Tell me more about/point me to sources about book cover materials.
May 14, 2013 7:05 AM   Subscribe

It seems (could just be confirmation bias) that book cover/dust jacket materials have changed over the years. I find a lot of trade paperbacks and hardcover dust jackets now have a "soapy" feel to them rather than the previous plastic feel. What is this material? Is it new? What drives choices of materials?
posted by Jahaza to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The "soapy" feel may be "soft touch" lamination (one description of it can be found here -- though I found this just by googling so I'm not 100% sure that this is the same thing that I'm thinking of). One reason to use soft touch (I believe), especially on dark-colored covers, is that it doesn't get scratched up as easily.
posted by cider at 7:47 AM on May 14, 2013

Can you give a specific example or two of a book you think has that "soapy" feel? That might help us narrow down what you're talking about. For example, I noticed some paperbacks of The Hunger Games felt odd, like print-on-demand paperbacks, and just assumed it was a cost-saving measure, but don't know if that's what you're talking about.
posted by mediareport at 8:20 AM on May 14, 2013

I don't know if it's the same thing Jahaza is talking about, but I had a subscription to Lapham's Quarterly and noticed a change in the feel of their covers a couple years ago - it went from feeling like most other paperback books to having a sort of matte finish that felt a little more rubbery and sticky instead of smooth like it used to.
posted by LionIndex at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2013

I think cider has got it.

The most recent book I've bought that I noticed this with was the new Belknap-Harvard UP Algerian Chronicles by Camus. This is a hard cover.

I first remember noticing it on Indiana UP's trade paperback Kierkegaard and the Catholic Tradition: Conflict and Dialogue by Jack Mulder.

This blog post discusses the UK cover of Sam Byers Idiopathy and describes the cover material:
All of the covers are visually arresting, so work well on that level, but the UK cover also makes a lot of the book as an object. It’s extremely tactile. The gold foil gives it that ‘bling’ factor, but the soft-touch finish on the matt black makes it a really distinctive object to hold. Obviously, this week is the first time I’ve seen it in book shops and I have to say I think it looks phenomenal. There’s something about it that makes you want to pick it up, hold it, experience it in a very physical way. In this age of clicking on two inch jpegs in order to buy things, it’s easy to forget the importance of tactility, and the way tactility can create a sense of intimacy.”
posted by Jahaza at 8:32 AM on May 14, 2013

Matte laminated covers have been pretty common on trade paperbacks for at least 10, maybe 15, years, and I would describe them as feeling waxy or soapy to the touch. After some quick searching, it's possible that there are newer products like SuperMatt that have "a premium feel that’s very tactile, almost like rubber to the touch" and that's what you've noticed lately.
posted by stopgap at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2013

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