I was on Facebook earlier and several posts got me thinking, wondering really, and I decided I didn't want to be alone in my musings. Maybe you all will be able to offer enlightenment. If not, I'll happily accept coffee and chocolate in place of enlightenment. :P
The first was a comment that an author casually threw out in a FB group. She stated, as if it were obvious to anyone with half a brain, that putting the table of contents at the back of ebooks is aesthetically pleasing. I must have half a brain or less because I don't get that. At all. First of all, I utterly fail to see what is aesthetically pleasing about putting it in the back. I just don't see it.
Secondly, I've complained before the absurdity of putting it in the back. What friggin use is the table of contents after I've finished the book? Yes, using my Kindle's "go to" function, I can go to the end of the back to find it. But, depending on how the publisher or author has formatted the book, "end" may include acknowledgements, an excerpt, and other flotsam. It's rare to have "table of contents" as an option for the "go to" function, which is pretty damn annoying no matter where it's placed.
So, any thoughts on why placing the table of contents at the back of the book, when you're DONE READING THE BOOK AND NO LONGER NEED IT is aesthetically pleasing for some people? Are you one of those people? What do you find pleasing about it? And is there any practical reason for putting the table at the back? Or is it just for the dubious (to me) aesthetic quality?
My other musing has to do with book covers. A blogger posted that she was reading a hardcover that didn't have a dust jacket but instead the cover is printed on the cover, just like paperbacks. That got me thinking; why are hardcovers traditionally sold with dust covers? Why do paperbacks have the artwork printed directly on the cover? Actually, that may have to do with the nature of paperbacks, or pocket books as they're sometimes called. They were originally intended to be a cheaper and more portable, to fit into pockets, alternative to hardcovers. A dust jacket presumably adds expense and doesn't fare well in pockets or purses. But that still raises the question of dust jackets.
Now some hardcovers, reprints of classics or special editions of books or text books, will have some sort of design or artwork, printed on the cover and no dust jacket. But why not regular books? genre books? Is it cheaper to print individual dust jackets than to print directly on the cover? Is it perceived by the publishers to be an added value for the cost of the book? If I have to choose between a plain cover and a dust jacket, I'll choose the dust jacket but ideally I'd rather have the artwork printed directly on the cover. I can't lose it, I can't rip it, the cats won't chew on it (I'm looking at you Goof, Mister Paper Fetish!), just a better arrangement all around.
So, what do you think? Why do we have dust covers? Do you like them? Hate them? Talk to me! Or feed me chocolate. Either or both works for me. :D