jarold imesSize Does Matter

by Jarold Imes
March 2009


There was a time when no one dared published their book in Times New Roman, the default font type on any Microsoft based word processing program. For one, publishing books in Times New Roman said you were cheap and suggested that the book probably hadn't been edited. Publishers used to take just as much pride on how the inside of there books looked just as they did the outside. Publishing in exotic but readable fonts added a special appeal to the book. It also spoke volumes of the amount of time and effort a publisher put into each book. At one point in time, you could identify the mainstream publisher by which font family or variation of font family they published in.

Now when we open a book, Times New Roman has become the norm as more and more people want books that are easily legible. Arial and other sans serif fonts have become less taboo as well and naturally, it is the authors and publishers of African American fiction titles that are breaking the stereotype and creating new trends.

So what does the font type have to do with street lit? Very simply: A few years ago, many of street literature's biggest fans began complaining about the price of books and lack of page numbers. Who wants to pay $15 for a book that is only 150 pages? I struggle with the idea of paying $15 for a 300 page book and I look for and find every coupon I can use for any book I purchase. However, we cannot force the authors to be more creative than what they are. If the story is good and it requires only 150 pages, then 150 pages it is.

So the solution has become two fold—books that are on the thin side need to be priced at $11 to $13 because adult stories published in the popular trade paperback format need to costs more than the teen books published in the same format and the font type and size in many books have gotten larger over the years. Many readers complained that the font in older books made reading them unbearable and since readers are used to Times New Roman, it became ideal to appeal to the audiences mind. In fact, many books are printed in size 11 or 12 now because any book printed in size 12.5 or larger can be considered a large print book, which costs the reader more.

I miss the days when I'd open a book and read a book set in Sabon or Garamond (the font my books are published in… still) or find a publisher who dared to publish their book in Courier. I realize that I may be one of the last font heads left, but I believe that readers and publishers could find a greater compromise where the look inside the book and the size of the font, as well as the page count, matters.


Jarold Imes is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and author of Hold on Be Strong; he is the creator of online soap opera: Hold on Be Strong (www.holdonbestrong.com), send emails to:jaroldimes@yahoo.com.


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Ving :
Posted 1890 days ago
That's a genuinely impressive anwesr.
Shon :
Posted 2888 days ago
Good piece - interesting. Can't help but add that some of those 150 page books could be bigger; I would bet some of the writers didn't stretch the literary muscles necessary to write a bigger book. And this is coming from someone who actually APPRECIATES a smaller book and believes a 350 paged novel does not mean it's good, :-)
Jarold Imes :
Posted 2930 days ago
Thanks for the response to the article.
This problem is not just for urban themed books, it is becoming a problem everywhere. I'm just striving to challenge everyone to think outside of the box and not to always settle for the default and status quo.
Salamander C. :
Posted 2940 days ago
You know I'm glad Imes took the time to reflect on this underestimated topic. I've read some of urban fiction literature by the top authors and I must say that the inside of them looked as if they were books for children. The font size (type set) was larger than it needed to be. It does make it hard to read and sometimes even makes you want to put the book back down.
Ian :
Posted 2943 days ago
Definitely a very insightful article
Crave Books :
Posted 2944 days ago
This industry really needed this article. The inside of these books are some of the worst I've ever seen in my reading life! (Tips hat to J. Imes)
 



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