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Do you read the bonus material in a book? There are tons of extras that publishers occasionally see fit to throw into a book. I read most of it but not all and I’m curious how other readers feel. My list and how I feel about them (I do realize that some of these are way more “extra” than others):
1. Introduction–I avoid these like the plague. They should be called “Conclusions” at best, or, more honestly, “Spoilers.” They definitely need to be put at the end of the book rather than the beginning. I mostly see them in the Barnes & Noble editions of classics. I know the books are classics, so the plot is supposed to just be general knowledge, but I frequently don’t know anything about the classic that I’m reading. So to read an “Introduction” only to have the entire plot outlined and spoiled quite honestly pisses me off.
2. Dedication–I do usually glance at these. I think they give me an idea about who the author is as a person. Does she dedicate it to her family, friends, pets, or readers? These can be pretty cute sometimes.
3. Prologue (or whatever you choose to call the bit of story that comes before Chapter 1)–I do read these. They frequently set up something that comes along later in the book. I have one friend on GoodReads who refuses to read them. She says, “If it were necessary to the story, it would be called ‘Chapter 1.'”
4. Epilogue (or whatever you choose to call the bit of story that comes after the last chapter)–I read these as well, but sometimes I regret it. For the most part, I feel like epilogues give me some closure. Usually some time has elapsed, the characters are in a better place, and it’s nice to see how they’re doing. But every once in a while I come across an author who decides to introduce a cliffhanger in the epilogue. I’m as over cliffhangers as I am love triangles, so then I just get aggravated with the whole book.
5. Footnotes–I read most footnotes. I at least start off reading them until I figure out how helpful, funny, or necessary they’re going to be. They can irritate me a lot (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but they can also add a lot to the story, such as in Bartimaeus’s smart ass asides in the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. To single out Barnes & Noble again, the footnotes in their classics are a waste of time for most readers. Yes, I know what a portcullis is. I do not need it defined in a footnote.
6. Acknowledgements–I at least glance at these. If it’s obviously just a list of names that mean nothing to me, I’ll move on. But, like the dedications, they can sometimes be pretty cute and give me an idea what the author is like as a person.
7. About the Author–I’ll always read this section. I just like to know what the author wants me to know about him- or herself. They can be pretty revealing.
8. Interview with the Author–I’ll usually read these, but not always. If it was just a so-so book, I usually decide that I’ve spent enough time on this book and move on. If it was 4 stars or better, I’ll give it a whirl. I like the added insight the author gives me to the story.
9. Book discussion questions–I’ll glance at them and that’s about it. They’re usually too…too…too… tough to answer? I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time chewing over every aspect of a book because I’m ready to move on to something else. I don’t necessarily care about the symbolism of the butterfly unless I noticed it as I was actively reading the actual story.
10. Chapters From the Next Book–I always skip these. I don’t read series books back to back because I just need a break from this world. I don’t want to get sucked into the next book and I don’t want any potential cliffhangers.
11. A Note about the Type–I’ll admit, if I’ve just finished something that I didn’t want to end, I will even read the bit that tells me this book is set in Times New Roman which was developed whenever by whomever. I am not a graphic artist or actually interested in fonts in any way; this is just a way for me to put off the final closing of the book.
12. Maps–I think this only pertains to my fellow fantasy readers, but I love when authors give me a map. I’ll grab a Post-It flag and mark the page so I can refer to it when needed.
13. Lists of Characters–I definitely skip these and they intimidate me when I see that a book has them. I get very frustrated when I have to remember too many characters! Yet I love George R. R. Martin and his character list is up around 30 pages. Seriously.
These are all the bonus materials I can think of. Can you think of any others? Do you read any of these and why or why not?
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