Thursday, February 16, 2006

Books for Dry Cracked Souls

What is a “chapbook” you say? Okay, I may have only imagined that is what people said when at the end of my last blog I said this time I would get to chapbooks. A chapbook is kind of like an oversized pamphlet. They max out at twenty pages, or so I'm told. I found out how to make one so I'll start by talking about that before we get to what you would put in one.

Don't ask me what fiddling would go into getting the pages set up in the word processor, though I can see being able to do it in a drawing program so easily. What you do to make your own chapbook is take five sheets of paper and turning them the wide way fold them in half. This forms the pages of the book. The pages then have to be stapled or, and this seems to be the preferred method when using good paper stock, stitched. For those of you into the RPG scene you probably have a bunch of books that are “saddle stitched” just like this as a part of becoming a “perfect bound” book. Now, stapled or stitched, there is a chapbook. It needs a cover. That can be the outermost “page” of the book, or it can be another one that is preferably made of sturdier paper, say photo paper for your computer printer which has other benefits.

Just to go back to that tangent I started for a moment, a perfect bound RPG has several chapbook-like sections glued together as well as being glued to the cover. This is why entire sections come out whole. They tend toward thirty-two page sections, or sixteen pieces of paper. That is also why RPG books (at least of those types) tend to be certain lengths over and over again--multiples of sixteen. It is also what limits them in some respects and is certainly a point of design that has to be taken into consideration.

So, the chapbook has it's pages, it has its binding, and it has its cover. I would have to guess that the cover is either glued on, or perhaps stapled/stitched with the rest of the pages. The question then becomes what can you put in under twenty pages of that size at a readable font. The answer is that it comes out to about a 4000 word story, which makes it a good format for today's short story lengths.

Who is making chapbooks? That seems like a logical question. Some authors are doing it with special stories. The purposes I have to imagine range from special items for diehard fans, or to raise money for a charity, and just because they can. I also saw it suggested that a chapbook might be a good way to interest a publisher in your short story, as sort of proof that you're willing to put in that much extra effort. I am doubtful of such “antics” but at the same time have to wonder just maybe. I've heard stories of people sending other things to publishers like the story on CD as well as the hard copy, or music to listen to while reading the manuscript.

Thanks to certain publications of web related matters I am going to attempt to cut my blog a little shorter than I sometimes do. Until next time, gentle audience...

Mood: genteel.
Music: Silver wings by Bruce Dickinson and F.I.N.E. by Aerosmith.

The Best of Bruce Dickinson
Buy these at Amazon.ca
Click Images to Buy
Aerosmith: Pump

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