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.

Book Printing Cost, Book production, Self Publishing

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.

Additional Services, Book production, Design

How to Craft the Perfect Foil Stamp Book Cover

Foil stamping is one of the oldest methods in the world to make a book shine, and it’s one of my favorites. Used for hundreds of years, foil stamping can be found anywhere from traditional, high-end books to new and innovative cover designs.

What is foil stamping?

Foil stamping is the process where hot metal foil is pressed into the cover of a book using a stamp. You might hear it called foiling, embossing, debossing, or stamping.

How are books foil stamped?

Foil stamping starts with what we call the die. For our dies, we use solid copper created in the exact shape of your design.

book design foil stamp

When it’s time to stamp your books, hot metal foil will be put on the die, and then the die will be pressed hard into the cover of your book. The heat and pressure make the metal foil stick to the book permanently. 

Because we create a custom die for each book order, you can stamp anything you want on your books. You have an unlimited choice of fonts, designs, illustrations and choices. I love this because it gives each author a chance to make their book look unique. Seeing the new foil stamp designs is one of my favorite things!

Sometimes we receive a stamp design and know immediately it’s not going to get great results. Because we care about the quality of your books, we’ll always make sure to let you know if something looks off with the foil stamp. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re daydreaming about your design.

Three tricks for excellent foil stamping

  1. Use thick lines or thin lines, but not both.

The thicker a line is on a foil stamp, the harder the stamp has to be pressed into the book. When thick and thin lines are mixed, the thinner lines are pressed so hard that they expand and obliterate the design.

foil stamp cover example

This foil stamp uses text and a signature, and keeps the line thickness in the same range. As a result, all of the lines are crisp, none of them are muddied, and the stamp looks refined and classic.

2. Watch out for the small stuff—literally.

When it comes to printing your book, small details are no problem. You can include small fonts, little lines, and all the details in the world, and your book will still look fantastic. But because foil stamping is pressed, not printed, those small details have a tendency to change from intricate designs to messy blobs. The smaller the detail, the more likely this is to happen.

foil stamp closeup

This doesn’t mean you can’t have small details. This book has plenty of small lines and dots, and ends up looking fantastic—it’s one of my favorites from 2021 so far. The key thing here is that there’s room for those lines to grow without bumping into each other. A great foil stamp design is one that has medium to large font and good spacing between details.

3. It can be complex—but it doesn’t have to be.

Simple doesn’t mean boring. These books used different approaches—one an image, and one a simple title with matte black foil—to create book covers that would pop out on any shelf. The foil stamp for your cover can be anything you want, but the best foil stamps are designed with simplicity in mind. This lets the cover design shine.

Designing for Foil Stamping

If you do have a complex design, or your design absolutely needs multiple colors and intricate detailing, don’t give up hope. A printed hardcover with 3D Spot UV is a great alternative when a foil stamping design doesn’t fit.

Ultimately, the thing that sets great foil stamping designs apart is that they’ve clearly been created with foil stamping in mind. When an author is writing a book, they’re spending a lot of time in the digital world, worrying about commas, plot points, sentence structure, and how to get Microsoft Word to mirror their margins. When it’s time to print the book, some authors make the mistake of staying in that digital world. But a book is more than the files you send in; it’s a physical object, and things like fabric choice, paper stocks, and line size play a big part in how the final books feel.

foil stamp book examples

I recommend taking some time to peruse a couple books at your local bookstore. Peek under the dust jackets of your favorite hardcovers or grab a new softcover book and you’ll find stunning foil stamping waiting for you. As you take a look at what other authors have done, you’ll have even more inspiration for what you’d like to do.