The Pleasing Readers Process

December 2001
by Gunnar Swanson

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I believe it’s easier to think when you’re relaxed. So before I bore you with talk of ergonomics, you should curl up in bed with a good book. Is a Complete Works of Joyce Carol Oates book available? Bring along a dictionary just in case you want to look up a word; the Oxford English Dictionary would be a good choice. I like the single volume with the magnifying glass but the full-size set would be OK.

Some of you may not sleep alone in a king-size bed and a few of you may not bench press 300 pounds so you might already be wishing for something lighter (in actual, if not figurative, weight). The giant-book format that is so satisfying sitting on your coffee table and displaying large photos to four of your friends at a time would be a lousy one for a book to take on an airplane. The French phrasebook you tuck away in your pocket should not be the model for a mathematics text (unless it’s The Idiot’s Guide to Cheating on Trigonometry Tests).

 

What’s More Important than Word Counts

 

The size of a book is partially determined by the number of words the author wrote but it must also be formed by how it will be used. Who will be reading the book? Under what lighting conditions? How will it be held, or how far away will it be? Will the reader need to do something else while using the book?

The term “ergonomics” is usually associated with the design of chairs, tools, and computer i…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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