Another of our ‘frequently asked questions’ here is about setting up the artwork for case bound book covers where the ‘hardback’ part of the cover is made from printed paper over boards.
Case bound (or ‘hardback’) books are made from three elements: text pages that are thread sewn in sections and then gathered together to form ‘book blocks’; covers, which are formed from three separate boards (front cover, back cover and spine) and a wrapping material; and endpapers, which are stuck down to the insides of the covers and the front and back of the text block and which help add strength to the book. The cover boards have to be wrapped in material of some kind: to protect them; to join them together to create one ‘case’ and, frequently, to carry suitable imagery or type about the book and its author.
The way book covers are printed has changed
Originally, covers were usually wrapped in cloth or hide, and any type of imagery required was created by foil blocking or die to stamp directly onto the boards. However, these techniques are both expensive and quite limiting in terms of what can be included. As binding techniques evolved it became possible to print on to standard grades of paper, laminate the sheets, and wrap them around the boards to form book covers which could be printed with pretty much anything you desired.
But here’s where laying it down can get a little tricky. The boards for casing in the text are usually larger than the text pages, so that when the book is bound they project a small amount out past the head, foot and foredge, protecting the text. Also, the paper which is to be wrapped around the boards needs to allow for ‘turn-in’, which is where the paper (as you might imagine) turns in over the edge of the boards and is stuck down. (Besides imparting strength to the books, one of the other functions of endpapers is to be stuck down in turn on top of the paper covers, creating a neat finish.) And lastly, there is in effect a hinge adjoining the spine at both front and back of the book, where the board that makes up the front or back cover has to be allowed some movement so the book can open and close freely.
So, when somebody is setting up the artwork for the covers for, say, an A4 case bound book, a number of things need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, the board size – on an A4 book these are likely to be 213 x 303mm (3mm bigger on foredge, head and foot). Secondly, spine dimension, which will depend on the number of pages and type of material being used for the text – in the illustration it is 12mm. Thirdly, any imagery you want to run to the edge of the cover will need to fill the ‘turn-in’ area where the paper is stuck down to the boards. This needs to extend 20mm in each direction beyond the edges of the boards. And lastly, an allowance needs to be made for the hinge area on either side of the spine – typically, this can be 4 or 5mm, but this can vary according to the type of binder that is being used. These hinges need to be thought about when designing the cover – particularly if any elements run close to any edges. It is possible to base the positioning of design elements on more than starting position, but which can give very different results.
Help with setting up the artwork for case bound book covers
Hardback book covers made from printed paper over boards isn’t an entirely simple subject. Yet with 30 years of experience, we will be able to guide you effortlessly through all the various considerations.
If you are publishing a book and need advice on setting up the cover, or any part of the reprographics process, then it makes sense to have an early conversation with us.
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