The endpapers or Endpapers at the end of a book can be a interesting and useful place. Why the lower case and upper case difference? Well, because they are two completely different terms. The endpapers, lowercase e, I have visited and made use of for several years. The Endpapers, uppercase e, I have felt the existence of but never truly understood what was happening within those pages.
The endpapers lowercase e
The endpapers, according to layout artists, are a result of how the book was laid out in signatures or groups of pages. Having extra, blank pages at the back ensures that there are an even number of pages in the book for binding. In fact, some authors request them because that is the way it has been done in the past, it is tradition. Through a process called kerning, layout artists can adjust spacing subtly in a book in order to reduce the number of pages, especially at the end of the book. Alternatively, publishers add previews, list of other works, quotes in praise of the book, and other items to avoid wasting space (Mental Floss). Rest assured, dear publishers, I never consider those blank pages a waste rather I am grateful that they are there. Those magically blank places are a space provided by the publisher encouraging interaction with the book. Writing in the endpapers? Yes. Technically, it is after the book but in the between the covers. My conscience is clear. Did I mention that the publishers gave you that space? That invitation to fill the papers? What more could a writer or publisher ask of a reader than to engage with their book: write notes, examine themes, cites quotes, ask questions, create predictions, chart characters, make connections, and think deeply about what they are reading? These notes I use for my long form journal, lesson plans, and book club meetings and they are all collected right there for easy reference. The endpapers are a tradition worth keeping in my opinion.
The Endpapers Uppercase E
The Endpapers were explained to me by author Anna James. I picked up a copy of Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers for school, thinking that my students might enjoy it. So, I read it and it became an instant favourite. Perhaps in a podcast episode I will explain in great detail all that I love about this book but for now it is her concept of Endpapers that I want to spend time on. Tilly, the main character in the novel, finds that she can travel into books and interact with the characters and settings contained therein. But, there are rules. One rule of bookwandering is not to wander within five pages of the ending. It can be dangerous, the bookwanderer must be ready to pull themselves out of the book at a moments notice. Most booklovers and bookwanderers will tell you that leaving a book you’ve gone into isn’t always as easy as looking up. It is also important to remember that “endings can be unpredictable (page 206),” Seb, an Underlibrarian told us. According to what I learned at the Underlibrary with Tilly, Endpapers are the “negative matter at the end of books that acts as a cushion to bounce characters back if something goes wrong (page 207)”. This helps the characters remain in their stories so we can find them, just as they were last time we visited them. “Getting stuck in the Endpapers is when the story has ended, but you are still in the book and it can be very tricky to get back from there (page 207).” In my world, getting stuck in the Endpapers is also called a “book hangover” and is defined in the Urban dictionary (use with caution) as “the inability to start a new book because you are still living in the old book’s world.” Personally, I think that definition is lacking something. I would amend it to, “the inability to return to real or regular life or start a new book because you are still living in the old book’s world.” But, that is based on my experience. As you can see, Endpapers are a useful safety net for keeping our favourite stories and characters in tact and in place for future visits. And, although you may need to reread the last line a few times to make it out of the book successfully, the Endpapers are there to provide space and time for you to pull yourself back into the world you live in from the book you were lost in. What better use for paper is there than that?’
On the Fly leaf
Buzzfeed article on Endpapers:
Get over a book hangover:
Check this one out on Goodreads: