Miss Complicated

The picture is taken from rizzoliusa.com

Buying books can be a complicated matter even if you already hold books you have desperately wanted to read. The story goes like this:

Last Sunday, I came to Kinokuniya bookstore to search a decent book without any particular choices in my mind. Once I stepped in the store, I was amazed to find Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club in the bookshelf tagged as Asian Literature. I have been longing for reading this book ever since I has shifted my focus to learn more about Eastern literature.

First of all, I looked at price of the book. It costs about Rp 150,000 (US$15). Quite expensive but perhaps proper for the best-selling novel. Then I opened the first page. I put it back to the shelf. Not wanting to read the second page. The first page bored me already. May be I should not judge the book from the first page only. But first page means a lot for me. I won’t continue reading the whole book if its first page is flat. Most dissapointing fact is that the book looks like containing Amy Tan’s typed fonts. So, it’s like the book only copies the original version that is probably typed by the Chinese-born writer. And they sell it that expensive (for me). Perhaps they think they want to maintain the originality of the work to readers. Unfortunately, I don’t think that way. The book,on the surface, turns out to be very unattractive. That applies for the cover. Yeah, so forget it. I cross the book from my must-read list. At least for now.

Then, I walked a bit to the fiction highlights and now I was surprised to see The Last Man In Tower, the latest book from Aravind Adiga, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. He’s not my favorite author but it feels awesome to follow authors’ writing career. I have read his previous two books and now I would like to make it complete by reading his last one.

But the book is much more unaffordable. It is sold at around Rp 200,000 (US$20). It actually a bit better than Amy Tan’s in a way that the book is not the copy version of the original. But I think the book is costly because of its cover who somehow looks ordinary. And how much they spend on those high qualified paper. What does not suit me, except the high price, is the font of the books which is smaller for my eyes. Plus, I can guess what kind of themes Adiga puts in the book so I am not really curious. So, off the list.

There were actually some interesting books at that time but I was dissapointed on how publishers packaged them. Some did as what happened to Amy Tan’s novels. Even they did not change those small fonts. The price remain high. Who would buy those kinds of books?  I once had a bad experience in relation to this kind of thing. I spent almost Rp 200,000 (US$20) to buy In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck. The book is like the copy version of Steinbeck’s type but the font is a bit larger than Amy Tan’s. It took more than one year for me to finish the book.

Apart from such heavy theme, the design and the font made me lazy to complete reading it immediately unlike his previous novels. I don’t want to repeat my mistake ever since. There are still some of his books that I have yet to read because they are not really worth the price.

I glanced at Amitav Ghosh’s novels but again did not purchase them because of those weird fonts and dark paper. I bought one from the same publisher and somehow those small factors distracted my reading. I’d love another company who published The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide. Unique font and brighter paper.

Paper is also an important factor. White paper is not good for our eyes but dark brown paper makes us lazy to read. So, its in between those color. Some publishers don’t pay regards on this thing somehow.

After an hour of walking around, looking at titles at literature section, then quick reading, I finally bought Mayor of Casterbridge, the second book by Thomas Hardy that I read so far. More affordable price, proper paper, and attractive font. Given a shock after reading the first 10 pages, I believe I made a great choice.


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