The numbers tell the story. There are 145,000 book titles vying for attention on bookseller's shelves. That's up a mere 3% over last year, according to market researcher R. R. Bowker, with little prospect for growth in this stalled economy.
Book publishers have limited options to capture the attention of buyers. One tactic is increasingly popular: a striking cover.
Vivid colors, metallic foil and inks, ultraviolet-cured compounds, 3D holograms, lenticular motion graphics—all are techniques finding favor with book designers and marketers.
Intended to grab the eye or titillate the touch, these design techniques stand out, attracting readers to the detriment of lesser-styled competing titles.
"Publishers are more inclined to raise the bar [today], and in a tasteful way, not just to do it," says Kelly Hartman, marketing manager for Phoenix Color Corp., a book component printer and manufacturer in Hagerstown, Md.
Analysts agree. "In view of this sea of book titles being published, you must have a cover that helps sell the book," says Andrew Grabois, senior director for publisher relations with R.R. Bowker, in New Providence, N.J. "Better yet, an eye-catching cover."
Grabois says interest in stunning cover designs and materials goes beyond retail stores, even impacting on-line sales. "On the Web you need an image, preferably a high-resolution one," he says. "Increasingly, that means not just the cover, but cover four, too."
It also influences cross-media branding. "That [cover] image is part of the branding of that title, from the cover to the Web page, to the belt buckle," says John R. DePaul, president of the publishing components division at The Lehigh Press Inc., in Pennsauken, N.J. "So design needs to work in several media and sizes, as well as dazzle the beholder."
BOLD COVERS FOR A BAD ECONOMY
It's not that these eye-popping materials, methods, and technologies are new, improved, or lower in cost.