Virtually all of the products and processes publishers are now using to make new book covers stand out have been available for years.
What has changed: The U.S. economy. Publishers are now willing to invest in higher-cost covers to gain a competitive edge.
With consumers and schools pinching pennies, and more titles than ever competing for their dollar, a flamboyant cover can make all the difference.
"Publishers were very cost-conscious about cover printing," says Jeffrey Burg, marketing manager at Visual Systems Inc., a Milwaukee producer of book components and ancillary products. "Now they're willing to spend significant dollars in covers."
One of the most striking and talked-about new cover design technologies is not the most widely used. But a new manufacturing process is getting the attention of publishers, and could thrust it into the mainstream.
The hot topic of discussion: Lenticular graphics, the modern cousin of the little plastic cards and rings buried in Cracker Jack boxes decades ago. Those primitive toys displayed a multi-frame animated graphic when the card or ring was flipped to and fro. The result was captivating for kids.
Now lenticular technology promises to highjack the attention of ambling shelf-browsers with unexpected flutters of animation and movement on book covers.
Two of lenticular's biggest boosters are Outlook Group Corp., a packaging and label manufacturer in Neenah, Wis., and materials inventor National Graphics Inc., in Brookfield.
Outlook Group recently produced and applied four unique animated lenticular covers for The Beatles 40th Anniversary Tribute, a digest-sized picture book published by American Media Mini Mags Inc., in Boca Raton, Fla. Each Beatles tribute has a different lenticular cover. At first glance, all appear to feature a group shot of the Fab Four.
But walk by the book, or pick it up and turn it slightly, and the image of the band fades away, replaced by a head shot of either John, Paul, George, or Ringo. It's a striking effect sure to captivate any die-hard Beatles fan.