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January 23rd, 2014

Book Cover Stock Options for Paperback Books

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by David Rogers

The book cover stock you choose for your paperback book does more than just impact the visual impression your book makes on your reader, it also determines how the book will feel in your reader’s hands. Though these aren’t the kinds of details readers necessarily consciously consider, as an author you’ll want to choose the cover that best fits your vision for the work.

Here at Advanced Print & Finishing, one of the questions we get quite a bit is, ‘what kind of cover stock is best for my book?’ In reality, the answer comes down to quite a few factors, including the type of book you’ve written and what you’ll want to use as your cover art. We’ve put together a list of the most common cover stock options for paperback books to give you a better idea of the options available.

You can choose from these options over on our quote page as you fill in the rest of the specifications for your next book project. And as always, if you have any questions at all, feel free to call our dedicated customer service team at 888-664-8166.

What is Cover Stock?

Also called card stock, paperback cover stock is just a thicker, more durable version of the paper typically used for the inside pages of a book. As you can imagine, there are quite a few different options you have to choose from for your cover stock.

Coated vs. Uncoated

uncoated-cover-stock

An example of an uncoated cover stock, the pictured cover is less smooth to the touch than coated paper and displays more grain.

The first choice you’ll make for your cover is if you want one or both sides of the cover to have a coating.

Coated stock refers to paper that has an enamel coating applied to it during the manufacturing process at the paper mill, before any printing is done. This coating produces a smooth and even surface that prevents ink absorption.

When and why you would use coated paper

When ink soaks into uncoated paper, it will bleed slightly once it is on the paper. Using a coated paper allows you to work with finer details in your images and text because the coating prevents the ink from spreading once it is applied to the page. The coating also makes the cover stock more opaque than uncoated paper.

Therefore, you may want to choose a coated page for your cover stock if you want a smoother feel to the outside of your book, particularly if you are using exceptionally fine details on your cover image.

When and why you would use uncoated paper

With the description of coated paper above, it may seem easy to jump to the conclusion that coated paper is better than uncoated paper, while in reality the “best” choice is completely dependent on the type of project.

One advantage uncoated paper provides is the ability to include texture on your book cover. Though it’s difficult to tell in the photo, the cover in the photo above this section is uncoated, because the authors wanted a great looking book that also had a real “feel” to it — and we think it turned out great. You can also use uncoated paper to achieve unique textures for your cover; you can see an example of this in the section on custom stock below.

Another point to consider when looking at coated versus uncoated is that because the coating adds weight to the coated paper. If you consider a specific paper weight, say 100 lb., the uncoated paper will be thicker than the coated paper because of the weight the coating adds. Learn more about the complexities of paper weights with our paper weight conversion chart.

Coated One Side

matte-laminate-cover-stock

An example of a cover printed on coated paper.

Abbreviated C1S, Coated One Side is what you’ll see on many paperback books. This simply means that the outer side of the cover is coated while the other side — which will be the inside of the cover — is uncoated. 10 pt. C1S stock is the most common cover choice for perfect bound books from our customers.

Since the inner pages of most novels and other books featuring primarily text will be be printed on uncoated paper, using a Coated One Side cover allows the inside of the cover to match the uncoated look and feel of your pages, while providing a coated outer cover. If using a coated one side cover, you won’t typically to have any printing on the inside of the cover.

Coated Two Sides

If you are going to have printed material on both the outside and inside of your cover, you’ll probably want to go with a C2S cover, which is coated on both sides. However, you’ll typically only do this if you are using coated paper for your inner pages, as well. Coated inner pages are typically used for books with many photos and other images. In this case, you’ll probably want a coated inside cover to match your coated pages.

Custom Stock

custom-cover-stock

You can see the texture details on this close up of a custom cover.

In addition to the standard cover stock options, we also offer custom options depending on your needs for your project. Since we use offset presses to print the cover of your book instead of digital printers, we have a wide array of options available.These options can include linen, felt, laid, wove and vellum, among others, and they also can include a variety of colors.

As mentioned previously, the particular custom stock in the above photo adds even more texture definition than other uncoated papers. Because of the abundance of options, if you do want to go with a custom stock you’ll need to contact our customer service directly rather than using our instant quote form. You can reach us at 888-664-8166 or by emailing bestbook@advancedpf.com.

Laminate versus Non-laminated

gloss-laminated-cover-stock

We wanted to capture the reflection of a light in this photo to illustrate the sheen that can result from using a gloss laminate on your cover.

While the coating on a paper is applied at the paper mill, a laminate is something we apply to the cover after printing. Available in matte or gloss finishes, laminate adds a different look and feel to your book, as well as strength and durability.