Playing Dress-up: Is Your Book Ready for its Big Date?

By Sheila Parr

Sending a book to press is a lot like putting together the perfect outfit for a big event. Every piece of the ensemble must work together and complement each other nicely, and it’s the little details that make it really dynamite. If you want to be the hottest, baddest lady in the room, er, book on the shelf, think about these final touches before you head out to strut your stuff.

  • Headbands (those little strips of fabric at the top and bottom of the spine): I’ve been accused of being a purist, and it’s true that I often prefer my headbands to be solid, neutral colors and to do what they are meant to–cover the glue that holds the binding together. But sometimes it’s appropriate–or just plain fun–to jazz up the headbands with stripes or an accent color.

TIP: Fancy headbands rarely cost more than white or black ones, so feel free to be adventurous.

  • Case Covering (paper or cloth that covers the cardboard front and back covers and spine): Neutral colors are usually best for the case covering. Black, white, creme, and blue are safe bets. Consider the colors on the cover and determine whether you want the case to match or to contrast with the jacket’s dominant color.

TIP: If you plan to match the case cover with the jacket, remember to choose the case cover color first. Color options are more limited for case covers than they are for jackets, so it’s easier to match a jacket to case cover than vice versa.

  • Endsheets (inside front cover and facing page, and the inside back cover and facing page): A paper other than white or creme for endsheets can really make a book look finished. Black endsheets immediately add gravitas, bright accent colors from the cover ensure design continuity, and embossing endsheets with texture can create a polished look. Sometimes the best option is to use the same paper for the endsheets as for the case. Printed endsheets are great if you want to match a specific color or present a unique pattern or image. Of course–here’s the purist again–there are times when the perfect endsheet is white or creme—the same color as your pages.

TIP: Don’t forget to consider how the jacket flaps will contrast with the endsheets.

  • Spine Stamp (foil stamp on the spine of the case): The spine stamp is usually the last decision a designer makes before sending a project to press. It’s the extra blot of lip gloss, the last swipe of bronzer on the cheeks. Choose a foil that will contrast nicely with the chosen case covering. (My favorite case so far is white with bright magenta foil on the spine. Not appropriate for your general business book, but for girly relationship handbooks it’s perfect!)

TIP: Small type that can be printed perfectly on the jacket may bleed when it’s presented in a foil stamp on a textured case. If you’re not sure, ask your printer.

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