The Copyright Page — by Letizia


Here’s a real treat for you my friends!  This week’s blog is by one of my frequent visitors, known only as Letizia.  She is a professor at a University that I’m guessing is located in the eastern United States, but her background is Swiss/French.  I’ve been reading Reading Interrupted for a couple of years, and it’s always well worth visiting.  Please enjoy today’s post, and thank you, Letizia, for donating your super reading observations!

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I was so pleased when my blogging friend and author, Liesa, asked me to write a guest post.  I always look forward to her posts, her reflections on the creative process, and updates on her beautiful German Shepard.

Holding a book in my hand for inspiration, I started thinking about how I read. I turned the book cover open and realized that I didn’t start reading on the first page of the story.

For me, the first page of a book is the copyright page. I can’t remember when I started paying attention to it, but now, when I open a book for the first time, I always look at it.

Some are more interesting than others, but they provide me with a little introduction to the book.

Jhumpha Lahiri’s The Namesake, for example, gives us the subject terms by which the book is categorized: Young men—Fiction, Massachusetts—Fiction, Children of immigrants, etc.

I notice that she first published it as a novella in The New Yorker

Jhumpa Lahiri copyright page

The copyright page of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road reminds me that the book was first published in 1961.

I learn that the author passed away in 1992.

copyright page for Revolutionary Road

My French books are different.  Natalie Sarraute’s Le Silence, for example, is very simple, only revealing the actual publication dates.  The ISBN number and other information are found at the end of the book.

Copyright page for Sarraute

If we are lucky, the page can be whimsical, part of the creative process itself.  I particularly like the ones by book designer, Louise Fili, who wanted to move beyond the traditional look:

copyright page for Louise Fili

The copyright page reminds us that we are holding someone’s creation, reminds us that we are about to read the collaborative work of an author, an editor, a book designer, etc.  At its best it gives us insight into the creative process and an introduction to the story.  At the very least, it tells us where and when the book was published, situating it in history.

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78 thoughts on “The Copyright Page — by Letizia

  1. Pingback: The Copyright Page | reading interrupted.

  2. Oh how funny! I do this too. Usually before I read, but often, especially if I really love the book, after. I think it is a way to enjoy a book as an object, not exactly sure why, but that’s how it feels to me.
    I enjoyed my visit to your blog Liesa, gorgeous dog, I had a Shepard once, he was the love of my life. 🙂

    • Hi Abby,

      Thanks so much for visiting today! I took the chance to go to your site, and what a treat it was. Love your videos. Glad my Prophet brought you a smile today. He gives me a reason to each time we’re together and then, yes, like W. S. Merwin, I just want to say “thanks.” Have a great day.

    • I’m not surprised you read the copyright page too, Abby, as I know how much you cherish the book as a vehicle for storytelling but also as an object itself. It’s a little peek into the making of the book, isn’t it? Thanks for reading as always, and for checking out Liesa’s great blog.

  3. I’m glad I’m not alone in reading the copyright page. I don’t spend quite as much detail on it, but I always need to know when the book was first published. Helps root me in the story, even if the story takes place in the past or the future. I like to picture the timeframe in which the author wrote his words.

    Great idea for a post!

    • I remember having discussions in class as an undergraduate – whether or not it was important to the understanding of the story to know when a book was written/ if the historical roots of the book and author should always be taken into consideration. It led to some lively debates. I’m sure you would have liked to be a fly on the wall during those discussions, Carrie.

    • Hi Carrie,

      Thanks for your visit. I can’t wait to dive into some of your posts. They look terrific!

      And I’m right with you on the putting yourself in the timeframe of the author. Earlier this year, I reread Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and to know that this was created in a mind more than 60 years ago was amazing. Mr. Bradbury’s prescience truly hit home. May we all continue to live in a world of book lovers.

  4. I learn do much from you, Letizia. No matter where you are. Liesa has a great blog and thank you for showing it to me. You have a writer’s heart. I don’t know of a writer that doesn’t start at the very same place as you.

    • Hi Dannie,

      Wow! Thailand, hunh? What a great site you have, and a nice collection of books you’ve written. Thank you so much for being a part of this blog post today. You’re also right about Letizia’s heart and talent. I love her site and look forward to visiting yours. Wishing you well.

  5. Now, here’s my read of the photos. I see:

    a Lahiri book that’s absorbed a spill;

    a Yates book that’s in its 21st print run! It made the author some $$;

    high quality paper used by the French publisher, paper that draws me to the book;

    and a designer that I love!

    • I love your take on each photo, Jilanne! I have so many warped books from reading in the bath – I suppose I should be more careful…

      I love that you noticed the quality of the paper in the French novel – although that shouldn’t surprise me given your recent posts on book binding!

    • Hi Jilianne,

      Thank you for visiting today. What a clever eye you have for the book! I think the Fili design really caught my eye, but I love the warp in Lahiri’s book. This is truly the sign of a well-loved friend–a little warn, but there for you always.

      Have a great day.

  6. What a delightful guest post Letizia. I love your keen sense of learning and detail, the way you glean so much from the writing and reading process in ways that I, for one, would not normally pay much attention to. From now on, I will always make sure to read the Copyright Page with much greater interest. Thank you 🙂

  7. Yes, I like to read the copyright page too. I always read it before I start the first chapter. I think it is a part of the book and should be read and enjoyed too.

  8. Holy crap, I can’t say I’ve ever paid attention to a copyright page before! lol (Except for citation requirements like maybe in high school, of course.)

    Great, Letizia. Now I’m wanting to yank every book off my bookshelves and start paying more attn! : )

    And Liesa, thanks for hosting Letizia. Don’t think I’ve ever stopped by, but if you’re a fan of Letizia, you’re “good people” in my book.

    • Thanks, Stan, for stopping by. I like your writing style! And I have to say I feel like Letizia has introduced me to a wonderful new reading community. She is “good people,” and I hope to get to know more of her friends over time. Wishing you well.

    • You’ll see, Stan, there are some hidden gems on those pages sometimes! I like the image of you looking at all the copyright pages in all your books, books piling up by your feet, haha!

  9. Letizia, you are the one who reminded me to check under the dust jacket of a book and now you have given me another area to look at more closely. I remember you also wrote about the scent of a book. You are a true lover of books.

  10. Such an interesting post and comparisons, I wonder if it is the author that comes up with the tags, its like reducing a book to less than 10 words, harder than a synopsis or a blurb perhaps!

    I admit I’m disappointed when there is no additional information on these pages or when there is very little written about the author, though it shouldn’t affect the reading of the story, I’m just one of those readers who likes the peripheral information.

    I’m reading Elena Ferrante at the moment, a pseudonym for a writer whose true identity is unknown. And yet the fact that this has generated much discussion and debate for me, provides the necessary additional information, the story that frames the story 🙂

    • Hi Claire, Thanks for visiting and commenting! I like your perspective on the copyright page. While I don’t know about other books, for Faith on the Rocks, the copyright page was handled entirely by the publisher–including the tags in the Library of Congress cataloging section. I only had to write the flap blurb and the “About the Author” text. Wishing you well on your hunt for Elena Ferrante.

      • How interesting to learn about Elena Ferrante – will have to read the book. And so interesting, Liesa, to learn about how your own copyright page was constructed!

    • Hi Naomi, Thanks for visiting today. I think you’re right about Letizia’s post. I always enjoy her work. To be honest, I’ve always skimmed the copyright page, looking particularly for publication date, but you can be sure I’m going to pay much closer attention in the future. Wishing you all the best!

    • Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for visiting here. I think your own eye for detail (as in your lovely bridge post) is testament to the creative process wherever you go in life. Wishing you all the best.

  11. Well I never – I don’t think I’ve looked at a copyright page before. You’re right Letizia, they can add interest and perspective to a book. Certainly I like to know, as minimum, the date of first publication so I can place the writing in time and space. Must have a scoot around your blog Liesa though I regret I’m no dog lover 🙂

    • Hi Roy,
      Glad to meet you, and I truly appreciate your honesty. No problem about the lack of dog interest. If I were a runner, I think I’d find dogs annoying more than anything. My Proph and I are constantly in the way of those trying to get a healthy jog in. And let’s not even start with the “presents” runners have to avoid. Lovely gravitar you have. I hope you have many happy times ahead.

    • Hi Christy,

      Thanks so much for visiting. Your poetry is imaginative and bright too! I love “The Capital” poem and look forward to reading more (but to be honest, I am woefully uneducated with regard to poetry). Wishing you all the best.

      • Hi Liesa, Nice to meet you too! Not to worry either regarding poetry as I also post short stories, book reviews, author interviews… So hopefully there will be something to amuse you there soon. I look forward to exploring your blog too! 🙂

  12. Lady, you are such a genius! I particularly love the cup of tea. How do you find these gems. And also, you always give me a knew perspective. I love reading, but I am an impatient reader, scrabbling to the first page. You have shown me what else to stop and notice. What to look for. xx

    • I have a fun book by Louise Fili on her designs – I’m sure you would like it! The copyright page of her own book is in the shape of four forks, so clever. Thanks for dropping by Liesa’s blog and reading my post, Gabriela. I know what you mean by wanting to scramble to the first page!

    • Hi Gabriela. Thanks for visiting here. I sure understand the impatience thing–If I find I like chapter titles but the copy is a bit dull, I find myself flipping from chapter to chapter and only skimming the book. So many books. . . so little time!

    • It’s rare to find a real gem, like Lahiri’s – that the novel was originally published in a shorter form elsewhere, but there are always little tidbits to discover. Think of me next time you look at the copyright page, Andrea, haha!

      • Hi Andrea,
        Doesn’t Letizia’s post just make you want to run to the nearest library and check out all of the copyright pages? I’ve been a lot more careful about that since her post. Thanks for joining us and adding your voice to the conversation. Wishing you well.

  13. A wonderful post. There is always a story within a story, within a story. Books are living, joyous companions. There is a communication that occurs between two people (author & reader) that will, in all likelihood, never meet. With books, we are not limited to time, space or location. We converse with the past, just as easily as having coffee with a friend. You are so right, Letizia – the Copyright Page is essential, as are the forwards and epilogue. Can you imagine if J.R.R. Tolkien had left out the appendices?

    • Clanmother,

      Thanks for your insights on books. Stephen King writes about telepathy when a writer and a reader connect, but I had forgotten the time travel aspect of it all. It is a game , all this mind-to-mind connecting, and there seem to be more players all the time. Adding in the publisher is a fantastic team member in the trek to creativity. Wishing you well.

        • No, Ross, don’t go boldly into the night. Just italicize your efforts and put a new face on things :-). I love typography too. One of my favorite fonts is Palatino–so classic, clean, and clear. How ’bout you? Are you a serif man or do you prefer the fun of a bold stencil face?
          Wishing you well.

        • I used to own a newspaper (don’t get excited; it was a small English weekly in French Quebec) and our headline style was Palatino Bold, so I have a nostalgic fondness (fontness) for it. You need to live with a font for a while to decide about it, I find. I used to think Copperplate Gothic was the bee’s knees, but those small caps get old pretty fast.

  14. I find myself looking at the copyright page either in the middle of reading the story, or when I’ve finished it, or when I’m reading about the author (usually found on the back cover). I skip right past it though when I am ready to embark on the story itself — I’m probably too excited to begin the story. A copyright page is always interesting, regardless of when I ultimately read it!

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