A Craft of Consequences: Reader, Writer and Emotional Design

It is a usual practice amongst many a book readers that even before reading the very first page of a book, they start analyzing it in a myriad of ways without even noticing.

The paper stash, the width of the binding, the fragrance, the color of the type and even the touch of the cover; the entire character of the book gets dissected by the hand in a few minutes of seeing the book for the first time. In this brief second, there is a discourse between the reader and the object. This exchange is delicate and complex, but for most people it is entirely subconscious. This is because we hardly ever think about these things as we feel them instead.

Before this discourse can take place however, the thoughts of the author must be given shape. By investigating the relationship between the form of the book and the information contained therein, we can try to understand as to how these visual and sensory components function. Additionally, such an investigation helps us to forge long-lasting emotional bonds that we may treasure for a lifetime.

Mislead Interpretation

Sometimes things like bulky illustrations, clumsy type-setting tend to offset the aura associated with great books. For instance, The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins is one such book that is loaded with potential but lacks hopelessly in form and structure. It explores the mystery of evolution and scientific breakthroughs and also discusses in detail as to how these thoughts improve our society and influence our position on probity and philosophy.

In spite of its brilliant setting and sheer strength of content, the visual and ergonomic drawbacks are more than skin deep as they obstruct the relationship between a writer and reader. Dawkins’ testimony seems less pragmatic, less established and somewhat less wonderful, as the book fails miserably to explain the poetry of its content.

Dawkins’ argument is distorted mostly by these jumbled, boisterous and ill-treated illustrative pages. Whilst he describes the superb and exceptional beauty of life, his ideas start looking ordinary & ugly due to improper sequencing and formatting. The images to the left of the book’s stretch, their harsh and chaotic positioning fail to echo the thoughts of wonder, attractiveness and order that the author writer so expressively describes.

A glimpse through popular commercial bookstores will make it abundantly clear that a multitude of books are treated in a similar way. Each one them has a multiplicity of unnecessary information that are in variance with the author’s purpose. Something critical gets distorted in this journey as the object disrupts vital information during transit.

To understand why these books are not delivering to their potential, we ought to first examine how information passes from a writer to a reader.

The Journey

For a substantial period in the past, the book as an instrument existed for a single purpose to transfer information from one mind to another. Although a lot has changed over the years, there will always be difficulties with this form of communication, and in the human reliance on information relay structures to carefully convey data.

These systems are often employed by publishers, since they have total control over the quality of the binding, the typography niceties, color coding and the overall physical appearance of the idea. All the visual and sensory elements mentioned above, unite together to produce the system by which the idea is given form. However, in case of the majority of books out there, this system destroys and infects the arrangement.

The systems mentioned above constitute innumerable components, like the grouping of typefaces, the paper thickness, use of color-coding, printing forms, length and width of margins, and other typographic details. But the problem surrounding these systems is that they are unable to reflect the ideas of the writer in consonance with the form of the book. They act like a barrier to the data that must travel through to be able to find the reader.

The problem is aggravated further by the use of low-priced paper, terrible typesetting and discomfited binding. But most bookmakers and publishers fail to understand how these elements work together and contribute to the reader’s understanding of the author’s ideas

Emotional Information Exchange

When a visual element precisely expresses the ideas of the writer, it becomes a source of sentimental expression. This aids in the transmission of ideas, and creates a healthy curiosity in the reader’s mind that the content is deserving of their precious time.

It takes more than just a good-looking cover, visual retort or an advertising publicity stunt that provokes emotional attachment with the advertized content. It constitutes everything from the size of the font to the texture of the page, since these components not only help explain the content of the book, they also continue to connect with and motivate the reader throughout.

For instance, a book titled “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans”?, focused principally on the consequences of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the music, wealth and spirit of the city. 19th century designs thrive next to watchfully positioned chunk of text and each page has been lavishly printed on high quality paper. These components, apart from many others, unite to create a diverse sense of speed that sets it apart from the multitude of other books. The idea of the book and the form of the book merge into an emotional profusion that cannot be ignored. This is a perfect example of emotional information and it forces the reader to observe the subject and to understand individual pages with as much attention and concentration as those who designed and published it. Ideally, these additional pieces of information enable the reader to comprehend the silent history, thought-process and line of argument of the book. Without them, the discussion between the book and the reader would be less interactive and engaging

Lack of Emotional Content in E-books

As e-readers transmit content digitally or in other words to ‘real’ turning pages they mimic the form of the book, while ignoring the uniqueness of the writer’s ideas. It results in the creation of books that feel and look the same. The system of e-books disregards the writer almost entirely since all their ideas are endowed with the same visual characteristics, quality and appearance. Since unique and brilliant writers follow a definite pattern and pulse within their work, the visual and sensory elements must also be capable of creating emotional experiences that can amuse, influence, educate and stir compliment their writing scheme.


Creating emotional systems to generate a flair for reading is not about nostalgia or the exaltation of a specific medium of expression. It is about the most appropriate information, and the best way to correspond the content to the expected audience. These systems must therefore be articulate enough in safely and quickly transferring data, but they must also be capable of generating interest spontaneously.

Of course, the evolution of such an engaging system is a subjective topic and very little of this article dealt with the specifics of creating one, but this is because each suggestion requires a different illustration and sensory character. Some books require volatile formatting and thick paper to feel ground-breaking; others require a subtle and delicate tone to espouse a feel of calm or serenity. The form of a book is simply an instrument, but quite often a wonderfully efficient instrument nonetheless. Hence, the ideas embedded within different formats must be used judiciously by publishers to enable them to serve their true purpose of making each and every content look more dynamic and lively.

Claudia is a writer/blogger. She loves writing travelling and reading books. She contributes to Hydroxycut

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