Perfect Bound: Fit for a "King"
Even the decorative cloth headband at the top and bottom of the spine—the thing lots of publishers just ask their printer to match to the color of the cover—was given careful consideration. “I had thought they were going to go with green,” said Spall. “When they selected yellow, I thought, ‘Man, that looks really good.’ That’s why they’re designers.” There is no additional cost for a colored headband, Spall notes.
The End is Just the Beginning
“A Hologram for the King” features textured, navy blue endpaper that provides a nice contrast to the bronzy cover material. “I don’t know why publishers don’t use custom endpapers more than they do,” says Spall, noting that, like headbands, the request is often “to match.” “I’d say about 10 percent of endpapers have printing or texture. The difference in cost is not significant, but it adds another layer of personality.”
The Die is Cast
The metal plate used to create the embossing—aka the blind stamp—went through several iterations (above). Earlier versions were less intricate. “I’m looking at one right now,” says Spall. “The text is kind of blocky, there’s none of that Spirograph type of design. There’s just a border and a little starburst. [McSweeney’s] may have been trying different types of design elements to see how [they] looked when stamped.” Spall says mulitiple rounds of test stamps allowed the printer and publisher to get things just right.
The back of the book is adorned with a removable sticker that features a synopsis and the price. “They do a lot of stickers,” says Spall. “On some of their books, they’re very specific about where the sticker should go. On my desk, there’s a [McSweeney’s] book cover with a picture of a tree and a sticker on it. They wanted the sticker corner to fall on one specific branch on the back of the book. We couldn’t do it through our line, we had to do that by hand. That specificity is one of the reasons that they’re great publishers.”