AddMe - Search Engine Optimization Book Printing Forum: More Information On Book Covers

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Information On Book Covers

Yesterday’s posting about book cover design clearly points out one thing—it is best to work with a good cover designer. See April 10th’s posting for a list of designers with whom I have worked successfully.

Once you understand the elements of good cover design, then it is important to understand what prints well on what types of presses. Each press has its different characteristics. As a book printer, it is up to you to communicate those characteristics to the designers with whom you work. A cover designer should know to limit using large solids on the cover. They are harder to print, especially on digital presses. If a large solid is required, try to break it up with background noise to make the color easier to print. Likewise, selectively use gradients when printing. They, too, are harder to print. If a gradient is required, make the steps of the gradient closer together. In other words, don’t go from a 0% color to a 100% color in the gradient. Instead, go from a 40% color to a 80% color.

Consider other ways in which you can be helpful to publishers. Trade books require an ISBN number—by definition that’s what makes them a trade book. Industrial books benefit by having an ISBN number because the ISBN gives the book more credibility to the buyer and preserves the possibility the book may be sold in a store some day. The publisher is responsible for obtaining the ISBN number, but you may find with first time authors and publishers, they don’t know where and how to get an ISBN number. ISBNs are sold by R.R. Bowker Company ( They are sold in blocks of ten numbers. Purchasing information is listed on the web site. An important change is happening with ISBN numbers in January 2007. The required ISBN code will change from 10 digits to 13 digits. From January 1, 2007 forward, all ISBN numbers, EAN codes, etc. will require the 13-digit format. Publishers reprinting books should be reminded of this transition.

Coat the cover to improve its durability. There are three types of coatings available: aqueous, ultraviolet (UV) and film laminate—priced in this order from least expensive to most expensive. An aqueous coating is the least expensive choice. The coating is added at the time of printing. It adds to the books luster, but one downside is that an aqueous coating rubs off, especially in transit. Two books packed in a carton may smear ink on each other if protected by an aqueous coating alone. A UV coating provides protection from the sun as well as adding luster to the cover. Like aqueous coatings, the UV coating can rub off. Film laminate offers the highest protection against rubbing. It also provides some moisture resistance. Film laminates come in gloss, semi-gloss and matte finishes.

Book cover design is the prevue of the designer, but it is important for the book printer to know something about good design, too. Working closely with a professional designer and following these simple rules for non-fiction books will improve the book’s chances of selling well and returning for a second, or even third, printing.


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