Friday, August 31, 2007

The hardcover book has finally arrived

My book arrived today. An actual first edition, from Berryville Graphics, (read my earlier story about them) to Crown, to me. The same book you will see in bookstores, three weeks from now.

I would show you a picture but I’m here by myself, and anyway, there’s a realistic computer-synthesized picture on the right side of the blog.

Allow me to tell you some things about the hardcover edition of Look Me in the Eye that a picture would not reveal and a casual handler might not notice.

First of all, picking it up, you feel its solidity. The Advance Reading Edition seems thin and flimsy in comparison. And it is. That’s why libraries stock mostly hardcover books. They last longer.

The cover has a smooth feel, reminiscent of polished stainless steel. The feel of a restaurant kitchen countertop, right in your hand. It’s printed in matte ink, with the exception of the name, Look Me in the Eye, which is printed in glossy black. And there’s more . . . the title is actually embossed, so a blind reader could feel it with his thumbs and so positively identify my book. Looking at all the detail of the cover, it’s clear this book is a very high quality product.

Turning to the rear, readers will see the title, What People Are Saying. And below that, to no ones surprise, are four examples of What They Said. Two color of ink were used to express What They Said. At the very bottom, there’s a bar code tag, and a price.

Turning to the spine, and tilting the book to the light, you’ll see that the title and subtitle – but nothing else - has a glossy finish. You probably didn’t realize it, but the application of that shiny finish was a whole ‘nother step in the printing process. And book aficionados will note that the cover is printed in full color, too, proof that the publisher wanted only the best for Look Me in the Eye.

The marvels continue when you open the book. For example, on the inside flap, you’ll find a picture of me, sitting with a Bentley Turbo automobile engine, and a shelf with some assorted books behind me. Many people will search for the deeper meaning in that image, and I will not spoil things by revealing it here.

Readers of my blog who buy the book will be in for a special treat. Colors. That’s right, colors. Remove the jacket from my book, and set it apart from the book on a table near a computer monitor, and display my blog on the monitor. What will you see? Color coordination, that’s what!

Only the most special and unique of books match the colors of their author’s blogs. And for those doubters among you, the color match is like a fingerprint . . . unequivocal proof that I, the writer of this blog, am also the writer of Look Me in the Eye.

I am not, of course, the only person involved in the project. Other people have snuck their names in, and you’ll see them in your copy. For example, on the copyright page, you’ll find the name of the designer – Lauren Dong.

What is a designer, you ask? The designer is the person who figured out how the book would be laid out. Chapters starting halfway down the page. . . a classic Ardelovian typeface . . . The use of scrollwork and ornate letters at the beginning of every section . . . the use of small letters when describing signs, so MENS ROOM does not become unduly prominent on the page. That is design, and this book may well be nominated for awards.

It’s an often unrecognized but vital task, book design. And I haven’t taken the opportunity to speak of it, before now.

And she isn’t the only one. On the back flap, we find other names: Jacket design: Whitney Cookman. Jacket photo: Olaf Tiedje. Author photo: Rick Colson.

It took a moment to see, but I finally got it. The book designer was very clever when she placed those competing names. For they are on the jacket, and not in the book. So, fifty years from now, when kids of tomorrow look at an old copy of this book, who will they find? Me, and her. The others . . . vanished with the lost jacket, as if they never existed.

They may have vanished already, actually. On two occasions, I went to the Random House building and I sought out Whitney in his corner office, and . . . . . there was no one there. I found all the others, but not him. If some day I do find him, I will take his picture, and he will join the others, on my blog gallery.

I urge you to purchase my book right away, on the 25th, while you can still get a First Edition that is also a First Printing. Who knows what the future my bring. . . cost reduction engineers at the printer may change my book in subtle and hard-to-define ways, and some of the wonderful things I’ve revealed here may not exist by the fourth or sixth or tenth printing. So get yours soon.

On September 25th

26 comments:

The Muse said...

What a salesman! You forgot to mention that "new book smell" of fresh ink, hot off the presses.

Congratulations, John. Your book has arrived; and it is a reality now.

Paula's Poetry said...

Congratulations, John

I look forward to reading it.



Paula

John Elder Robison said...

Actually Muse, there is no hot ink smell. The new digital printing process results in clean, odorless books.

It's possible you can smell that down at the printing plant in Virginia but it's odor neutral by the time it gets to you.

The Muse said...

In fine art publishing they use different, more pigmented inks that have a very distinct odor. I love that smell. Are you still planning to go down to Virginia to the printers? Before OSHA banned oil- based inks, the smell of the old inks could be very intoxicating.

Kim Stagliano said...

John, I think people will need to hear you recite specific lines from the book, in person, at will to be extra extra certain you are the writer. That, of course, will require attending a reading.

Fellow bloggers, I live in CT, near John's reading at RJ Julia in Madison. You are cordially invited to spend the night in my yard, my driveway and for those of you who bring gifts, on my back deck. The trampoline will be reserved for visitors who bring cash.

I'll be at the NY reading on the 25th and the CT reading on the 26th. See you there!

(PS) I will feed you all breakfast.

Tena said...

I urge you to purchase my book right away, on the 25th, while you can still get a First Edition that is also a First Printing.

I am SO on it, John!

I love your description not only of the colors of the book, but of the raised letters on the front. I can actually feel the heft of it.

You've got INK!!!

Chumplet said...

Did you take it out for dinner yet? Or at least treat it to Chinese Food? I'd sleep with mine. I can't wait to experience that new book smell. I'll take it to work and put it up on my desk, inviting everyone who passes to caress it.

Polly Kahl said...

Hey John, don't think you've ever mentioned it: Where did the picture on the cover come from?

"Little Bear" said...

I'm sorry if this upsets you, but I'm still not looking forward to the book release, despite having had months to acclimate to the idea.

I have a couple of things to say for the record. These seem trivial but are important to me.

1. I hate that you refer to me as "damaged". It makes me feel like a box that got dropped in the factory, something that can't ever be fixed. I'm not like that.

2. My mother NEVER called me "Baby Daughter." That was your name for what you thought she must have called me. I thought you were making fun of me - the name reminded me of cheesy 1940s Charlie Chan movies with "number 1 son". You always had a big sh*t-eating grin when you called me "Baby Daughter". It was nasty.

3. I don't care if you still want to call me "Little Bear" - I objected to your using it after we separated due to your tone of voice. I don't care WHAT people call me, as long as it is essentially respectful - which means - no mean grins with ANY name.

With that said, I'm happy for you - I just wish I wasn't in your book. I felt like the bullet just missed me when I didn't appear in your brother's books because almost every one in them is bizarre. I know I'm weird, but I try not to make a public spectacle of myself. As a character in your book, I'm on public display. Heck - I don't even have a blog! And this is the only one I've ever posted to!

Everybody - buy lots of books. Just keep a copy of this inside each one!

John Elder Robison said...

Little Bear, I'm sorry you are troubled by my description of you as damaged. It's not mean. We were both damaged children with violent, drunk fathers.

The actual words in the book are, "she was a shy, damaged kid like me. Something about her fascinated me."

Overall, most people who have commented think that depiction of you is sweet.

Now that you point it out, it was me that said you were "mother's baby daughter," as opposed to mother actually saying it. So I agree, but it's a harmless note.

As to the third point, I think my portrayal of you IS essentially respectful and considerate. Reviewers have noted the overall absence of malice or villians in my book overall.

John Elder Robison said...

Polly, the picture on the cover came from Whitney Cookman's wellspring of creativity. He's one of the industry's top designers with many awards to his credit. He and the Crown art staff get all the credit for that.

Whitney's cover, in slight variations, is appearing all over the English-speaking world this fall and winter.

John Elder Robison said...

Chumplet, I did take the book to dinner where it was passed around and admired, and then returned to the safety of its carrying bag.

Conditions did deterioriate later in the evening, with some food and liquor being spattered. Shortly before our departure, the back snapped off Bob's chair, but the book was safely tucked away and suffered no harm.

Anonymous said...

I guess we all now know why John chose the name "Little BEAR".

I personally thought that he was extremely kind towards you in the book, "Little Bear". I have met you before…This is the wrong forum to display your anger towards your ex. Most people would have just deleted your nasty post; but John does not believe in censorship. Furthermore there is absolutely NOTHING that you can say to this audience that is going to change our opinion of him. So don't waste your time!

Anonymous said...

That damned First Amendment!

Click, Delete, Delete, Empty Trash

The Muse said...

Hey Kim,

A big pajama party? We know that you like beer and donuts. I insist that you perform your Viagra jingle though.

PS. For breakfast I'll bring some Bear Claws...

kristen said...

John, I just want to say congratulations, again. I've lined up my babysitter for the 25th and am very excited to attend the B&N reading.

Do you think it will be too much of a scene there to buy a book and have it signed? You know, a lines around the block kind of thing? Or should I try and get my book ahead of time? Come to think of it, I'm not sure how these things work. Are you allowed to bring a book or must you buy it there? (oh, sorry to ramble...)

John Elder Robison said...

Kristen, I think they expect you to buy the books there. We are, after all, at Barnes & Noble's flagship store that night.

I don't think there will be a problem.

I really don't know what to expect in terms of crowds but I encourage you to come and I will certainly be signing books, as will my brother. This will be one of a few opportunities for both of us to sign books in which we both appear.

Chumplet said...

Little Bear, it's sweet of you to express your support, even if the subject hurts. Everyone heals in their own way, and I hope someday you will be healed, too.

John, you and your brother at a booksigning together! What a day that will be.

The dinner with your book sounds like it was a real party. Good thing book went to bed early.

"Little Bear" said...

Again - sorry if I’ve upset anyone (like anonymous), but this is MY life, not any one else’s. My adolescence was not a time that I would willingly repeat. I’ve been forced to relive it in John’s book, but as Bizzaro World (reference -Superman comics). Is this stuff of vital import to the book? No. The crack about “Baby Daughter” is background trivia, but it reminds me of how much I got teased as a kid (especially by you, John), and such teasing can be poisonous.

I’ve always been very private. I feel like I’ve been forcibly stripped naked in front of the entire world. I’ve got a good life, now; I have no desire to relive my past. These bits in the book have done exactly that - I’ve had flashbacks to the times that I would prefer to forget. I’m a minor character, but it’s too much for my preference. I read and commented on an early version of the book. This stuff was written later - I never saw it until the review copy came out. “People who read it” may think it very sympathetic, but they (and you, John) are missing the point. It’s trivia from MY LIFE, not theirs. Would any typical reader voluntarily be a character in someone else’s book about the worst time in their life?

The new school year is starting and I’ve got a ton of work, so I doubt I’ll contribute further. Someday, maybe I’ll write my own book. Again, I’m sorry if I upset anyone - it was not my intent. Have fun at the book-readings. John is a great story-teller, both on paper and in person. You’ll enjoy yourselves (so will John!). Buy lots of books so Jack can go to MIT without needing a scholarship (just joking... maybe...)

Stormy said...

John, congratulations on your book! I LOVE the title and the cover. Absolutely brilliant.

I have a friend with asperger so I am especially thrilled that you have written this. If the book itself is as detailed and entertaining as your review of the finished product I know it will be incredible.

Kev said...

I just stumbled across your site and pre-ordered your book. As a fellow Aspergian, I look forward to it!

John Elder Robison said...

Stormy, the actual book is immeasurably richer, and more detailed and entertaining than my description of it here.

In terms of content, the description you just read is less than nine-tenths of one percent of what's contained in the actual book.

By eleven accepted standards of measurement, experts have deemed the book superior to the blog so you can buy it without fear.

Anonymous said...

Little Bear,

All of us have pasts that we’d rather forget... I promise you, Little Bear, that NO ONE is going to think less of you by reading John’s book. John carefully crafted his words to protect your feelings. After all, you are Cubby’s mother. He would never intentionally hurt you. As an objective reader, I honestly thought that he was very sensitive and loving towards you in that chapter. You were a big influence in his life and that shows in the book. On the contrary, I think that John is very respectful of you and portrays you as a truly sympathetic character. He only said that you both grew apart… You have nothing to be ashamed. So don’t portray yourself on this blog as a sour, disgruntled ex-wife. Be cautious of your tone and of the power of the written word.

You have an incredible opportunity to use this publicity to your advantage. Demonstrate to the world how you have grown from your adversities. I, like millions of others, grew up with alcoholic parents also. I am sympathetic to your pain. Adult children of alcoholics are all “damaged” by that experience. You are a very intelligent woman, and soon to be famous because of John’s book. I know that there is comfort in anonymity, and that you would have preferred to have not been included in his book. But then that would have also been hurtful to have been overlooked and not mentioned because you were such a huge part of his life. Stop seeing yourself as being a victim, Little Bear, but start to see yourself as a survivor. We all have choices in life. Choose to have a positive attitude towards the release of this book. It may change your life! Count your many blessings and sincerely try to be happy for John. I, like every one of his blog friends, believe that he truly deserves this success. Take the high road…

Agent M said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to read it.

PLANET3RRY said...

I have not stopped thinking about your book for a week now. Something just kept popping the engine behind the book in my mind. Ans thus, a copy was preordered for a Knoxville destination... It's going to be my slightly early birthday present to myself!

h2okatcher said...

I saw your book during lunch at Borders today! The jacket cover is quite eye-catching!

Congratulations on your new book!