In this episode we look at the peritextual elements of quite a few books– all of the things that aren’t the content– and how they relate to the feel of the book and our impressions about it.
The links all show example pictures to help illustrate the point. There are a few still to come, but this is a pretty comprehensive list as is! Some of the pictures are from the publisher and some I took myself.
Size and Shape
D&D 4th Edition- The standard in gaming. Hardcover, 8.5×11 inches. 4th Edition’s difference is that the 3 books come in a handy-dandy sleeve.
Hero 5th Edition Revised– The same shape as D&D but text-book thick.
Burning Wheel– 5×7 and softcover. Still has same number of pages as D&D, but they are mini pages. Makes the book much more portable.
Savage Worlds: Explorer’s Edition– Also softcover, but a bit longer and wider than Burning Wheel (which means neat, orderly shelving will be screwy).
Star Wars Saga– A square. Made to fit on bookstore’s shelves.
Rifts- Pretty picture, shows action, clear title, publisher, and author, and of course, boobies.
The Savage World of Solomon Kane– Only a few words, but great illustration and the glossy and matte finish make Meg happy.
Dread– Extremely simple but sets the stage beautifully. A bloody thumbprint? What’s not to love?
Burning Wheel– Red on Red. Hard to see, confusing, boring. Doesn’t say anything about the game.
The Trail of Cthulhu – Green on green, but spooky, mysterious
GURPS: Alpha Century– cover of book is cover of Sid Meier’s video game. Good marketing if you like the video game (which we did).
First few pages of a book before the content actually starts. Can include publication information, credits, acknowledgments, table of contents, and introduction
- Pastedown- the page pasted to the inside of the cover (hardcover only)
- Flyleaf- the page opposite the pastedown
Deadlands Reloaded– Personal acknowledgments, Font in table of contents very appropriate and there is “white space” so text doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Introduction is a old-timely newspaper format. Back Cover
Are illustrations confined in a border to make it feel like you are looking as an voyeur, or do the touch the edge of the page to draw you in?
- Bleed- when the illustration touches the edge of a page
- Full Bleed- when all illustrations touch all edges
Deadlands Reloaded– full bleed
d20 Future– Standard. Page number in border (on side)
GURPS- Transhuman Space- Dark border with white boxes with text. Dark borders give it a space theme.
Expeditious Retreat: Magical Society of Ecology and Culture and Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition– Old timey paper feel to border.
Cyberspace. Almost whole book in table or chart. Lower corner of each page gives extra material to book in terms of a year-by-year timeline.
Nightbane– Very first thing in book is a warning to prevent claims of Satanism.
Earthdawn– All peritextual elements completely vanilla (written in 1995) except two full pages of punch-out cardstock cards.
Pictures in books should show you things you may play, things you may fight or goals or ideas you may have as well as set the stage for the book. The feel also needs to be consistent throughout. The media used can change, but don’t mix styles!
D&D 4th Edition– Player’s Handbook has detailed pictures of the types of characters you are going to play (Person), the Dungeon Master’s Guide shows places you will go (Place), and the Monster Manual shows the things you are going to fight (Things).
Dark Heresy, Warhammer 40,000– Extremely detailed, dark, gritty illustrations.
Serenity– Beautiful cover, but almost all of “illustrations” are screen caps from the movie. Says not, “We’re trying to adapt the movie” but “We’re trying to make the movie.” Borders are good except top of every page says “Serenity the Role Playing Game”. Seems too self-congratulatory and constantly reminds us it is “official“.
Star Wars Saga– nice mix of screencaps and illustrations, but again, too much of a mix of styles.