Coats and Many Colors
The same forces that dictate which clothing designer's spring line will garner the most retail attention—marketing, aesthetics and target audience—also influence seasonal buying trends. And while the debate withstands in determining the breadth of "good" literature based on either popularity or critical credibly, it's a fact that general reading audiences do judge books by their covers. As a result of the old adage, many book publishers and printers are developing ways of cornering consumers using unusual substrates and
production methods to enhance design, of which fine art photography is a common thread. The following titles are among a few fresh examples of how book publishing is competing with mass media glamour.
The Bonesetter's Daughter
by Amy Tan
Amy Tan is a writer with a keen sense of the past. Her novels, including the popular book-to-movie Joy Luck Club, have delved into not only 20th century Chinese-American culture, but also into a much richer social history in which women play integral roles. As a result, the latest cover for Tan's bestselling book, The Bonesetter's Daughter also reaches into several layers of print production with foils to demonstrate the complexities of creative heredity.
"The front [cover] and spine of The Bonesetter's Daughter jacket is printed in four-color process over a Crown Vantage 130 gold foil," explains William Peabody, vice president/director of production, Putnam Publishing Group. "The lamination is matte film and a spot gloss UV. The jacket stock is a standard 100lb. C1S, allowing for a slightly deeper embossing."
The image that appears on the jacket is a photograph of the author's grandmother, explains Ann Spinelli, vice president/executive art director at Putnam. She says, "It was taken in 1902 or 1904 in a studio in Shanghai." Spinelli explains that the jacket designer, Honi Werner, turned the black-and-white photograph into a four-color sepia image. The design was then sent to Phoenix Color for printing on a Heidelberg eight-color press after the foil department stamped the cover on a Bobst foil-stamping machine. The printing process, according to Paul Nardi, vice president of sales at Phoenix Color, was actually performed over the foil to achieve greater definition between mattes and
"After the covers were printed," says Nardi, "they went through a matte film lamination and spot UV on a Sakuri silk screen machine." The embossing department then created raised letters for the cover, which, says Diana Lomomaco, Putnam's senior production manager, is why they chose a heavier paper stock.
The result is a varied textural end product that compliments the books historical dimensions. But it wasn't easy, says Peabody. "In the beginning, we went through the design starting with silver foils," he reveals. He says
the team also considered gold before settling on the antiqued look that Werner conceptualized.
YES YOKO ONO
by Alexandra Munroe with Jon Hendricks
An open-minded affirmation for a veritable pop cultural casserole, Yoko Ono may bring to mind much multiplicity, but her performance and conceptual art has been ironed out into a new anthology from Harry N. Abrams and the Japan Society. Inside, the book chronicles Ono's art in word and image, whereas the cover boasts a stark, foil image of Ono's face as photographed by Iain MacMillian more than 30 years ago. The 352-page title's cover also includes a CD-ROM, which, according to the publisher, created additional production concerns.
Not only did the 100-year-old Italian printer, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.'s Printing Division, need to focus on the metallized image of Ono's face on the front cover, but the binding had to allow for placement of a CD-ROM within the cover slot. The interactive CD-ROM is not a surprising addition for either Abrams or Mondadori—both of which are dedicated to e-publishing. The book's printer recently signed an agreement with Microsoft to develop e-books and CD-based products for the Italian language market. YES, too, was digitally printed sheet offset, rotogravure and engraved.
At Mondadori, the book's paper and inks were chosen for quality control. Throughout color proofing, the photo-preparation process was tightly controlled and packaged to conform to production standards recognized by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
The design choices of YES also honor Ono's own multimedia approach to art as both a performer and visual artist. The book and digital supplement compete with a strong online presence and the e-book market. Accordingly, Abrams has a 50-year history of publishing critical theory art books in the same market, including a pantheon of monographs featuring old and new masters. Abrams publishes and distributes approximately 200 titles annually and currently has more than 1,500 titles in print.
In response to Abrams recent gem, a long-time associate of Ono's, Francie Schwartz, recently wrote, "My copy of YES YOKO ONO arrived via Federal Express last week, and the moment I cut away the different [color] layers of bubble wrap I nearly gasped as if the thing were radioactive and glowing like something in a John Sayles movie. The following night I went through the sections again and the indexes and bibliography and footnotes. It was like an acid trip for me … I own hundreds of art books, and this is the best I've ever had. … Yoko's face circa mid-'60s is gazing at me from its deep foil dust jacket."
by Henrik Drescher
"It's not just the cover, it's the whole thing," says Pamela Geismar, design director at Chronicle Books. "It has die-cut holes in the cover, exposed boards—and most novel for us—complex laser-cut inserts."
Turbulence is the visual concept of Henrik Drescher, an illustrator and childrens' book author. In addition to Turbulence, he's produced several hand-bound artist's books and notebooks with Canary Press. The idea behind this latest project is to make the artist's images more tactile for a much wider audience.
Beth Steiner, production coordinator at Chronicle, explains, "The spine of the book is actually a paperback cover that extends over the entire book block. The spine is the only part of the paperback cover that is printed. For the sides, we separately printed four-color on a gloss stock and wrapped that over 2mm boards. The boards are then adhered to the paper back cover. Thus the boards are raised higher then the spine." She says, "When we initially conceived of the binding, we were basing the binding style on another Chronicle title, Evidence. The difference between Evidence and Turbulence is that Evidence has no paper wrapping the boards, so you see the gray board itself."
In addition, Chronicle produced four circular die-cuts on the front cover to allow readers to look through it to the endsheet—a concept belonging to Drescher. The endsheet, says Steiner, is an elaborately designed four-color sheet. "The challenge that we have faced with this is to line up the die-cuts precisely with not only the case image, but also to make certain that the correct areas of the endsheet are shown through the die-cut," she outlines. "In addition. Turbulence contains several inserts. At each signature break, there is a laser-cut insert, cut from 80lb. Confetti cover stock-produced by Fox River PaperFox River Paper, which is then paired with a two-color printed vellum insert." The laser cuts were created by LaserExcel and then shipped to Hong Kong for the final binding by South China Printing.
The art was exclusively created by Drescher. Steiner says that by using a new screen color calibration system in cooperation with the film house, Bright Arts of Hong Kong, the artist could see color-accurate images on his computer screen before film was output—cutting down on proofing.
by Emily Rodda
According to Karen Fuchs, manufacturing manager at Scholastic, the bleeding edge isn't always the most palpable. Fuchs recently enlisted F.J. Warren in England, the only printer in the world that prints DUFEX, to perform the foil stamping process on its fantasy series, Deltora Quest.
"The process used to be popular with greeting cards," says Fuchs. "But it doesn't have a big market." She describes DUFEX as an "over-printed foil engraving." She says, "It takes a very simple paperback book and makes it look special."
The printer developed the embossing technique to add extra dimensions of light, movement and depth to prints, greeting cards, stationery and commercial applications. DUFEX is produced when images are printed on
aluminum foil-lined paper or cardboard using UV-formulated transparent inks. The inks on metallics create reflective shine. The printer's studio engravers
further add a range of light-reflective textures.
The cover of book one in the Deltora Quest series portrays an illustration by Marc McBride, designer of more than 50 books, magazines and ad campaigns. He cites influences from Andy Warhol to H.R. Giger (creator of the alien in Alien, the movie), both of which are evident in the first fantasy cover, "The Forests of Silence." The production goal, says Fuchs, was to showcase the details, which include metallic inks. "It makes the artwork jump out," says Fuchs. "It adds drama to the cover. It adds depth." She believes that book cover production is integral for catching the attention of consumers. "Unless it's already a popular book," says Fuchs, "you have to attract them somehow. It's the person's first impression."
The adventure in DUFEX is nothing new for Scholastic. For more than 80 years, the publisher has created childrens' books, the latest of which including the famous Harry Potter series.
-Natalie Hope McDonald
- Alexandra Munroe
- Amy Tan Amy Tan
- Andy Warhol
- Ann Spinelli
- Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.
- Beth Steiner
- Diana Lomomaco
- Emily Rodda According
- F.J. Warren
- Francie Schwartz
- H.R. Giger
- Harry N. Abrams
- Harry Potter
- Henrik Drescher
- Honi Werner
- Iain MacMillian
- John Sayles
- Jon Hendricks
- Karen Fuchs
- Marc McBride
- Natalie Hope McDonald
- Pamela Geismar
- Paul Nardi
- William Peabody
- Yoko Ono