10.10.2023 / Frank Baier

Everything’s Possible with a Book

These days, some books are works of art in terms of their production values. Bookbinders pull the print product into shape in many different ways.
Normally, books are a question of cost-effectiveness for publishers, a cornucopia of imagination for graphic designers in ad agencies and a challenge in their own right for paper processors. In terms of the design and layout of books, the editors in industry and publishing houses often show a great deal of innovative spirit as well as creativity and skill. And not without reason, as the packaging plays a major role, as it does everywhere in retail. The best way to sell editions at the point of sale is via the title cover. But one thing is certain. In general terms, the external appearance, whether it is in hard or soft cover, the actual feel of the material, the colour scheme and finish of the cover, are all of great importance as is the case with other consumer goods.
We can identify the following trends with books at the present time:

  1. Design in the same colour scheme: Books and brochures are usually successful if their content, typography, finish, style and format form a unit. For example, front end sheet and back end sheet, typographical elements, headband and ribbon bookmark are published in the same colour.
  2. Various types of paper in one edition: Using individual sheet sections from various, even differently coloured papers, it is possible to emphasise certain contents within a book. Typical examples of this are standalone photo inserts in biographies. However, further processing is not that easy for the bookbinder.
  3. Several book cover variants: Hard covers are more expensive and of higher quality, while soft covers are cheaper and more functional. Printing companies often offer Flexcovers as an intermediate solution. Brochures with flaps provide more space for information, so ribbon markers are no longer necessary.
  4. Book cover finishes: No edition without an original book cover will make any money, e.g. with discreet foil lamination, selective varnishing or specific applications. Books today have to be eye-catching at point of sale; without a finish that guides you toward the content, this will not work.
  5. Sticker on the front cover: Such a sticker on the bottom right often has a circular shape and catches your eye really quickly with a signal colour such as gold or red. The label quite often refers to an award given to the title, certification of the paper or the publisher’s sales activity.
  6. Books with a layflat effect: Layflat threadless binding originally came from the photo book sector. This means 180° opening behaviour is absolutely certain when the book block is open and lying flat. On the other hand, the layflat effect is comparable to a book that is wire-comb or thread sewn.
  7. Presentable dust jacket: Dust jackets are not only intended to protect hard cover books from signs of wear and environmental influences – their cover flaps also provide enough room for publisher’s advertising, a directory of contents, details of the author and similar information.
  8. Banderoles and blurb: Matched to the overall design of a book, a piece of blurb can also be eye-catching. Graphic design along with printing allow for promotional impact. Transparent or coloured banderoles as a short dust jacket provide space for extra information.
  9. Printed full linen: Specifically in the fiction genre, but now also beyond that, there are individual titles and entire series of books, hard cover and soft cover books with directly printed and embossed full linen, which make an additional dust jacket unnecessary.
  10. Rounded copies: These days, round spines are increasingly preferred to straight ones. This makes a book more comfortable to hold in your hand while reading. Book covers with rounded corners are also widely available, for example, in children’s books and in the stationery range such as in notebooks.
  11. Gold edging and colour edging: Colour edging in books is experiencing a renaissance again. Previously known from the gold edge on bibles, works of various genres contain book edge printing, now with half-tone images that sometimes overlaps from the book block into the book cover.
  12. Integrated ribbon page marker: Increasingly, most hard covers contain at least one practical ribbon marker integrated into the book block. Which means you don’t need extra bookmarks. Ideally, the ribbon page marker will appear in the same colour scheme as the headband, front end sheet and back end sheet.
  13. Cassettes and slipcases: Exclusive and high-quality editions as well as works or series of books in multiple parts are presented, safely stored and well protected. A uniform design of the book spine and packaging can emphasise the intended design of the entire book project.
  14. Highlighting of sustainability: The book industry emphasises its efforts to conserve resources, especially in times of protecting the climate. The use of paper with FSC certification is mentioned more frequently. As is well known, the paper and printing industry has long been an example of a recycling economy.

Frank Baier
Editor-in-chief, Bindereport

10.10.2023 Frank Baier Editor-in-Chief «Bindereport»