Making a Mark: A Fine Read, but Disappointing Book

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

 

I put my name in the pot for Making a Mark because it sounded like it would be a helpful resource in my life. Two of my closest friends are huge art and art history buffs, and I’d like to have a little more knowledge about the field, without revealing the total depth of my ignorance to them. So a book written by a grandmother to her grandchild sounded perfect! It would tell me a story in a way that didn’t make me feel stupid.

Making a Mark mostly succeeds at telling the story of European painting in a way that is interesting and well-informed, but fails as a book. The writing is fine and the information is clearly laid out chronologically, with occasional detours to talk more about specific techniques and styles. It’s almost what I wanted.

But it’s an art book that has no art in it.

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There is not a single picture in this book. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in finding that strange, because the day after the book was emailed out to the Early Reviewers (ebooks, yay!), there was another email from the publisher explaining that no, we didn’t get faulty copies of the book. The book really had no pictures.

They gave their reasons for this omission as a combination of the rights for showcasing the famous works being difficult to obtain; wanting users to go out and utilize free resources online to see these paintings, thereby raising awareness of these resources for people who may otherwise be unfamiliar with them; and the fact that most people reading an ebook are reading on a reader that only displays in black and white.

Here’s the thing — this is an ebook. Because it is an ebook, I expected more pictures than would otherwise be in an art book because the cost of printing was not a factor to worry about! To not get any was a huge disappointment, and one I think was wholly unnecessary.

If you aren’t going to get the rights to at least some of the paintings discussed in the book, don’t make an art book. If you want users to utilize free resources for most of the paintings, that’s fine, but at least include links or tell us what those resources are (in all fairness, this was a common suggestion, and one the publisher says they will take into serious consideration). And if someone wants to read an art book on an e-reader that displays only in black and white, that’s not the publisher’s problem. The reader needs to find a work-around.

I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn’t. Leave this one behind.

This review has been cross-posted to my LibraryThing account.

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