A Christmas gift, this is the first time, six months later, that I’m taking a look inside. It’s been in a queue on my bedside table. Always a queue.
But before I can even think about the inside I need to devour the outside. This is the hardback version complete with snazzy blue jacket. I always wonder how they can print “BESTSELLER” on the cover when it is a new release. Of course it will become a bestseller, but how can they do that? This is a big book, one that could easily be deployed as a weapon. One whack from this beast and you would be down. Then would come the paper cuts.
Anyway, I read the front, the spine, the blurb on the back, run a finger over the carefully debossed birds, feel the depth and the curve of indentation, consider the quality of the debossing tool and the alignment of tool to print. It looks fine, it feels fine, it’s a good job.
Reading the blurb again I think it could be bettered. No matter. I open up the jacket. There’s the same old spiel about the author, same old photo that really should be new with every book. That’s disappointing. I slip the jacket away and examine the spine. The foldback indents aren’t too solid. Probably the back end of a large run. I lift it to my eye and examine the slight curve and the free-space within that will allow these pages to turn like an unseen rolodex. The construction is solid, I put my nose to it, smell for glue, smell the newness, wonder how long until it smells like leaves and dust and relish the thought of breaking its back and giving it a twist until it cracks and falls open in my hands.
I read the copyright notice, look for errors, find none, read the impressive list of bestsellers. Only one or two old ones that I have not yet read. The next page holds the usual dedication; the next a quote from someone I have not heard of. I look closely at the imprint, can see the ink running into the fibres. I stare and the fibres become palm fronds, old and dry and wispy, they surround a small pond like broken laurels; the ink itself becomes a spill of oil, seeping into the finer threads where the rats or the mites lay in waiting. I take my eyes back and touch the `O` I’ve been staring at and then let my fingers slide down the virgin page. I smell it. Smells good, clean, like dry rain.
Now to start reading the story. I hope it’s a good one.