The Patrick White Readers' Group has bounced into 2007 with the news that we are to read at least the start of The Solid Mandala in time for ABC TV's First Tuesday Book Club discussion of it on March 6. Hooray!
I have a solid shelf of my bookcase full of Patrick White books, and I could have sworn that I owned TSM. It wasn't there, however, so maybe it's been 'borrowed' by Colonel Duck.* Best Beloved was in the vicinity of bookshops yesterday, and he obligingly nipped in and bought me a brand new copy for only $12.95, published by Vintage/Random House. We were both quite impressed by the affordability of the re-release.
BUT! Damn, there's always a 'but', isn't there? When I opened the pages, my heart sank. Go on, have a look for yourself. Can you see why my heart sank?
It's quite obviously a photographic reprint a couple of steps removed from a hardback edition; the type is not as crisp as if it had been freshly set and reproduced from that fresh setting. But that's pretty normal for a backlist reprint.
It's the position on the page that offends me mightily. There's space up the top for a header, but there's no header. There's a page number at the bottom, quite close to the text, which is fine, as long as it was given a bit of space underneath to balance it out. THE TEXTBLOCK IS SLIPPING OFF THE PAGE!
Sheer ignorance or utter neglect, is what I call this reprint. If they'd just hoiked it UP the page a bit (not so hard to do), it would sit comfortably in the space. But instead I'm going to read it with a sense that if it came out in the sun with me, all the words would run down off the paper and all over my hand. And that's going to be a bit distracting.
Boo sucks, Random House. Your design department needs to care a little bit more, or hire someone who knows about the (elementary) dynamics of white space.
There. I feel better now. I can finally start reading.
*Old family joke. Heh.