There's a reason one of the world's most popular maxims is, "never judge a book by its cover." That's because everybody judges a book by its cover.
Traditional or fancy, plain or electric, simple or three-dimensional, a cover says a lot about the text inside, and the imprint (and printers) behind it.
Last issue's cover story on how publishers are using eye-catching covers to boost sales and improve positioning on retailer's shelves was an instant hit with readers, because publishers know that great covers sell great books. That's why they design them to stand out and be judged.
The high level of enthusiasm for this topic convinced us we needed to produce a follow-up article, and fast. After considering how best to approach the subject anew, we decided to invite some of the industry's leading manufacturers of book cover materials to give us their take on the latest products and best practices for using them.
Ultimately we identified 20 major providers of book cover materials. We invited them all, via e-mail, to write 300 to 500 words for an "upcoming cover materials roundup."
Their assignment, should they choose to accept it (in the end, eight did): tell Booktech readers what's hot in cover materials; what's coming next; provide tips, suggestions, best practices, and gotchas for using their recommended materials in production; and to include their standard corporate marketing pitch.
Regardless of the materials they offer, it takes but one rewarding project to convince a publisher of a new material's worth. The right material will wow readers in terms of appearance, texture, quality, and perceived worth. That undeniably increases sales in every channel, except electronic (for obvious reasons).
The right material can reduce costs while keeping perceived quality high. In other cases, costs go up (a premium material is a premium material), but their impact on sales and the publisher's quality reputation, other things being equal, can justify the expense.
So here they are, in alphabetical order—Circle, Burlington, Wis.; Coverluxe, Woonsocket, R.I.; ICG/Holliston, Church Hill, Tenn.; Kimberly-Clark Technical Paper, Roswell, Ga.; Lehigh Press, Pennsauken, N.J.; National Graphics, Brookfield, Wis.; Permalin Products, New York; and Phoenix Color, Hagerstown, Md.
It's a representative sampling of the industry's most innovative cover material and component providers, sharing their spins on the latest cover materials, usage scenarios, and manufacturing practices.
HARDCOVERS ON BOARD
George Scovronski, VP of Sales
Circle Inc. has been converting paperboard materials for 25 years, specializing in heavyweight board used for industrial packaging applications.
Although we are new as a coverboard producer, we apply the same quality converting principles used in the past to build strong relationships in the book industry. We listen to our customers and prospects, learn their needs, and find the means to provide solutions.
Circle currently manufactures spines, backing boards, and three major classes of coverboards:
• Brown Bear Book Board, a medium-density pasted chipboard that's consistently smooth, clean, and flat.
• Binders Board, a high-density wet-lap board used for library binding and other high quality applications.
• Euro Board, a low density, soft fiber, European-style graphics board.
Circle understands the quality of our finished products depends on superior raw material. Our mill suppliers use ISO standards to produce consistent grade reproductions.
Our precision converting includes our operator's hand inspection at in-feed and packaging stations. We do this every day, on every order.
Having an excellent product is only part of being a quality supplier. Our creative production and stocking agreements make certain our customers get the product they want, in the quantity they want, when they want it. Circle is adept at working with short lead times, in addition to running both large and small volume orders.
We will stock unfinished materials for a customer, so lead time from a mill supplier is eliminated. We can block out machine time on a daily or weekly basis, so customers can predict exactly how to plan their binding orders.
For customers working with predictable sizes, our unique consignment programs ensure that coverboard is always on their site when they need it.
The large volume of uncut coverboard we stock enables us to run an efficient ratio of trim loss. If something is needed fast or in small volume, cutting from a proper master size will be nearly as cost effective as high volume orders.
So for high quality, quick turnaround, and a choice of materials for your coverboards, please choose Circle Inc. as your preferred supplier.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Paul Zompa, VP Sales & Marketing
Coverluxe was born only eight years ago. Since its inception, Coverluxe has provided alternative covering materials to the book, stationery, and fancy packaging providers already being serviced by well-established competitors.
Coverluxe products complimented those being produced from its sister company Flock Tex Inc., a global player in the luxury packaging industry for 34 years. Both companies are independently owned and operated family businesses.
Coverluxe initially piggybacked on Flock Tex's established customer relationships and distribution system, and began developing book and binding covering products for them.
Coverluxe first created the Coverluxe trademark when it introduced its proprietary version of a 9 pt. leatherette product. Through this entry, Coverluxe established market recognition in the cover material industry.
Shortly after Coverluxe was launched, concern about consolidation among publishers and printers, and reductions in market demand, became common. Buyers started looking for lower cost 9 pt. alternatives. Coverluxe responded to the market buzz by introducing Coverluxe Lite.
This product distinguished itself from competitors by offering a thinner saturated substrate, maintaining the same rich finish as the original 9 pt. Coverluxe, and meeting customer product requirements for binding strength and high fold.
As book production decreased, demands for aggressive pricing and lower cost cover alternatives rose. Coverluxe developed its Coverluxe EconoLite in response. It pairs the same substrate as Coverluxe Lite with a more economical coating.
It's a combination that makes truly attractive cost savings possible. Coverluxe EconoLite gives publishers and binderies an economical alternative, yet continues to deliver a saturated quality covering material for superior product performance.
Today, with a portfolio of durable, flexible, and attractive cover materials, Coverluxe is satisfying the requirements of renowned brands such as Cartier, Waterman, A.T. Cross, Parker, Swatch, and Dunhill.
In the publishing industry, Coverluxe products are preferred by many religious, trade, and yearbook publishers. Book, binder, and slipcase manufacturers worldwide are using Coverluxe solutions.
Coverluxe also offers custom and premium products in a variety of heavy weights and specialty coated substrates, through its Coverluxe 17, Coverluxe 22, Coverluxe Ultima, and Coverluxe Endsheet products. All can be custom color matched, and inquiries regarding custom work are invited.
As an independent company, Coverluxe continues to exercise its flexibility to cultivate new vendors and materials to meet our customers' evolving product specifications.
These actions have aided not only Coverluxe in its development of these listed products, but also the binding and publishing industries. By considering Coverluxe, publishers and manufacturers have another supplier to consider, and new materials to select from.
Certainly increased competition and greater binding options benefits publishers, binderies, and the industry as a whole. As consolidation continues, options and choices become crucial to customers who want to maintain competition in products and pricing.
Coverluxe products are offered in the United States mill direct, and through designated distributors. Coverluxe also provides coverage overseas for publishers and manufacturers, through its agency network.
THE CLOTH ALTERNATIVE
Joann K. Scherf, VP of Marketing
Hardbound books are the norm for first-edition trade, professional, university, and coffee-table books. Book publishers and manufacturers have several options of coverstock materials for use on the hardbound cover.
There are basically two primary decisions when designing a hardbound cover: (1) what cover materials to use, and (2) how to decorate the cover to achieve the desired image, make a statement, and get noticed.
Choices for hardbound books include cloth (in ICG/Holliston's view, the ultimate in appearance and performance), coated saturated papers, coated papers, and uncoated papers. Each is available in many different colors, some with different looks and textures.
Several important factors must be considered when choosing the cover material for the hardbound book. The sum of these will point the book designer in the right direction.
The designer or other decision-maker first goes through a mental exercise evaluating their needs in the areas of look, durability, and cost, weighing each factor for its importance in the specific application.
The use of cloth as the cover material reflects the need for high durability, good value, and the exceptional look and feel only cloth can provide. Again, cloth is the material of choice for many prestigious trade books; for university and professional press; and exquisite coffee table editions.
Cloth products are available in cotton, cotton/synthetic, and rayon constructions. Most selections are available with either an environmentally friendly coating, or a paper backing that aids the casing operation.
The paper backing, or coated cloth back, each serve the function of keeping glue from penetrating from the backside to the frontside of the cover material, creating an unsightly look.
Cloth covering materials also offer the option of a natural finish, which gives the true look of woven fabric, and the tactile feel associated with cloth. When a coated material is chosen, the amount of coating applied can vary from a light coating that allows the characteristic cloth weave to show through, to a fully coated surface.
In fact, when cloth is fully coated and embossed, it can take on the look of leather. ICG/Holliston offers our Kennett brand natural finish cloth, Arrestox and Pearl Linen brands coated cloth, and Sturdite brand leather-look cloth. These represent the full spectrum of coated cloth options and are, quite honestly, the standards of the industry.
A wide variety of cloth colors are also available, along with several embossing patterns. Pilot facilities, such as the ICG/Holliston plant in Church Hill, Tenn., can be used to create narrow webs of any custom color desired.
ICG/Holliston has served a leadership role in setting the standard for color pallet offerings. Our participation in the Color Marketing Group, in Alexandria, Va., an international association of 1,700 color designers, has led to the introduction of many new colors in our Arrestox and Kennett cloth lines, and others will follow.
Foil stamping is the most widely used means of decorating natural cloth finishes, and a number of decorating techniques can be employed on coated materials. Typically one thinks of screen printing, foil stamping, and even appliqués on coated products. Several types of coated cloth can also be offset printed.
Once the cover material for the hardbound edition is chosen, the construction of the cover becomes the next important issue. The construction must meet the end-use needs of the book, and for certain editions, industry specifications might apply.
This can include NASTA (National Association of State Textbook Administrators), LBI (Library Binding Institute), or ANSI (American National Standards Institute), depending on the book's intended use.
In order to deliver a hardcover book with maximum longevity, the cover material, reinforcing components, and how the book block is anchored to the case play an integral role. If any or all of these aspects are not considered, even the strongest cover material won't compensate for poor quality construction.
With the cover material and usage being equal, books produced using a diligent manufacturing process will last for years. Those produced without attention to all crucial aspects of the manufacturing process will literally fall apart in a few weeks or months.
In a nutshell: when constructing the hardbound cover, it's as important to select the right suppliers and construction processes as the cover material itself. The best suppliers can serve as technical advisors throughout the process, to ensure the final book is of the highest quality possible.
That's certainly the case here at ICG/Holliston, the oldest supplier of cloth cover material, and the industry leader. We offer publishers and printers the largest selection of cloth cover materials available anywhere.
And our dedicated sales, customer service, and technical personnel are available to work with our customers every step of the way, to ensure each and every cover project meets or exceeds expectations.
A NEW CHAPTER IN
Gary F. Sweeney, Market Manager
Today, if textbook cover material is to meet the needs of publishers and manufacturers, it must also satisfy a rigid set of manufacturing standards and specifications developed by the National Association of State Textbook Administrators (NASTA).
In consultation with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Manufacturer's Institute (BMI), NASTA maintains a set of physical standards of quality and performance for elementary and high school instructional materials.
These include textbooks, related educational materials, bound, unbound, kit or package form, and technology-based materials. While these specifications are intended to guide the manufacturer, publisher, textbook administrator, and the general public, they also present a challenge to cover material manufacturers.
It's a challenge that's been met by our EPIC II brand graphic cover material. EPIC II has been specifically engineered to meet all NASTA specifications for Type II covers, classes A through E. A unique combination of latex coating and saturating yields a flexible, durable cover material that distinguishes this product from other offerings.
In addition to meeting NASTA standards, EPIC II also offers exceptional strength and tear resistance. This is crucial for textbooks, which must endure years of intense use, constantly being opened, closed, and abused by students.
EPIC II offers other outstanding characteristics textbook publishers and manufacturers can appreciate, starting with its exceptional whiteness and brightness. It also eliminates the requirement for film lamination. Even so, Kimberly-Clark recommends prepress trials, to ensure your requirements for specific projects are met.
The addition of an aqueous or UV topcoat provides scuff resistance and durability for most every application. EPIC II cover material can be printed on by offset presses for those applications where fold endurance and repeated handling are required.
Finally, and perhaps most important, EPIC II is competitively priced, and can be delivered in rolls or sheets.
EPIC II is but one member of a family of similar latex-saturated printable products manufactured by Kimberly-Clark specifically for the book industry. It's the product of choice for titles that must support NASTA Type II specifications for textbook manufacturing.
Simply put, EPIC II has been engineered to last as long or longer than the textbooks it covers. Due to its exceptional strength and durability, EPIC II is not a material you would specify for a soft cover throwaway.
Essentially, EPIC II is the difference between a disposable Bic pen and a Mont Blanc heirloom. The Bic you use and throw away. The Mont Blanc is a keeper.
As a $14 billion Fortune 100 corporation, Kimberly-Clark has the resources and experience to develop saturated papers and other cover materials to meet the diverse needs of the textbook industry.
The company's Technical Paper Division has the capability to apply extensive manufacturing, R&D, and technical support for this line of products. EPIC II Graphic Cover Materials are among our most recent, and clearly outstanding, results.
THE LEHIGH PRESS
THE COVER FACTOR
Eric Roberts, Director of Graphic Technologies
For many Booktech readers, a trip to the local bookstore isn't just about buying a book. If that's all people wanted to do today, they could simply point their Web browsers to Amazon.com, BN.com, or any other book e-tailer.
Going to the local bookstore is about more than just conducting a transaction. It's an event. The steamy, frothing cappuccinos are enticing, but that's only the beginning of the bookstore's sensory selling experience.
The local bookstore also permits shoppers to browse, hold, touch, scrutinize, admire, and appreciate bound books. It's an experience as enjoyable to the average bookworm as it is to the book publishing professional.
What grabs a reader's attention first? The cover, of course. Readers judge, perhaps unconscientiously, a book's beauty and quality on the basis of what they see first.
It starts with the actual material. The choice in modern cover materials is wonderfully broad. Materials that emulate suede, leather, denim, or even stainless steel are easily accessible, and cost effective.
Effects that can't be purchased outright can be created through innovative techniques available at many leading printers. Indeed, there are actually printers today who specialize in nothing else but producing award-winning covers (call me; I'll be happy to refer you to one
On the creative side, the latest technologies present many opportunities to embellish and differentiate your design from all the others. But be forewarned: there are clear technical rules designers should observe.
Failure to heed these rules will cause your designs to take longer and cost more to produce and, worse, might fail to deliver your intended design effect. Let's touch on some of the best practices:
• DO involve your printer as early in the design stage as possible. Get the outside experts involved in your project; they are the ones with the experience. Designing-on-the-fly can become expensive, even perilous. A knowledgeable printer will set expectations and provide accurate estimates for cost and turnaround.
• DO ask your printer if the spot UV will work with a matte lamination, or if embossing a particular area will be appropriate. When you are using a unique paper or multiple decorating techniques, be prepared to ante up for the press proof. WYSIWYG is not exclusive to the digital workflow. What you see on a press proof is "exactly" what will be wrapped around your book.
• DO keep your audience in mind. For example, children's books have unique criteria. You can forget about applying a decorative UV to a children's title. That's a big "no-no," because safe and non-toxic materials are an absolute pre-condition for kid's books.
• DO budget for turnaround times. Special items usually require special lead times. There's no sense in designing for a material that won't be available for six weeks, unless you budget for that turnaround.
• DO consider how your book design will be handled. If you're applying matte lamination on a black background, there's a good chance the covers will scuff as they rub against each other during shipping. These issues are often overlooked in cover designs. Plan to shrink-wrap or specially pack the books, or be prepared to accept scuffed books. Likewise, a gloss lamination will show fingerprints on dark backgrounds. This is harder to circumvent, so design with this in mind.
• DON'T get all your paper choices from your printer. I strongly suggest designers build relationships with the paper manufacturers for an added edge. The professionals representing cover material and paper companies are notoriously creative; tap into them! Be conscious of selecting the correct substrate for the correct marketplace. For example, an elementary school title has requirements that are different from a trade or college title.
• DON'T expect a selected paper to do what it can't do. You shouldn't try to emboss on a stock that's too thin, or try to fold a stock that's too rigid.
Cover materials and decorating techniques evolve like trends in automotive design or fashion. To stay in vogue requires deliberate research and effort.
Look around. You're surrounded by people who are equally passionate about the craft of book design. Maybe we should start a support group. Let's just leave out the 12-step program.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE NEW LENTICULAR
Mike Brooks, Chief Marketing Officer
Lenticular technology has been around and steadily maturing for years. It's come a long way from animating secret decoder rings in boxes of Cracker Jack. Today, lenticular graphics are used to create stunning animated advertisements, posters, business cards, promotional items, and more.
While lenticular printing is being used effectively on covers of books and magazines, it's always a tip-on. Now imagine a lenticular substrate so thin it can be used as an entire cover, like a silky skin flowing over the front, back, and spine.
Visualize a magazine logo and other text spinning, swirling, moving around the cover; or a back-cover advertisement with animated headlines and copy, changing colors, morphing fonts. Picture visual elements in a three-dimensional space, without the unsightly artifacts associated with holograms.
Think about a stunning 3D background, with design elements—photos, models, illustrations, picture-in-picture—independently animating concepts, product features, and benefits. These are huge additions to the publisher's and advertiser's design arsenal for the presentation of high-impact ideas.
Stop imagining, because the future of lenticular has arrived, and is available today for book and magazine covers. This momentous lenticular breakthrough for printed covers is dubbed the Crystal brand lens. It's the latest lenticular innovation by the specialists at National Graphics Inc.
National has long been recognized for its premium Extreme Vision brand lithographic lenticular work. Extreme Vision is more than imaging. It's a precisely calibrated system that tunes the patented imaging to National's growing lens design portfolio with their unique method of printing.
National has created many of the lenticular industry's firsts since it started working with lenticular in 1994. Because the company's sole business is lenticular, on-going R&D and constant improvements are crucial to maintaining our leadership position.
At .007 and 200 LPI (lenticules per inch), our Crystal brand's high-definition graphics are far more refined than the coarse mainstay of the lenticular industry, a 75 LPI lens at least .018 in thickness. (Incidentally, National developed the 75 LPI lens in 1995, but didn't patent it. It was the first commercially available thin lens, and became the global standard.)
National recently began a technology development relationship with Quad Graphics, in Pewaukee, WI, one of the world's most successful printers of magazines, catalogs, direct mail, and other commercial products.
For about 10 years, Quad has operated a small division quietly working on lenticular. This group developed intellectual property in the web printing of lenticular, and this led to Quad regularly producing promotional lenticular projects, mainly for outside brokers.
As Quad's customers gained experience with lenticular's capabilities, and witnessed its impactful benefits first hand, they started asking for a lenticular solution that would work for magazine and book covers.
Quad couldn't comply (nor could any other printer, for that matter), because of in-house imaging and thick lens technology limitations. The introduction of National Graphics' Crystal brand technology changed that equation.
Quad and National have jointly developed a new technology, dubbed Crystal Web, a litho-web variant centered around National's Crystal brand lens and National Graphics' Extreme Vision brand imaging technology.
Quad won't say which of it's publishing clients will be first to wrap a Crystal Web brand cover around its pages. But the solution is available today through both National and Quad. Now magazine publishers and advertisers can exploit spectacular, never-before-seen visual effects available with lenticular.
Book covers are next. However, there remains some development work to do in the area of hardback covers, principally with adhesives. And being plastic, the question of mixed stream waste will be an issue for shop floor management, as Quad's people have discovered.
But for publishers and advertisers who want to astound readers with cover graphics that meet or exceed the visual threshold of electronic media, the Crystal brand lenticular lens is your ticket to ride.
COVERS' HOTTEST LOOKS
Victoria Fogarty, VP of Marketing
Beyond strength and durability, the material that you choose to cover your book needs to express the look, feeling, or image you want to convey. A book has a certain character, whether it's reserved, snazzy, or trendy. Whatever the mood, your book needs to look great!
Some of the hottest looks in cover materials are available through Permalin Products. From tried and true favorites like our Permalin, Multicolor, and Iris, to newer offerings such as our Esprit, Balacron, and Chromo, Permalin offers a product for every situation.
One growing trend is interest in contemporary looks. This year we introduced Chromo, a futuristic-looking cloth that combines cool pastels and jewel tones with shimmering metallics. Chromo's high-tech look lends itself to binders, journals, albums, and high-end books.
You'll also find several ultramodern looks in Balacron. Brushed metals, silvery swirls, and glitter-dusted colors are just a small selection from Balacron's 500 available cover material treatments.
Balacron in particular provides options for another fashionable trend: reptilian embossings, which have slithered into the forefront of fashion on date books, journals, binders, and boxes.
Whether you choose crocodile in bright red, yellow, or blue; or cobra in cream, olive, or black, reptilian skins are in!
Speaking of skins, Permalin's genuine leather and bonded leather are the ultimate in elegance. Premier Pigskin's soft hand gives sophistication to deluxe books, bibles, and albums.
In addition to reptilian looks, dozens of unusual patterns are available, both deep and smooth. Colors can be custom matched, milky or bright, metallic or pearlescent—there's no limit to the looks you can create.
For those high end projects with exceedingly tight budgets, our Feora Bonded Leather provides a lower cost version of the real thing. Whatever you can do in Premier Pigskin, you can do in Feora.
Technological advances in cloth come to bear with our Duo product. The iridescence and liveliness of this fabric are obtained by weaving together two vibrant colors.
This vivid textile is, in our opinion, the most innovative cloth to ever hit the book industry. Covers for art and coffee table books literally come alive with any of Duo's 17 color combinations.
We're also responding to customer demands for an economical colored end-leaf and side panel material. Our answer: Esprit. High in quality and aesthetics, Esprit caught on quickly, and is working its way to the top of the charts.
It's stocked in 13 low priced, high-fashion colors (including the most popular, black), and Esprit is available in large quantities on demand.
How do you choose from such an enormous selection? Easy. Just give us a call. As experts in cover materials, we'll provide you with all the available options appropriate for your application.
We'll work with you, from start to finish, to help you communicate the image that will make your book project a hit. Think of Permalin as a resource for all your book material questions.
Kelly Hartman, Marketing Manager
Great cover designs and materials really do impact book sales. Frequently, book buyers will pull a book off the store's shelf simply because the cover or jacket caught their eye.
In keeping with our tradition of providing publishers with innovative and attractive cover materials, Phoenix Color recently introduced it's trademarked VibraMotion brand effect, the newest addition to our award-winning line of special effects.
With this new special effect, only available at Phoenix Color, publishers can add depth, three dimensionality, and motion to book jackets and covers, with eye-catching flashes and spins that change at different viewing angles.
This exclusive, patent pending technology creates various pleasing visual effects on many different substrates, including standard white papers, metallized papers, foil stamped substrates, holographic foil stamped substrates, and Type II paper stocks.
The VibraMotion effect is most dramatic on dark colors, solids, gradients (vignettes), and highly reflective substrates (i.e. foils and holographic foils). The effect is more subtle when used with pastels and light colors, unless used with foils. It's not recommended on white areas, and textures in register with color changes.
Phoenix Color has a variety of VibraMotion patterns available. These effects can also be customized to artwork (additional fees apply). Check out VibraMotion, and see how this exclusive technology can make your book jackets and covers get the attention they deserve.
- Rich Levin