Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Novel

Big debate afoot recently--I know that I've even had comments here--about exactly how heinous the words "A Novel" are on the cover of...erm...novels.

Here's the Mediabistro article. I'm not really riled up about it, frankly--I think having "A Novel" on the cover is kind of a nice art convention (a vehicle for more copy as well as for book positioning) but just to be a devilish twerp, the answer to their question ("Does this mean there are millions of people buying books and never opening them?! Sheesh!") I have to just say, Yes, Mediabistro, yes it does, and the publishing industry counts on those people. If only people who read books bought books we'd all be out of jobs. Sorry.

6 comments:

angelle said...

hee hee.. i saw this article today. i don't get the big hullaboo. i think sometimes the words "a novel" just look nice on the cover, so small and tiny under the title.

one day i'm going to write a book... and under its amazing title, it will say "not quite a novel", and i wonder if it will make any difference.

Lisa said...

I kind of like it. Let's me know I'm buying fiction, as opposed to a memoir, or -- well, I suppose labels don't guarantee anything either :)

Kristin said...

And I dislike it. It sort of makes me think either the publisher or the writer thinks I am too dumb to know it's fiction. It also stinks of literary snobbery. Somehow tacking on 'a novel' elevates it above just plain old mainstream fiction.

Is there any explanation why this is done? Under what circumstances? I wish I knew why they put it on there in the first place....

David L. McAfee said...

I'm with kristin on this one. I dunno why, exactly, but to me putting "A Novel" on the cover of a book seems pretensious (sp?), and smacks of "holier than thou-ishness."

This may not be the case, but that's how it appears to li'l ol' me.

moonrat said...

for me, it's nice because it adds more potential copy for the cover. often fiction titles are single words and just a title and a name are awful spare.

there is a "pretentiousness" aspect to it, since "a novel" distinguishes a fiction book from "a mystery" or "a saga," but i'm not sure it's necessarily a bad distinction. people like to read genre fiction for very honorable reasons (yumm quick thrills) (i'm a semi-closet genre reader myself, in case you couldn't tell from my previous fantasy posts) and the "a novel" label tips them off that this is perhaps a little darker or heavier than what they are looking for at that moment.

anyway, my primary argument is that i like a certain amount of cover copy, and "a novel" does for a novel what a subtitle does for nonfiction.

Alice Kildaire said...

lol...this makes me think of my aunt, an avid reader of mainstream fiction, she's bought countless books because "they look pretty on her shelf"