Words and pictures

When we are first introduced to books they are normally of the many pictures few words variety. As we get older the number of pictures decrease directly in proportion to the increase in number of words, until we find ourselves as adults reading books which, for the most part, only have a picture on the cover.

Where did the idea of picture-free reading come from? Why the stigma of having the odd graphic or puzzle to break up the slabs of words? I think adults like pictures. When I read a fantasy novel I always study the map and refer back to it often. I know there are probably equal numbers of people who skip past it and never return to it after thumbing through the front pages, but there must be a good reason why so many fantasy novels do carry the map.

I’m not suggesting that everything should come out in a graphic novel format, but I have to say that one of the more enjoyable aspects of the ‘fancy’ editions of The Da Vinci Code was the inclusion of the paintings and puzzles discussed in the book. I know printing costs are higher and blah, blah, but surely with the advent of e-books all this just got a little bit cheaper.

I know not everyone is a great artist like me (see my Australia Day and Dead Birds posts for examples of my fine art), but even a well placed Sudoku could find a home in a book if related to the text. Now that is a more interactive story without the hyperlink risk of your reader leaving the story.

Perhaps I’ll set that as my next challenge; to write a story where a graphic is vital to the storyline. I know I’ll probably be limiting my market, and I’ll have to come up with a clever description for the visually impaired, but it is a challenge I think I am up to. I think it is time to give the picture another go in the world of adult fiction!

And just to illustrate my point (pun intended) here are a couple of koala pictures. I can guarantee you my hit rate for this blog post (because of the pictures) will be twice my normal non-picture post.

Nat

Mummy Koala

Koala in a tree

One thought on “Words and pictures”

  1. I agree with you there. From a business point of view illustrated books (not for young audiences) were a matter of too much expense for too little profit, but E-books should negate that problem. You will still have to pay the artist but at least the publishing costs drop through the floor.

    There are a few current books out now, including works by Scott Westerfeld, that have beautiful illustrations that really help the story. Depending on the story images can make such a profound difference.

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