Webel also suggests vibrant glossy and sheer satin firms for eye-catching covers, as well.
Publishers can use some or all of these technologies to gain a leading edge, but imitators follow, and fads fade. Cover effects that make books jump off shelves this year might not electrify sales next year.
"That's why we spend a lot of design time on cover ideas and research," says the senior director for design at a leading school publisher. "We're constantly trolling and sniffing for new techniques and combinations. There is almost nothing in printing or materials we won't consider."
This publisher, who declined to be named in this article due to competitive concerns, also rolls multiple head-spinning approaches together. For example, the publisher combined embossing with glitter and foil-stamped end-sheets for one of its most popular series.
"We pulled out all the stops with that program," she says. "The front cover had holographic foil, on which we put a six-color photo image, and then had a main image which was embossed."
Retailers say jazzy designs and materials have a decided impact on sales, but publishers can go too far.
"The value of an eye-catching cover in capturing additional sales all depends how well the design is executed," says Tracy Taylor, general manager of The Elliott Bay Book Company, a popular bookstore in Seattle, Wash. "It always helps with children's books. And it works with sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks."
But the 150,000-title giant, Seattle's leading bookseller, won't display an eye-catching cover advantageously unless they're also convinced the content merits it.
That said, covers with complex add-ons that get ruined when shelved spine-out will be displayed face-out. But that can be a risky tactic for publishers looking for an edge.