When did the author become more important…

…than the work?  I was hanging out at Borders, sipping on some coffee and perusing books I have no intention of buying (and even if I did want the book, I’d just buy it on Amazon) when I noticed a strange trend.

This isn’t a new trend, mind you, it’s just something that I started noticing after years and years of simply ignoring the covers of books (it’s true, by the way, that if only books could be as cool as their cover art is, there would significantly less illiteracy in the world.)  The author’s name is, usually, significantly bigger than the title of the book.  I’m not just talking a few points of type bigger.  I’m talking about HUGE author’s name, tiny little book title.  I might chalk it up to artistic license, but it’s freakin’ everywhere.  The title of the book may as well not matter.  It is all about the author.

I suppose it makes sense, from a marketing standpoint.  You’re not really trying to sell the title of the book, not really.  I think most publishers have come to terms with the fact that there are two major demographics of book-buyers: the ones that ignore the covers and look for ‘good authors’, and the ones that think the cover art looks cool and therefore buy what is probably a horribly written book.  The title itself?  Kind of irrelevant.  So you make the author’s name hugenormous on the cover for the former, and you pay artists to come up with cool-looking artwork for the latter.  And you slap a tiny title on it, just so it fits somewhere in the Dewey decimal system once the book is relegated to the dusty halls of a public library.

I’m going to write a book and publish it.  And it’s not going to have a title.  I want to see how long I can get away with that fact before someone notices.  In fact, I’m going to go one further – I’m going to write 4 books.  Novels, probably.  I’m not going to title them.  Maybe I’ll color-code them, maybe I won’t. 

Speaking of authors, on that same trip to the bookstore I discovered that authors are terrible readers of their own material.  Makes me think that they didn’t actually come up with it, they seem so haltingly unfamiliar with their own writing.  Hm.

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