Lustrous Beacons Enchant Buyers
The right typeface makes elegant prose more pleasing, and striking cover art can stop consumers in their tracks. Nothing new there. Indeed, such traits have always seduced book lovers. But now, thanks to breakthroughs in foil and hologram production, some book covers reflect an ongoing technical revolution.
In particular, hologram pioneers are adding a new dimension to the science of making a striking book. But there are pitfalls, as well as thrilling changes, facing those publishers who hope to make use of these technologies.
A New Age for Covers
Joseph Funicelli, president of Unifoil Corp., Passaic Park, NJ, says that since its introduction to the book market at a BookTech trade show in 1999, Unifoil has received a lot of attention—and many orders —from book printers.
Unifoil offers two specialty products: UniLustre and Holographic UniLustre, metallized papers with distinct uses. The former is a reflective sheet of a solid color, typically silver, while the latter is a sheet with a three-dimensional holographic image on it.
Unifoil's production procedures distinguish its stocks from those of other vendors, say company officials. In preparing these papers, Unifoil takes a stock, which can be as thick as a 38-pt. board or as thin as a 25-lb. paper, and applies aluminum to it in layers three-millionths-of-an-inch thick. After the holographic image is ap-plied, the book surface reflects light according to the layout of the diffraction grating on that surface. It will keep this reflective quality, since the aluminum doesn't chip or flake.
Unifoil's papers are adaptable, fairly immune to cracking or flaking, and lightweight, with a relatively low concentration of aluminum. In contrast to aluminum foil, for which trace heavy metals average 10 ppm, Unifoil's papers average only 0.1 ppm. Their disposal, even in huge quantities, poses no threat to the environment, Unifoil officials claim. The company views this as a crucial fact in light of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to single out source reduction as key to lessening America's solid waste.
Besides providing stock for the cover of the December 2000 issue of Contract Pharma and for the annual report of the insurance giant John Hancock, Unifoil recently supplied holographic boards for covers of Scholastic Inc.'s popular Animorphs book series. Written by K.A. Applegate, the books complement the popular television show. Viewing the covers, with light bouncing off the title and the author's name, it's easy to see why the demand for these fantasy books soared among younger readers.
Given the schedule for this smash series—new installments hit the stores as often as once a month since the series took off—Unifoil had to send the products to the printer, Wisconsin-based Serigraph, at a fast clip. This seems to be no problem for Unifoil's vast New Jersey operation, which is keen on making further inroads into the world of book publishing. It may come as a surprise how affordable such products are. Funicelli says the cost of using UniLustre and Holographic UniLustre is only two to three times the cost of traditional papers.
Finished Foil Products
Filling orders at a fast pace is also a priority for Paterson, NJ-based Crown Roll Leaf (CRL); its officials claim to turn out more than 60 million linear feet of finished foil products per month. If you want a stock holographic pattern for your company's annual report or brochure, and don't want to spend too much, you can order CRL's trade-marked Retail Vision Pixel-Grafx stock.
For other products, such as books, you can order one of the firm's many holographic stocks or a custom hologram." That was the choice made by the children's books division of Bantam Doubleday Dell (BDD) in 1997, when it set out to launch its wildly popular Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear series.
The division had never before produced a book with a hologram on its cover, and it told the printer that before the job could move ahead, samples of the 10-pt. C1S covers had to undergo review not only by BDD, but also by filmmaker George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. The covers not only met with approval, but BDD went on using CRL-supplied holographic covers for later books in the Galaxy of Fear series, for which an average print run is in the 1 million range. As with Unifoil, the cost of generating holographic covers with CRL goes down as the quantity goes up, a fortuitous fact for the publishers of the cherished Star Wars books.
A New Approach to Holograms
If your prime concern is your book project's production schedule, Brian Monaghan, president of Chalfont, PA-based Interna-tional Holo-graphic Papers (IHP), says his company can turn out holograms "more than 400 times faster than any other holographic technology. "We have the only computer-to-plate (CTP) holograph system available," Monaghan explains. "We output digital Photoshop files directly to iScan ... for economical, highest-quality, large-format holographic images." This method ensures IHP's clients a scheduling edge. One of the products of which Monaghan speaks with pride is the O'Neil Inter-national holographic date book; on which you'll find a custom-designed hologram.
Thanks to this cover, IHP is (as of this writing) a finalist for the 2000 International Hologram Manu-facturers Association Award of Excellence. Although the process followed by IHP is vastly different from that of other hologram providers, prices are still within range for many publishers. Monaghan predicts that the cost of a typical 85-lb. text sheet, 28x40-inch custom hologram ranges from $.75 to $2 a sheet, depending on the size and quantity of the job.
The breakthroughs in the science of holograms can make it easy to overlook the pitfalls facing those who wish to make use of it. Apart from the potential environmental issues tied to throwing away non-satisfactory holograms, a number of problems may arise during production.
Frank McDermott, sales representative, Serigraph, which en-listed the help of Unifoil to provide covers for Scholastic, says project managers need to be aware of registration problems that often crop up during the embossing of holograms onto substrates. During the making of covers for Animorphs books, says Mc-Dermott, "We checked more frequently to be sure we're consistently printing in register." Instead of checking the typical one-in-500 covers, Serigraph employees proofed a cover at 200-piece increments.
According to Monaghan, "Holographic films and laminates can create difficulty in printing, flatness and press feeding, foil stamp ability and general converting. "Holographic paper," he adds, "is just that, paper. It prints, cuts, folds [just like other papers do.]" But no matter what technology you use, says Monaghan, holographic materials not only require the right climatic conditions, they must undergo careful checking before they go to press. "[If I were a book production manager,]," Monaghan in-structs, "I would want to see a prototype of what my hologram would look like."
Sophisticated readers may not judge books by their covers, but we often notice them that way. Thanks to the innovations of a few fearless leaders in the industry, it has now gotten easier and more affordable for book publishers to attract readers with the wonders of terrific foils and holograms.
Michael Washburn is associate editor of Thames and Hudson, a New York City-based book publishing company.