In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive
Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographical Design
I have never been able to understand why cheap books should not also be well designed, for good design is no more expensive than bad
Allen Lane, The Life and Times of Allen Lane by Jeremy Lewis
It is often said that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but indeed we do. Design is the first thing that your readers will notice about your book, inside and out, and as the publisher, you are the creative director, from conception to creation, and you are fully responsible for the quality of the book that you produce.
"I've found designing directly for authors thrilling and challenging in equal measure"
Our appointed Art Director is Mark Ecob of MECOB design.
Mark has over 15 years experience creating covers for everyone from the biggest conglomerates to self publishers, including authors such as Iain Banks and Alexander McCall Smith.
We recommend and work closely with Mark and can put you in touch with him, project managing the relationship - we can be as involved as you want and need, but you are in very safe hands. Please see the services he offers below ...
If you already have a cover, but it needs to go that extra mile, our Art Director will take your draft and enhance the design for print and eBook for a small fee. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you’re happy before doing a thing and make you aware of any extras that we think could help your cover sing.
If your budget is tight, Bronze will allow you to access design expertise on a budget. You’ll help us fill in a design brief specific to your book, and we’ll send you two concepts for your approval. If you don’t like them after 2 sets of changes, you can pay a cancellation fee, but if you do we’ll take it to full artwork for your perfect eBook and print editions. All costs are included.
Silver offers Authors a publishing industry standard creative response to your Design Brief. The Art Director reads the book and will consult with you at every stage. Three original concepts are delivered to you, which you can tweak in three sittings. If you really feel they’re not for you, you can pay a cancellation fee. We’re confident you’ll love them, so after you've chosen one we produce full artworks to your specification, including both eBook and print editions. All fonts and images are included, but you can add more budget to get that perfect shot if you want to.
A completely bespoke service, including an in-person consultation with the Art Director and printer, and the option to use external Designers, Illustrators or Photographers to your Design Brief. Gold offers you the greatest choice and quality in international book design that money can buy, and we work until you’re 100% happy.
If you would like us to put you in touch with Mark, please contact us and we can help you fill out your design brief.
A great book can be compromised by poor textual design. Text that is poorly laid out, hard to read with tight margins, may cause your readers difficulty reading. As the publisher, you should make the reader experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for your reader, so that they are absorbed and swept away with the narrative, rather than struggling to read the text on the page.
We now offer in-house typesetting services for text only files, with a selection of different fonts and layouts to choose from to make sure your book is professional inside and out!
For more complex typesetting for titles with interior images and charts, we can put you in touch with the right people who will provide you with an excellent service and typeset manuscript.
If you would like to get in touch about typesetting, please contact us.
Production practicalities: beautiful on the outside, beautiful on the inside
Although we don’t want to drive the decisions that you make, we will give you guidance as to how to make commercial decisions about the design and format of your book. Retailers like to stock books that will sit neatly alongside the rest of the books on their shelves, and if a retailer was to look at your AI sheet and notice that it was an odd format, they may be less likely to order copies of your books.
The most widely used of these formats is the B format paperback and is probably what your own bookshelf is full of. The format that you chose is closely linked to the retail price that you want to charge. For example, customers may be willing to spend more on a B format book than an A format book, and a Royal format book than a B format book.
The 4 UK industry standard sizes for trade books are:
A Format: 178mm x 111mm
B Format: 198mm x 129mm
Demy: 216mm x 135mm
Royal: 234mm x 153mm
If you have had any previous experience with other printers or suppliers you may have been offered imperial measurements different to those above. These are often US sizes and whilst they could be suitable in international markets, imperial sizes may not be so suitable when trying to sell into the UK market. While we can produce books to various sizes, industry standard sizes are also more economical to produce.
We have a variety of bookwove papers ranging in weight and brightness.
Our standard book papers range from 52gsm (grams per square meter) to 80gsm and generally speaking, the heavier the paper, the better the quality. Higher grammage papers tend to be more opaque, and therefore there will be less show through of the ink on the reverse of the page that you are reading.
Different papers are suitable for different types of books and we can recommend the best paper for you. The physical properties of the paper will have a big impact on the weight and the bulk of the book, which may also affect the cost of carriage if you intend to distribute the books yourself. Furthermore it will determine the spine-width that will in turn have an effect on the cover design. We are more than happy to send out samples.
The extent refers to the number of pages in your book.
It cannot be an odd number and extents are calculated in multiples of 16. If the extent of your book sits outside our standard extents we will round it up to the nearest multiple of 16 with your approval. For example, if your book had an extent of 200pp, we would round it up to 208pp and there would be 8 blank pages at the back of your book.
The spine width is essential to the production of your book.
Both the text paper that you choose and the extent have an impact on the spine width of your cover. The spine width also plays a key role in the cover design; if the spine width is too narrow then the design on the spine of the book will spread onto the front and back panels of your cover design. Likewise, if your spine width is too wide, then the design from the front and back panels of your cover could run on to the spine.
We have created a spine width calculator to make this a straightforward calculation that you can do yourself: Spine width calculator
We have a large range of cover finishes that can be applied to your book but these are just the basics.
We will talk you through them to help you to decide the best option for you. All of these cover finishes can be applied to both paperback and hardback jacketed books.
Varnish is a cost effective finish that offers overall protection and coating to the printed cover. It is clear and provides a gloss or matt finish.
Gloss Varnish - Gloss varnish is a lacquer that we can use to coat the cover. It protects against general wear and tear and gives a high gloss finish to your cover.
Matt Varnish – Matt varnish is the same process as gloss varnish but instead of being shiny, it provides a more subtle matt finish.
Lamination is a plastic film in various finishes that is applied to the entire printed sheet to create various effects.
Gloss Laminate – It is very high impact and hard wearing. It makes colours more vibrant and offers a high level of protection to books.
Matt Laminate – It gives a subtle and tactile finish to your cover. It doesn’t provide the same level of protection as gloss lamination but it is a more popular choice due to its smooth quality finish.
Soft Matt Laminate – Similar to matt laminate it has a premium feel and is extremely tactile, like rubber to touch.
There are additional choices that you can make about cover finishes if you decide to print a hardback book. Cases can be covered with a wide range of materials but the following are the most commonly used and the most cost effective.
These special cover finishes are great if you are looking to produce special editions of your book.
All of these special cover finishes do incur additional costs but are worth it if you are looking to create limited special editions or looking to create not just a book, but a beautiful object. The cost of making a block for foiling and/or embossing is quite high, so for runs of under 1000 copies we would suggest sticking to standard cover finishes such as varnish or laminate.
Spot UV - this is where we apply gloss varnish to a localised and specific area of your cover, for example, the title or an image. It is particularly effective when used against a matt laminate cover finish due to the contrast of matt and high gloss.
Foil blocking - this is the process of applying a metallic foil to your cover and available in a range of colours. The process of foil blocking is done on a foil-blocking machine where heat is used to stamp the foil onto the surface of the cover via a brass block.
Embossing - Pressure is applied to the cover board using a die to distort the surface and raise a specific area for greater emphasis or to create a textured effect.
De-bossing - De-bossing follows the same process as embossing but rather than raising an area it creates a hollow or dip.