I agree with so much of this rant:
I haven’t had many problems with spoilers in back cover copy, which is Hank’s first gripe, but there’s a lot of other stuff I completely agree with.
For instance, letting readers know that the book you’re reading is part of a series. Yes, yes, and oh my god yes. You’ve probably noticed by now that I read a lot of detective stories, and the thing about detective stories is that they’re frequently extremely long series. Yet for some reason, if I want to know, say, the order of Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer books or Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret mysteries (which are currently being rereleased by Penguin), I have to go to Wikipedia to tell me the scoop. I understand that these series are exceptions to the rule, since books in mystery series are generally self-contained—but still, it would be nice to know, a lot of people like to start at the beginning and read in order anyway, and I’ve no idea why publishing companies so frequently seem to want to hide this information.
As to the seriousness of the cover matching the seriousness of the content—well, I agree with Hank, I suppose, but that’s a complicated one, because there you’re getting into complex matters of taste and quality and market positioning. As Maureen Johnson so aptly demonstrated with her coverflip project, the signals a book cover sends about the quality of what’s inside are complicated, and influenced by gender bias, genre bias, and publishing companies’ perceptions about what will help sell a book to its intended market.
But decapitated YA fiction ladies (it’s a trend in adult women’s fiction, too, I’m surprised it hasn’t become a Tumblr yet)—a million times yes.
Hank also gripes about deckle edge, which I completely agree with. Bookish people seem to love deckle edge, but I’m a bookish person and I think that it’s horrible user experience. It’s a struggle every time you go to turn a page. (Speaking of book design stuff, I’m not a huge fan of French flaps either, or, for that matter, hardcover jackets—which, I understand why they’re there, but I always discard them for reading purposes.)
As to Hank’s final point, that books are in many ways a superior medium—no arguments there. Books are awesome, even if deckle edge ones are a bummer.