"We may not order a book that causes us that much trouble," Taylor says. She points to a particularly irritating example. A design book featured an inflatable pillow on the cover, which staff was expected to blow up.
Then there was what Taylor calls "the worst eye-catching scheme ever": a trade paperback that came in a cereal box. Customers tore the box open to preview the book inside. The design stunt caused the product to flop in the marketplace.
Other things besides retailers' convenience are worth considering before a cover project kicks off.
"From a production point-of-view, it becomes critical to integrate consideration of the different effects into the development process earlier than ever before," says DePaul of The Lehigh Press. To make effective use of effects, a designer can't design the cover first and ask questions later, DePaul says. Graphics and effects must be rolled into the concept from day one. "It makes the project a collaborative effort between the publisher's design team and the component printer," he says.
But competition for readers' eyeballs will only intensify as the number of new titles expands, and printing technologies advance. This means materials and printing providers will keep pushing the envelope, looking for new techniques to wow shoppers.
One such effort is Phoenix Color's new Vibramotion process, which the company just launched.
"It's a brand new special effect that's show-stopping," says marketing manager Hartman. "The image changes aren't as drastic as lenticular. Vibramotion controls light with flashes and spins. At different angles the image looks different. It's mesmerizing when you use a rainbow holo foil on the stamper."
The Vibramotion effect is created through a proprietary process, not materials, and is price competitive with foil stamping and embossing, Hartman says.