A friend just passed along this post of Tobias Buckell’s about the sale of Realms of Fantasy magazine to Damnation Press.
His comment? “I thought, how bad could it be? Then I clicked. Now I know better.”
It’s true – that website is painfully bad. I was trying to browse their titles, and what I was able to read looked quite intriguing, in several cases – but I cannot bring myself to order one of their books, lest it turn out to be as utterly unreadable as their website. The content of the books might be incredibly, mind-blowingly good…but if it’s presented as badly as their site, my retinas would dissolve before I was able to process said content.
I mean, truly unfortunate.
Design is one of my great joys in life; I take pleasure in well-designed objects and well-designed media. I like pretty things and I’m not ashamed to admit it. This is one of the reasons I firmly believe that print books will never die – if you get a well-designed one, it’s a treat for all your senses AND a delight for the mind. That’s an incredible thing.
But at the same time, poor design can kill. It’s one reason I hate coding up books for ePub and Kindle production. I take a lot of pride in how I typeset and design a book, and I believe that the PDF format we at Candlemark & Gleam produce is a lovely product, something as pretty as a finished paper book would be. Stripping out the fonts, the formatting, the loveliness of the thing and transforming it into a blah Times New Roman justified file so that it will display on any eReader in equally generic terms is…well, it pains me. Literally. I get this little knot in my stomach and this pinching between my eyes and then I whimper a little and scare the parrot.
Now, I can’t speak to how Damnation Press formats and designs their eBooks – I can’t get far enough past the web design to take that chance. I’m not that big a person. When I have to squint and stare and start having my eyes swim and I get physically nauseous from navigating the website and trying to read book descriptions, I can’t brace myself to tackle a book.
Not good, gang. Really not selling yourselves well here.
I hope that Damnation steps up its design and keeps Realms of Fantasy as the well-designed, well-developed media we’ve come to know and love. Hell, I just hope it steps up its design. It’s not that hard to create an easy-to-read website, one that invites readers in and tempts them to try a book or two on for size. I like to think I’ve pulled that off here. Just…avoid the blue on black, okay, guys? You’ll look a hell of a lot more professional if people can actually read your site without going into convulsions.