Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ironing Out Details for a Hardcover Book

I've mentioned before that we're publishing our first hardcover trade title, The PITA Principle, this summer. We're in uncharted territory on a number of fronts, not the least of which is "How do you manage the details of producing a hardcover book?" We are so used to doing our softcovers that we are having to really study up to deal with the various aspects that are different for a hardcover, such as

  • Designing a dust jacket: In addition to the usual front and back covers, we need to have a front flap and a back flap. I did research at the bookstore to figure out which text goes where. And we have to get a special template from the printer to show us the dimensions to use. And we have to decide whether we want matte or gloss finish, or a combination, and whether we want to emboss anything (make it stick up) on the cover.
  • Picking a paper stock: We have to decide whether we want white or "natural," and how thick it needs to be to give us the spine width we want without going over the budget I set earlier.
  • Selecting a color for the hardcover: We can choose from just a limited selection, and of course none of the colors matches our dust jacket exactly. So we have to go with something that complements it.
  • Deciding whether to have a "spine wrap": That's the contrasting color band on the spine of some hardcover trade books. It costs more, so we're skipping it.
  • Choosing a finish for the cover: We have several textures to choose from, from flat to leathery to dotty to something that looks like cloth.
  • Finding a foil color: The title can be embossed on the front cover and spine using foil. We have to select the color of foil that looks nice with all our other colors and is readable. We've also decided to emboss just the spine and not the front cover.

Our challenge was to design the most appealing package for the audience without blowing the budget. I'm happy with the choices we've made and am now looking forward to seeing the finished book. But first...back to checking second-pass corrections on it!


Anonymous said...

Why did you decide that this book should be a hardcover instead of a paperback?

Lori Cates Hand said...

Good question! We observed that to get the kind of media coverage that could give us a big seller, we had to do a hardcover book. Generally the larger trade publishers put out their most important books in hardcover first. Later they might re-release it as a paperback, so the media has learned to regard paperbacks as "second rate."

The business section of the bookstore tends to favor the hardcovers. And this book is the first one we've done in many years that solidly belongs there rather than in the careers section. So it was a logical choice.