The first long book I read was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
It’s obviously helped shape who I am today. Without Terry’s work I doubt I’d be writing this article. But it wasn’t only Terry’s writing that captivated me and made me a lifelong fan. The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara all had wonderful interior illustrations, the first by the Hildebrandt Brothers, the last two by Darrell K. Sweet. I have very fond memories of that artwork. It helped convey visually what my imagination worked to create. It was also exciting to turn the page and get to the next piece of art.
Illustrations within Terry’s books stopped after that third book, sadly. I’ve missed them since.
Fans write into Terry’s website several times a month asking where the interior illustrations went from those first three books. It’s a tough question to address. The reality is, interior art costs money to produce. The printing process is slightly different and artists have to be paid. Publishers do try to keep the cover price down, and unfortunately the first thing that went in the early 1990’s was the interior art.
Some authors have chosen to take matters into their own hands. Brandon Sanderson, bestselling author, hired several artists to produce interior artwork for The Way of Kings. He felt strongly enough about interior illustration that he was willing to pay for it out of his own pocket. He’s a true fan of books to care about their overall aesthetics, in my opinion.
It begs the question then:
Would you pay a bit extra — a dollar or two or three on top of the normal cover price — to have interior illustrations? Several black and white pieces? Or a full color interior foldout? Are they important to you? Or is the prose the only thing that matters to you?
I would love to hear from some of you about this. I stand firmly on the “physical trapping of the book is a piece of artwork and should be treated as such even if it costs a bit more” side of things. What about you? If a book is $27.95 normally, would you pay $29.95 for additional art content? How do you think the eBook publishing business is going to change normal print? Does it matter?