By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
“You can’t judge a book by its cover“ is a popular saying, usually meaning that you cannot judge a person’s character by their outward appearance. However when it comes to the world of books, it has a huge bearing on the success of the publication.
The relevance of the book cover or jacket as it is sometimes referred to, was highlighted recently by the release of a letter from the archives of that famous crime writer Agatha Christie – demonstrating that she knew that part of the success of her novels relied on attracting the reader to pick up her book in the first instance.
Christie had written a new novel based on her mythical Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and was awaiting publication in 1940, when the publisher sent her the design for the book cover to approve. She was a lady noted for her business acumen as well as her literary skills and wanted to be involved in every aspect of the process.
The book in question was called Sad Cypress. On reviewing the design for the cover, Christie wrote to her literary agent complaining bitterly about the job that her publisher had produced. “My idea was that a black and white jacket would be very amusing and striking. White shiny background and black silhouette cypress and big black lettering – don’t let Collins decide univocally [sic] on some frightful cover – their jackets [for] this book are AWFUL – so COMMON!!” She insisted on getting her way and having the book cover pulped and reprinted – concluding in her letter, “I care about the appearance of my books.”
The Pull of Great Book Printing
She was clearly a good judge of human nature, realising that the look and feel of the book would play an important part in the buying process – something that is perhaps also being highlighted today, with the continued growth in printed books against the tailing off of the rise in digital publications.
When you are buying a book on an e-reader, the cover is displayed in a small size and often in monochrome. So apart from telling you the title and the author, it does not have the same pull as a colourful illustration, with nice typography and the tactile effect of the paper used. Retailers who are giving the customer the opportunity to pull the book from the shelf and handle it, and even sit down and read part of it, are following Agatha Christie’s example and using the physical appearance as part of the selling process.
Printed book cover vs. e-book cover
Soon the Landa S10 press will allow book printers to add Nanographic Printing® technology to their armoury to print their book covers and inside pages. With a significantly increased colour gamut from CMYK compared to Lithography, with richer deeper colours and the ability to print on a much wider range of paper stocks than currently possible, the Nanography® process will provide printers the opportunity to enhance the purchasing experience for their publisher clients, while at the same time it will significantly reduce the printer’s cost-per-page.
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