I received The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna today. I read the essay that ended up being the seed of the book earlier this week, and the book itself is a delight to hold and page through.
Books like this are why ebooks will not put an end to printed books. Beautifully crafted with striking colors throughout and hand-drawn illustrations, Luna’s book is a gift-worthy gem of a souvenir, a souvenir of ideas that will have more value because of the style that conveys the substance.
Books like this offer an experience, not just information. The art is in more than just the words. The visual hooks connect more intensely than words alone could.
When I think back on some of my favorite reading experiences, the form of the book often is a vivid part of the memory. Even books that have no art other than the cover make a memory through their heft and their physical design. Recalling the thick paperback copy of Anna Karenina I read in 1991, I can still picture the cover image, and I remember the general feel and thickness of the book and even the position (left page, upper half about a quarter of the way through) of one of my favorite passages.
Picking up a Dr. Seuss book with my kids rockets my memories back to seeing those same whimsical drawings as a kid myself.
Form matters. And you can make your ideas stick better and longer with art that resonates with the senses. Certainly visual appeal is important, but even the feel of the paper or the weight of the cover of a book can make a difference. It’s why Apple works so hard designing the boxes their devices are sold in.
I enjoy using slides when I present for this reason. Uncluttered, memorable images can make ideas pop and stick and can set an emotional tone for the delivery of a narrative.
I still mostly read ebooks. They’re convenient. It’s amazing to have a whole library a touch away no matter where I am. But beautiful books like Luna’s and Seth Godin’s most recent are reminders that a book as a work of art and as a tangible vehicle for compelling ideas has a bright future.