Pick a Cover, Any Cover
Choosing a cover-material supplier or deciding to switch to a new provider can seem like a game that we don’t know how to play. Knowing what materials are available and which would work best for the look and feel you are trying to achieve for your next book project can be tricky ... and even risky. A bad decision can break a book—after all, aren’t books judged by their covers?
Fortunately, representatives at most cover-material companies are available to walk you through the process helping you discover what qualities and features are most important for your needs.
“So many questions have to be asked and answered that all play a part in the final product,” says Kristine Aubrey, sales support/marketing manager at LBS, a cover materials provider located in Des Moines, Iowa.
Different publishers will require different providers based on the selection of titles it is producing.
“We listen to the customers’ needs to help them determine what is best for each title. … [and] what is most important to them,” Aubrey says. “For some it may be aesthetics, others longevity. No matter what, it is important to offer the best ‘fit for purpose.’”
Many cover-material providers agree that the book cover is usually the first impression for customers and deserves some investment in quality materials.
“Publishers looking for a change in cover material should ... consider the higher perceived value and price point possible from using a higher-quality cover material,” says Simon Riss, vice president sales of Cromwell Leather Group, a cover-material provider in Mamaroneck, N.Y. “In the long run, quality always counts.”
Jeff Carlson, vice president of marketing at Gane Brothers & Lane Inc., a cover-materials provider in Elk Grove Village, Ill., says he has seen some focus on money put into cover materials in recent years.
“Although the general trend has been to find lower-cost materials, several publishers are bucking this trend and using higher-priced material to set them apart from the competition,” Carlson says. “There are a multitude of different effects that can be obtained using coated, non-woven and cloth products.”
John Doherty, president of Cover Materials Sales Inc., a cover material provider located in Hyannis, Mass., says that if a customer decides to go with the cheapest materials, it can lead to manufacturing problems.
“Pricing is always a big factor in the many decisions that go into a project. One thing I suggest to publishers on the pricing of materials is that cheaper is not always better,” Doherty says. “We have found in many bindings a less-expensive material will not work for its intended use.”
Others caution that price is not the only consideration.
“Delivery times and inventory availability are also extremely important,” says Renee Yardley, director of marketing at Tembec Paperboard Group, a cover-material provider in Montreal.
If you commit to a type of material for your books, make sure that it’s not going to fall apart once it reaches the consumers’ hands.
“Many materials can be deceptive. … Be careful when considering a change in materials. … Make sure the material will work for its intended use,” Doherty says. “We have found that many flat-back bindings will fail at the joint with many of those ‘less expensive’ materials.”
Others believe that service and safety rank highest on the list of attractive qualities. Gary Snapp, national sales manger at Ecological Fibers Inc., a cover-materials supplier located in Lunenburg, Mass., says that customers should ask if suppliers are 100-percent acid-free, carbon-free and lignin-free. He also suggests asking whether the company uses any hazardous materials in its manufacturing processes.
“Involve your cover-material manufacturer at the beginning of a project,” Snapp says. “This will help you choose the appropriate material that meets your design and budget requirements, as well as your manufacturing time frame.”
He believes that publishers should take the time to visit a vendor’s facilities to see firsthand how the vendor produces quality, service and value.
“The knowledge that you gain will be invaluable,” Snapp says. “With that, you will be able to make better daily decisions, particularly when a special project arises.”
Kevin Archbald, vice president of sales at FiberMark, a cover materials provider located in West Springfield, Mass., believes that the most important factor when choosing a cover material is the supplier’s overall total package.
“Look at the value offered by the supplier—quality, price, tech support offered, customer service and speed,” he says.
At the end of the day, you know your projects and company best and will know what services rank highest in priority for you.
“Publishers should choose cover-material suppliers based on the supplier’s primary focus, resources and track record” says Riss. “When choosing a cover material supplier, the quality and consistency of the material and service from a particular supplier will often yield lower total cost of manufacturing a book than a lower-quality, lower-priced supplier.”
Cover Material Providers
The following are some of the cover-material providers currently serving the market and a look at the products they offer.
Product options: BN International stocks more than 550 items in the Balacron line of PVC coated papers and more than 100 items in bookcloths.
Customers: Sells worldwide indirectly to U.S. publishers through various printers/binderies.
Contact: (201) 476-0037,
Cover Material Sales Inc.
Product options: “Like our name states, all we do is cover material. …
We offer materials from inexpensive endleaf materials to coated papers
and cloths to some of the most
durable cover stock available,”
Customers: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Donald M. Grant Inc., Krieger Publishing Co.
Contact: (800) 225-7132,
Cromwell Leather Group
Product options: The company offers Cromwell Bonded Leather and Cromwell Genuine Leather. “We specialize in making only these products. … We are a fully integrated primary manufacturer, which means we make our own base-bonded leather and color coat in our own factories,” Riss says. “We do not use outside, third-party contractors. ...”
Customers: Zondervan Publishing House, Thomas Nelson Inc., Scholastic
Contact: (914) 381-0100,
Ecological Fibers Inc.
Product options: “Ecological Fibers Inc. offers over 30 distinct product lines …,” Snapp says.
“These product lines are complemented by our large range of embossing textures (more than 110) available for application to these materials.” According to Snapp, some of the company’s better-known products include Rainbow 80#, Rainbow 70#, Rainbow-3, Lumina and Lumina Pearlescent, Ultima-7, Excel, Rainbow-9, Rainbow-17, Arizona Bonded Leather, and the cloth products Brillianta, Sierra and Arlington.
Contact: (540) 554-2267,
Product options: Fibermark has a range of cover-material options including, Kivar 6 Colors, a 60# colored kraft paper with 100-percent virgin fiber, beater-dyed kraft in wide range of colors. Skivertex is a European-inspired, premium grade, simulated-leather covering material. Latex-saturated covering materials are available in 318 standard offerings. Hyflex is a white offset-printable premium covering material that is latex-saturated with acrylic-coated surface.
Customers: Random House Inc., Harcourt Trade Publishers, Simon & Schuster Inc.
Contact: (413) 533-0699,
Gane Brothers & Lane Inc.
Product options: The company offers Kivar 6 colored kraft as its most economical material. “For more durability and greater esthetic appeal, we carry many coated and embossed latex saturated, non-woven products,” Carlson says. “We also supply genuine cloth products when superior durability and color choices are needed. … For high-end cover materials, Gane sells bonded leathers, urethane-coated materials and genuine leather.”
Customers: Lightning Source, Bridge Publications Inc.
Contact: (800) 784-2462,
Product options: Different options include starch-filled cloth (Kennett), acrylic-coated cloth (Arrestox - linen and Vellum finish), Luminescent Cloth 9Luminaire), Buckrams, leather-like cloth (Sturdite & Imperium).
Customers: Scholastic and Simon & Schuster Inc.
Contact: (423) 357-6141,
Product options: “Publisher run lengths and deadlines are shrinking, so ... we’re equipped to meet those changing needs,” Aubrey says. “We offer a wide variety of coated or natural fabrics, latex-saturated papers and leathers.”
Customers: Health Communications Inc. (HCI)
Contact: (800) 247-5323,
Product options: Paulymark sells two different book materials through book manufacturers: graphic board and cross-grain chipboard.
Customers: Transcontinental and Quebecor World
Contact: (450) 469-3705,
Tembec Paperboard Group
Product options: Tembec Paperboard Group offers Kallima Coated Cover C15 Plus.
Customers: Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., Harcourt, Thompson Learning, The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Contact: (514) 397-3926,
WingWing America Inc.
Product options: “We have developed the world’s first revolutionary ‘Twin-Direct’ technology. … This patented technology integrates raw materials into the paper bonding process ... creating superior benchmark-quality cover materials with visual and textural authenticity,” says Dwight Kim, account manager at WingWing America Inc., in Northvale, N.J.
It has more than 600 cover-material designs available and all of its brands are environmentally friendly products using special paper of 100-percent pulp with special coating, depending on the product, according to Kim.
Customers: “This [article] will be the ‘unveiling’ event for us in the U.S., and we are looking forward to building a long-lasting relationship with the publishing community,” Kim says.
Contact: (201) 750-2215,
Product options: “Yupo comes in a variety of thicknesses, as low as 3.8 point, and as thick as 16 point,” says Marty Fiorillo, vice president of marketing and distribution and sales at Yupo Corp., an international paper provider. “We also offer a translucent synthetic in gauges of 3.5 point and 6 point.”
Fiorillo says that Yupo’s best categories for books are childrens books, cook books and education books.
“Because Yupo is waterproof, tear-resistant and scratch-resistant, it’s a fabulous choice for these applications.”
Customers: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Contact: (757) 312-9702,
- BN International
- Bridge Publications Inc
- Cover Materials Sales
- Cromwell Leather Co. Inc.
- Ecological Fibers Inc.
- Harcourt Trade
- Health Communications Inc. (HCI)
- ICG Holliston
- Lightning Source Inc.
- McGraw-Hill Companies
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Quebecor World Direct
- Random House Inc.
- Scholastic Inc.
- Tembec Paper
- Thomas Nelson Publishers
- Transcontinental Inc.
- WingWing America
- Yupo Corp. America