Why Paperback Book Covers Look Different Than The Hardback Versions

SF Signal points to Tor’s Art Department’s blog to answer a question that I’ve always wondered about.

It’s a good excuse to talk about why paperback back books look different then their hardcover littermates. Basically, a tremendous amount of paperback books are not bought in bookstores. They are bought in supermarkets, pharmacies, airports, or, as the ads say, “wherever books are sold.” People don’t often go to these places to seek out a particular book, they go there to buy toilet paper, aspirin, and to catch a plane. So, we need to grab someone’s attention away from their primary task…being toilet paper, aspirin, and death defying air travel. Anything with a bit more glitz has a better chance at this. The type gets bigger, the quotes get more emphatic, and if it’s a book we are really trying to push, the type gets, as Toby put it, bumpy and shinny…otherwise known as foiled and embossed. Occasionally we will even do what’s called a die-cut. That’s when you print two covers, the outer one with a little hole in it to reveal a detail of the inner cover. I find the popularity of die-cuts comes and goes, they are very costly and often get damaged in shipping.