Design, Marketing, Self Publishing, Book production, Book Printing Cost

How to Choose the Right Book Cover Finish: Matte vs. Gloss vs. UV

When I’m in a library or bookstore searching for my next adventure in reading, it’s a total sensory experience. From the smell of paper to the feel of the cover, choosing a book becomes about more than just the content on the page. Part of this experience is the cover finish on a particular book. Whether it’s the glossy art book or a matte novel, the cover finish you choose will affect how a reader perceives your book.

The type of cover finish you choose should be considered in tandem with cover design since it will complement your cover artwork. Think about the visual impact of your final book as well as how it will feel to the touch. Whether it’s on a living room coffee table or on a bookstore shelf, the right cover finish can be the difference between your book being noticed or not.

The three most common cover finishes for books are UV Coating, Gloss, and Matte. They are all terrific options, each with its own benefits and appeal depending on your book.

UV Coating

If you’re looking for a cost-effective cover finish, you can’t go wrong with UV Coating. UV Coating is a liquid solution poured onto your cover that is then cured using ultraviolet and infrared lights. This cover finish will give your book a bit of a shine, and will help protect your book against curling. It won’t peel and is more pliable than other finishes.

If your book’s cover is a solid color or a dark cover, you may notice smudges, fingerprints, and scuff marks more easily with UV Coating.

UV Coating is the best option if you want to keep your production costs low, or you want a look somewhat between gloss and matte. This finish option is versatile, making it a terrific choice for genres from fiction and history to textbooks and manuals.

Gloss Lamination

Gloss lamination is a reflective film that is stretched across your book’s cover. Gloss lamination provides increased shine and surface protection. This durable cover finish option will repel fingerprints or smudges, and is easy to wipe clean if it comes into contact with dirt or dust.

Books with a gloss laminated cover finish have a smooth texture and polished look that will enhance your cover by giving vibrancy to your photos and artwork. The reflective surface will surely grab attention from a bookshelf or coffee table.

You should choose a glossy finish for your book if you are looking to make a high impact, if your cover design is bright and vivid, or if you are looking for the most protection from scratches or dirt for your book. Gloss lamination is also reasonably priced if you are looking to upgrade from UV Coating. If you are interested in adding a premium feature like metallic printing, gloss is the best choice to pair with it.

Popular genres with gloss lamination include textbooks, cookbooks, art or photography books, and children’s books.

Matte lamination is a film overlay that results in a muted look for your cover and a velvety texture. Matte lamination offers a pleasant tactile experience and has an overall softer look. The less reflective overlay gives a more natural look to cover art, with a lower contrast on darker colors.

One of the benefits of matte lamination is that it is resistant to small scratches and scuffs. While wear and fingerprints are more readily absorbed with this finish, it can be more susceptible to stains and spills.

Besides producing a pleasing texture, this cover finish offers a unique, distinguished look. Where glossy books may be more common, one with a matte cover will really stand out from the crowd. For our 3D Spot UV premium feature, matte lamination is the way to go. 3D Spot UV is a raised and reflective overlay that contrasts beautifully with the muted look of matte lamination.

We see matte lamination used often for history books, memoirs, or poetry books.

How to Choose the Best Cover Finish for Your book

When deciding on the cover finish for your book, take into consideration your genre and intended audience. Browse your local bookstore for similar books and see what speaks to you. Whether you use film lamination or UV Coating, each style will have different impacts on the colors and artwork used in your cover design. The finish affects the visual and tactile experience of shopping or reading a book, as well as the perceived quality and value of your book.

What cover finish will work best with your project? Call us to talk about your lamination options! Jennifer and I can discuss the vision you have for your book and help pick the best choices for your cover finish.

Self Publishing, Book production, Book Printing Cost

The Best Binding Type for Your Book – Pros and Cons

A few months ago I moved into a new apartment.  Some of the first boxes I tackled when I was unpacking were my 500+ books. I organized them by spine color, creating a wall of book art in my living room.

As I placed each one I was struck by the different feelings each book evoked. We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if we’re judging favorably, is it such a bad thing? Each spine, whether a beautifully illustrated softcover or a timeless, foil-stamped hardcover, spoke volumes.

One of the first questions we ask when speaking to an author getting ready to print their book is “What binding style would you like?” Often a client will have this answer at the ready; in other cases, the author has not considered this before. Don’t let this decision get you in a bind!

Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding between hardcover, softcover, or spiral binding.

Hardcover Books

Hardcover Book Binding

Pros of Hardcover Book Binding

  • Printed hardcovers (with a color image wrapped around the front and back) offer a high impact look.
  • Clothbound hardcovers with foil stamping have a classic look. Additional features like dust jackets and ribbon markers make it easy to imagine your book on a library shelf!
  • PUR adhesive binding makes these books extremely durable.
  • Hardcovers are long lasting and make great keepsakes.
  • Premium features such as custom foil or cloth colors, embossing, and custom endsheets will take your hardcover to the next level

Cons of Hardcover Book Binding

  • Hardcovers are more expensive than other binding styles.
  • Production time is 4-6 weeks.
  • Hardcover books dos not lay completely flat.

Softcover Books

Softcover Book Binding

Pros of Softcover Book Binding:

  • Softcovers are light and portable.
  • They are extremely cost-effective.
  • Shipping will be less expensive due to the soft cover and uncoated paper, which is more lightweight than coated paper.
  • There is a quick turnaround, most orders taking 5-10 business days in production.
  • Plenty of premium features are available, like 3D Spot UV, metallic printing, and embossing, help make your softcover book stand out.

Cons of Softcover Book Binding:

  • Coated paper stocks are incompatible with softcovers.
  • The perfect binding may not have the elegant feel of a hardcover book.
  • Softcover books do not lay completely flat.

Spiral Bound Books

Spiral Book Binding

Pros of Spiral Book Binding:

  • Opens completely flat or folds backwards.
  • Many different colors of spiral to personalize your book.
  • Wire-o binding is an inexpensive upgrade for a professional, polished look.
  • Several premium features, such as foldouts and inside cover printing, are available for spiral books!

Cons of Spiral Book Binding:

  • Page counts larger than 450 will not work with spiral binding.
  • Spiral books may not have the polished feel of a softcover book.
  • When shelved, the book title is not visible on the spine.

I recommend letting your book’s genre and intended audience guide you when deciding on a binding style. A cookbook or journal is perfect for spiral or wire-o binding. If your project is a family keepsake meant to be passed down to future generations, a clothbound hardcover will last for years and look fantastic on every bookshelf. And you can’t go wrong with a softcover for the majority of genres, from novels to coloring books to photography books. If you are hoping to reach a wide base of customers, softcover books are reasonably priced to produce and you will be able to pass those savings onto your readers.

Take some time to peruse your own bookshelves or favorite bookstore for books with similar genres to yours. You will get plenty of inspiration when choosing which binding option is best.

Jennifer and I are available by phone or email to discuss your project and use our knowledge and expertise to help you find the right fit for your book!

Book Printing Cost, Book production, Self Publishing

What to Look For in a Book Printer

Before I joined the Gorham Printing team, I had some experience printing my own books as gifts and creative projects, and found myself swimming in a sea of options. I had worked at bookstores and seen thousands of books, so I knew what I wanted mine to look like, but I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate that to the printers. There were more options than I realized, and all of those options had consequences I didn’t fully understand.

Now that I have more experience with book printing, I have a better idea of what I’m looking for, but if I had to go back and start fresh, this is what I’d tell myself about finding the right book printer for a project.

1. Type of Printing

Every printer is different, but there are different categories of printing, and if you know what you’re dealing with, you can better anticipate what the process will look like. There are three key words to look out for.

Print-On-Demand. This is the kind of printer I worked with for my first book. These printers are fast and flexible. The real benefit of print-on-demand is that they can print one or two books at a time, whenever you need. Because they print quickly, the quality is not always excellent, and the options may be limited.

Offset Printing. If you’ve picked up a book at Costco or Target, chances are, it was printed using offset printing. Offset printing presses are suitable for printing thousands or hundreds of thousands of books. It has a high set up cost because it involves metal plates being made for your book, so if you only want a hundred books, offset printing will break the bank. But if you’re looking to print a hundred thousand, offset printing is the way to go.

Short Run Printing. Short run printers are perfect if you want high quality books but don’t want ten thousand of them. With quality similar to offset printing, short run printing usually takes a little longer than print-on-demand, but the end result is a longer-lasting book. These kind of printers will sometimes have more options than POD (print-on-demand) because POD printers streamline their options to keep their production times fast.

2. Production Timelines & Quality

When I ordered my first book, I needed it quickly. It was a present and I had procrastinated. So I was excited when I saw I could have my books in as little as a week through a POD printer.

For my latest book, though, I planned ahead and went with a short run printer. There are a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is quality. Sometimes quick is critical, and this works perfectly for many projects. When you look at production timelines, it’s important to remember that the timeline can speak to the quality.

3. Finished Product

One thing I really wish I had known when I started printing books is to ask for a sample. At the time, I thought it’s paper and text; how many options are there?

The answer is a lot.

From the quality of paper to the type of printers used to create your book, each component has an effect on the finished product. Depending on the book printer you work with, the same files and book could come out any variety of ways. When I started printing, I had a specific feel I wanted for my books, but didn’t even know the questions to ask to see if that was possible. The best way to get a sense of the quality of your finished book is to request a sample of a similar book the company has printed. This will let you test the strength of the binding, the quality of the paper, and the way the book feels in your hands. You can also use it as a jumping off point to ask questions about the ways you want your own book to be different or similar.

Closing Thoughts on How to Pick a Book Printer

As a writer, I know that a book is the result of hard work, many cups of coffee, endless rants, and who knows how many sleepless nights. Writers work hard, and giving that hard work to a book printer can be nerve-wracking. For any writer, I would suggest picking a printer—specifically a book printer—you can work with long term who will help you find the right options for your book. If you’re not sure about whether a certain printer is right for you, the best way to find out is to give them a call and ask.

self publishing guidebook

Want to see a sample of our print quality? Click Here to request our new guidebook. It’s designed and printed here in our shop in Centralia on the same papers and printers as your books, and is full of helpful tips and tricks for self-publishing your own books.

types of paper stock
Book Printing Cost, Book production, Design, Self Publishing

How to Choose the Best Paper Stock for Your Book’s Interior

What paper should I use for the interior of my book?

With the amount of time it takes to write, edit and perfect a book, it’s easy to understand why paper stock is a commonly overlooked aspect of book making. In addition to pricing, paper stock plays an important role in how a reader approaches your book.

The best way to understand paper stock is to divide it into categories. In this blog, we’ll be looking at the paper stocks commonly used by industry book printers for interior pages.

interior-paper-stock-book-printing

Coated Paper vs. Uncoated Paper

One of the first choices authors are faced with when choosing a paper stock is coated versus uncoated. As the name suggests, coated paper is paper that has been coated with a mixture of materials or a polymer. With toner-based printers, the image quality of coated and uncoated paper is virtually the same.

Depending on the type of coating, coated paper can take on a number of textures and finishes but in most cases will have a less porous, waxier surface than standard, uncoated paper. Common finishes include:

  • Dull: Also known silk, dull coating is a non-reflective finish that gives your pages a softer look and feel.
  • Glossy: This reflective coating can add a level of pop to images in color, making it a great option for art or photography books.

However, coated paper also has its drawbacks. Coated paper does not adhere well to the standard adhesive used in softcover book binding. A somewhat more expensive PUR adhesive option must be used. The weight of the book can also become a factor. Typically, using a coated sheet will add about 30% to the overall weight of the book making it more expensive to ship as well as slightly more awkward in the reader’s hands  Additionally, coated paper’s somewhat reflective surface makes it both difficult to write on and hard to read in harsh lighting due to glare.

Uncoated paper, on the other hand, is the popular choice for softcovers (paperbacks) and most text-based books, such as novels, textbooks and journals. This option imparts a more traditional look and feel to your pages. Uncoated paper typically offers a wide range of textures and colors to choose from and is the best option if you intend readers to write or make notes in your book.

White Paper vs. Natural Paper

Many people assume that paper is naturally white; however, this is not the case. The wood pulp commonly used to make paper undergoes a bleaching process, which determines the color and brightness of the paper. Brightness refers to amount of incident light reflected from paper under normal lighting conditions.

Most printers will offer both white and natural uncoated paper options. Also known as “warm white,” natural paper is a minimally bleached paper type that appears cream in color. This is a great choice for authors wanting to convey a softer or historical feeling with their books.

Alternatively, the color of white paper can be compared to that of the copy paper used by most home printers. This paper color provides the most contrast for black/white text, making it a popular color choice for most books today.

types of paper stock

Choosing Your Paper Weight

For the purposes of book printing, uncoated paper is typically offered in weights between 50lb and 80lb. For reference, 50lb uncoated paper can be compared to the weight of standard 20lb bond copy paper used at home. Deciding the best paper weight for your book depends on a number of factors:

  • 50lb Uncoated: At the lowest weight, 50lb uncoated paper is the best option for conserving spine width and thickness. This weight is commonly used in textbooks, manuals or books with ~600+ pages.
  • 60lb Uncoated: This weight is the most popular paper stock choice and often considered the “sweet spot” for most books. 60lb paper is strong enough to protect your book and flexible enough to be held comfortably for long periods at a time.
  • 70lb Uncoated: Being slightly more opaque than traditional stock, 70lb paper helps prevent your book’s content from being seen through your pages. This is especially useful for books with a lot of color images.
  • 80lb Uncoated: Typically the thickest option available, this sturdy weight paper should be considered for image-heavy books with low page counts, such as photography and art books. However, books using this weight will be slightly stiffer and more difficult to hold open.

Coated paper is usually offered in 80lb or 100lb options. As with uncoated paper, the best choice is determined by the intended purpose of the book. Lower weights offer higher flexibility and reduced thickness. Higher weights increase both your pages’ opacity and durability.

Other Considerations

In addition to the above qualities, you may also want to consider:

  • Sourcing: More and more book authors are looking for printers that use responsibly sourced paper. Consider choosing a paper stock that is either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Certified, or Rainforest Alliance Certified.
  • Acid-free: In the past, the acidic qualities of the wood pulp used to make paper caused pages to naturally yellow and deteriorate over time. Today’s paper is in most cases acid-free due to a shift in the fillers used in the paper making process. Average paper grade has a life expectancy of 500 years. Higher grades of acid-free paper, sometimes known as archival quality paper, have a life expectancy of 1000 years. Paper at this level will often be made from acid-free cotton pulp.

Knowing more about paper types allows authors to be creative with their choices. Take a few minutes to explore the custom options available in our quote generator to see styles and pricing for your next book.

Contact us to request a free paper sample booklet