I believe that books for young people should not only be great fun to read, but they should be beautiful objects. The book as something fine to hold, and take in with eye, and hand, is an enhancement to the pleasures of reading.
The fact is, however, the quality of book production is declining. At a time when publishers should produce books that are bright and appealing to the eye—by way of contrast to digital text—it is almost as if they are deliberately degrading books so as to drive people to digital texts—from which publishers make greater profits.
I recently saw a novel which was illustrated by one of the children’s book world’s important artists. The illustrations were fine—if you could see them. Because the paper they were printed on was dreadful. It was not white, but some pulpy gray stuff that rendered the art work muddy, dull, blurring the detail. It was at best, published thoughtlessly, at worst, with a casual indifference to the artist, which was nothing less than shocking. Why? Bad paper is cheaper.
There is art in a book, and there is the art of the book. They need to go together.