Solutions Showcase: Covering All the Possibilities
The old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” may be sage advice, but the publishing community knows better—that it is an intriguing cover that catches the potential reader’s eye. Indeed, a title’s cover is its most valuable marketing tool—an integral part of the publisher’s and author’s brand. So it makes sense that great thought typically goes into a book’s cover design and production.
So was the experience for Walter T. Shaw, a first-time author whose nonfiction book, “A License to Steal,” is being published this year by Omega Publishing Group and manufactured by HCI’s print services division in Deerfield Beach, Fla. The book tells the true story of the tumultuous relationship between Shaw and his father, Walter L. Shaw, one of America’s most prolific inventors.
While it’s not often an author’s role to be hands-on with the design and manufacturing of a book, Shaw says, “I learned all I could about publishing and manufacturing a book. … I looked at books and more books. I saw how some were done inexpensively, and some were over the top.”
In search of guidance, Shaw contacted renowned memoir author Mary Jane Robinson, who gave Shaw some sound advice. “She said, ‘Listen, Walter. You can make a book that costs 30 cents or [one] that costs $150 to manufacture. You need to find a balance,’” recalls Shaw.
With guidance from Robinson, his publisher and his print supplier, Shaw painstakingly chose the materials used in the Smythe-sewn construction—a #1 grade Cougar paper for the pages, and Pearl Linen in Indigo Blue (from LBS) for the cover.
“First and foremost, I wanted to make a book that would stand the test of time. …, ” says Shaw.
A Long, Healthy Life
For a publisher, the cover aesthetic—the type of substrate used, the color palette, the specialty processes deployed—is often dictated by two key factors: the title’s intention/audience and budget.
When a title requires extra durability—as in the case of children’s books, manuals and cookbooks—Arjobex North America offers Polyart, a synthetic paper resistant to water, grease, most chemicals and tearing. “The most popular [Polyart] application is for manuals used in hazardous environments, or [that] are subject to prolonged exposure to the elements,” explains Bruce Gordon, sales and marketing coordinator, Arjobex North America. “Hence, federal and state agencies—especially the military—are prime end-users for manuals printed on synthetic materials.”
For a cloth cover where durability is a must, too, publishers can consider a substrate like LBS’ Buckram—a polycotton blend finished with an acrylic coating, making it the strongest cloth in the industry, according to the supplier.
It was an ICG/Holliston-supplied product—Pearl Linen—that was chosen by Hyperion for the cover of “A Family Christmas” by Caroline Kennedy, intended to be a coffee-table-quality, treasured keepsake. Pearl Linen is made of 100-percent cotton, coated with a double-sided, aqueous filling that makes it particularly amenable to specialty finishing processes—foil stamping, for example.
Nothing says, “This book is valuable,” like leather, and it’s one of the more durable cover materials available.
Today, there are a slew of leather and leather-simulated products on the market. Cromwell Leather Group is known for its genuine-leather cover materials, but the manufacturer also offers four brands of bonded leathers—Taratan, Taratan II, Excel-Tan and Eurobind—that are designed to rival their genuine-leather counterparts in touch and scent.
WingWing America Inc. manufactures Siduce, composed of 100-percent pulp and coated with a polyurethane, making it feel just like the real thing. And, simulating kidskin leather, Cover Material Sales’ CM Sedona 17 Cover is an aqueous-coated premium material that’s resistant to moisture and stains.
The Special Treatment
Beyond the “traditional” cover materials—cloths and leathers, for example—there is a bountiful selection of specialty substrates available, as well.
For special titles that require a more “exotic” aesthetic, publishers can consider a cover option like BN International’s Balacron Special, which Keith Loeb, U.S. director, marketing and sales, calls “our designer range, with a unique range of cover solutions, including metallics, simulated wood grains and reptile patterns.” This year, BN International introduced two new cover solutions under its Balatex Bookcloths brand: Tsarina Crush, a silky, crushed cloth that changes color when viewed from different perspectives; and Kansas, a vat-dyed canvas.
Under the umbrella of its Rainbow brand, Ecological Fibers Inc. manufactures a range of cover materials to seemingly suit most any aesthetic, including seven textile options and more than a dozen coated-paper and leather-fiber materials. The manufacturer even offers more novel cover materials, like Sports Cover, replicas of basketball and football surfaces; or Safari Prestige, described as “a luxuriously rich, untamed animal texture.”
FiberMark offers more than 50 brands of cover materials, including some “nontraditional” products for those titles that require a unique treatment—for example, Beluga by Skivertex, which FiberMark says is reminiscent of the luxurious, aquatic leathers popular in the 1800s, and Silktouch Thermo by Skivertex, which has a thermo-reactive coating, and looks and feels like Nubuck leather.
To keep up with the evolving environmental conscience of the publishing industry, materials manufacturers have been responding with more environmentally responsible products.
Ecological Fibers has built its mission around manufacturing “environmentally sound” materials for the book and decorative packaging industries. Its Rainbow Coated Cover Materials are solvent-free (coated with water-based acrylics). It also offers Rainbow Book Cloths—paper-backed textiles in rich colors for luxury book and packaging applications.
The new year will likely bring the debut of more environmentally conscious cover materials. One already slated to launch in 2008 is LBS’ “Naturals,” says Kristine Aubrey, LBS sales support and marketing. “This cloth is made from 100-percent natural cotton and flax fibers, and is never bleached, dyed or coated,” she says.
Since the early days of digital print, the print engines have quickly matured, and substrate makers have begun to introduce new cover materials compatible with the systems. For example, Gane Brothers & Lane offers Kivar IMAGEase, a cover material specifically designed for the demands of digital printing.
Feed Your Senses
“I believe it is very important for a publisher to have working knowledge of cover materials,” counsels John Doherty, president of Cover Material Sales Inc. “Many projects have turned out as disasters because the wrong material was used. …”
Half the battle is keeping abreast of options available in the marketplace. Substrates and specialty processes abound. Suppliers—like printers and binderies—can be excellent sources of creative inspiration, but publishers may be well-served by developing relationships with cover-material manufacturers and distributors as well. “It’s more important than ever for publishers to be knowledgeable about the different materials that go into their book,” explains Aubrey of LBS. “… Some publishers gain that knowledge from their bindery; others choose to use resources like the Internet. But many … call [us directly].”
Publishers may be best served by taking a more tactile approach—taking time to see, touch, and even smell, the substrate. Why not sample the market? Build a veritable, quick-reference library of swatches, sales kits and finished product to help fuel the creative possibilities.
Book Cover Materials
Here are a number of the leading book cover materials providers and products on today’s market:
Arjobex North America, Charlotte, N.C.
(800) 765-9278 or (704) 587-3000
Product: Polyart—resistant to water, grease and most chemicals, Polyart cover materials are also difficult to tear and well-suited to archival titles. Frequently used for applications like children’s books, technical manuals, catalog covers and cookbooks.
BN International, The Netherlands
Products: Balacron Coated Cover Materials—comprising five brands, including Baladek, a nine-point cover material in a range of colors and embossed patterns, and Baladore, “luxurious and soft to the touch.” Balatex Bookcloths—a collection of rayon, cotton, cotton-linen and coated cloths. New for 2008 are Tsarina Crush, a crushed, color-changing material; and Kansas, a vat-dyed canvas cloth.
Cover Material Sales Inc., Worcester, Mass.
(800) 225-7132 or (508) 771-4900
Products: CM cialux—a dyed and finely woven rayon cloth with tissue-paper backing, imported from Italy. The substrate may be foil-stamped, screen-printed and blind-stamped, and is available in 27 colors. CM Sedona 17 Cover—simulates the feel of kidskin leather. Aqueous coating on both sides makes it resistant to moisture and staining. CM econo-cloth—a 100-percent-cotton base with a durable, aqueous acrylic coating. CM C-cloth—an aqueous, acrylic-impregnated cloth that meets American National Standards Institute and National Association for State Textbook Administrators standards for C-Group bookcloth. Available in 16 colors. Well-suited to textbooks, reference, trade and library binding. CM amari—a bonded leather manufactured with 100-percent leather fibers. Available in four colors. Often used for Bibles, diaries, portfolios, hymnals and photo albums. CM amari plus also available, in eight colors, with calf embossing.
Cromwell Leather Group, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Products: Cromwell Bonded Leathers—comprising 300+ products from four distinct product lines (Taratan, Taratan II, Excel-Tan and Eurobind), designed to look and smell like Cromwell Genuine Leathers. Can be shipped in rolls or sheets.
Ecological Fibers Inc., Lunenburg, Mass.
Products: Rainbow Coated Cover Materials—solvent-free, manufactured with environmentally sound, water-based acrylic coatings. Available in a variety of prints, embossing, finishes and colors. Rainbow Book Cloths—paper-backed textiles featuring rich colors and consistent weaves.
FiberMark, Brattleboro, Vt.
Products: FiberMark offers 50+ brands, including: Beluga by Skivertex—a specialty material reminiscent of luxurious, aquatic leathers popular in the 1800s; Cheshire Linen Cover—a linen-finish cover stock with a durable matte coating; Iridescents by Corvon—a latex-saturated cover material with iridescent coating; Kensington by Skivertex—a “luxurious” bonded leather; Kivar Sutton—a lightweight, latex-saturated cover material that simulates the look of cloth; Silktouch Thermo by Skivertex—“the look and feel of soft, nubuck leather,” with a thermo-reactive coating; Suedel Luxe—a “velvety” faux suede; and Tacca Flauto—an alternative to leather.
Gane Brothers & Lane, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Products: Book Cloths—Gane carries more than a dozen book-cloth cover solutions, including: Arrestox/Roxite—a Group-B book cloth; Luminaire—a shiny, pearlescent Group-B product; and Silk Moire—a “shimmery,” paper-backed cloth material. Vinyl Products include: Virgin Vinyl, Clear Vinyl and Echo Line Vinyl, constructed of recycled materials. Pajco Products—durable, acrylic-saturated paper stocks, ranging from lightweight, premium cover materials to Lexotone 17, fine leather and textile simulations.
ICG/Holliston, Church Hill, Tenn.
Products: Coated Book Cloth—ICG/Holliston offers five brands of durable book cloths, including: Roxitec—an aqueous acrylic-coated cloth; and Pearl Linen—an aqueous-coated cloth. Starch-Filled Natural Book Cloths: Kennett Natural Finish Book Cloth or Kenlam Natural Finish Book Cloth (with a paper backing)—durable, has the look and feel of cloth. Sturdite—features a specialty coating on the fabric that simulates leather. Buckram Cloth (Optima E and Roxite F)—made with a fully coated duck cloth; often used in library binding and reference books, for which longevity and durability are required.
LBS, Des Moines, Iowa
(800) 247-5323 or (515) 262-3191
Products: Woven Cover Materials—comprising seven brands, including: LBS B-Cloth—100-percent cotton, cloth-dyed and coated with an acrylic pigment, and available in vellum and linen finishes; Verona—a woven rayon designed for strength and abrasion resistance; and LBS Buckram—made for strength from a polycotton blend complemented by an acrylic coating. Non-Woven Cover Materials: LBS’ Non-Woven line includes an array of colors, gloss and matte finishes, and embossing patterns, all designed for easy decorating with foil, blind-embossing, debossing or offset printing. Leathers: LBS carries two brands: Cromwell’s Taratan II—a bonded leather made from 100-percent cowhide leather fibers, with a “soft and smooth feel,” and leather smell, according to the company. LBS also offers Imitation Leather, which has a 100-percent cotton base and a skiver grain embossing pattern.
Product: Kalima Coated Cover C1S Plus—with a unique back-side coating, designed to be suited to foil-stamping, embossing, die-cutting, aqueous coating, UV coating or film laminating.
Products: Texlibris offers an array of cover materials to the book industry, including 100-percent biodegradable (and heavy-metal free) viscose, cotton and linen cloths, acetate cloths and synthetic materials.
WingWing America, Inc., Norwood, N.J.
Products: 02—designed to offer the visual and textural authenticity of genuine leather, and compatible with a variety of printing and finishing processes, including UV printing, silk screening, blind foil-stamping, laser printing and digital printing; Siduce—simulates the look and feel of genuine leather in an environmentally friendly product, according to the company, composed of specially treated paper from 100-percent pulp, coated with a polyurethane; and Fabric—manufactured by applying pure cotton to the cover material, and designed as an ideal solution for turned-edge books requiring durability; SILK Skin—produced by applying satin suede to the cover material, suited for embroidery and other needlework designs applied to the cover material.
Yupo Corporation America, Chesapeake, Va.
Products: Yupo Synthetic Papers—manufactured using 100-percent recyclable materials, available for book covers in weights ranging from 78 lbs. to 144 lbs.
Gretchen A. Peck is a freelance author who writes about the international printing and publishing industries.