  3. Gruesome stuff. Still we shouldn’t judge them, the will to live is primal.

    Re dramatis personae and expanded indexes. I shan’t hold my breath.

    Isn’t Araminta something in publishing ? Maybe she can expand on this.

  4. Jazz: the standards of publishing have collapsed. I much prefer looking through old books. In general they are higher-quality. Recently, I read a book on Thai history and found the maps lacking. They didn’t even show most of the places references! Makes one wonder why they even bothered including them.

    CO: I am very familiar with the area. In fact, I am about 45 minutes from the Donner Trail at the moment. It’s a very strange area. Pretty, but a place I avoid travelling through and rush through as quickly as possible when it can’t be avoided. Even in the summer time it is painfully austere and lonely. There is hardly any vegetation. A sense of desolation truly pervades it.

  5. Jazz: the standards of publishing have collapsed. I much prefer looking through old books. In general they are higher-quality.

    I agree, the only thing they appear to be interested in is a flashy cover and sales hype. The basic quality is poor. Cheap paper, print running close to the spine etc etc. The markup must be huge.
    Maybe publishers could learn from magazines which are generally well presented.
    Actually I think I have mistakenly referred to the index when Really mean the contents (table). The index being at the back.

  6. Christopher, interestingly desolation often emanates from places where there have been bad deaths. Not everyone can feel it and some chose to ignore, or wrongly interpret the sensations.

    a zillion years ago when we were moving from Memphis to Atlanta on a corporate move, I flew over and a realtor picked me up for a tour of a selection of houses. At one place, well set back from the road the feelings hit me like a brick round the head. I told the realtor to go and tell them I had chosen not to view, he tried to dissuade me. I refused point blank to get out the car. He went and told them, came back, got in the car and said.
    “How did you know”
    “I felt it”
    That realtor stepped round me very carefully the rest of the day, giving me very odd looks.
    Evidently the owner had committed suicide in a very unfortunate manner, very messy evidently, the widow was selling and moving on, but not to me!
    The ordinary dead can be unruly enough in property but the bad deaths can be serious bad news to some of us. One of the reasons I like the NW, Here it wasn’t homesteaded until the 1920s so not many properties carry too much baggage. Had more than my fair share in the UK!

  7. Jazz: it seems, at the moment at least, that publishers are either going for the disgustingly cheap OR the outrageously expensive. There are some beautifully-designed-and-printed works out there, but the costs are also very, very high.

    CO: in that part of California the sense of desolation from the gruesome deaths is an addition to the fact that there is very little vegetation. The average height of that area is over 7,000 feet above sea level and some peaks are over 9,000 feet. There is precious little vegetation. The few trees that manage to grow are massive. Mostly, however, there is only hard granite.

  8. Also, an interesting point about picking these things up. I tend to be very sensitive as well. Generally, this is why I prefer Victorian houses with happy histories!

  9. Christopher, if you are fairly near L Tahoe you can’t be far from Lassen Volcanic Park. One of my favourite places in the uSA also one of the loneliest and most under-rated parks in my opinion. Brilliant geology full of fire and brimstone! Probably most Yanks don’t go, bit too near the gates of hell for most of them!!!
    I just love the multi sized bubbling mud pools emitting sulphurous clouds and all to oneself.
    I refuse to go anywhere near Yellowstone, bleachers to view, ‘kiss me quick hats and green ice creams’ territory!
    (Ethnic reference to the vulgarity of Blackpool, UK)

  10. CO: technically I am just east of the Sacramento Metropolitan Region, roughly halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, somewhat nearer Sacramento. The far north of California is generally under-rated, especially interior regions in Mendocino County such as Anderson Valley. People go to the Pacific Northwest and miss that region. Let them, me thinks. It means that there are fewer people around me.

    You’ve been to Blackpool? I have fortunately not had to endure that and am committed to not going there.

  11. Well I have never been there voluntarily but used to go there regularly to build exhibition stands, ditto
    Glasgow and Manchester. Bit of a bugger because it would take me three days to build them with a crew and then I would have 3-5 days doing nothing during the exhibition then back to break down. Not worth going home so used to go for a short break to the Lake District. Generally needed it by then, building a timber frame house in three days even with a dozen chippies is somewhat fraught! But very profitable!

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