Friday, September 19, 2008

Making Mock Ups and Thinking Like a CEO, Maybe

Recently I've spent a good amount of time making mock ups for some of our upcoming Spring 2009 books. A mock up is a dummy book--sometimes a blank bulking dummy provided by the printer or sometimes another book that is the same trim size and page count--wrapped in the new book's cover art. Making mock ups is tedious work, trimming color copies one at a time with an X-acto knife, marking, folding, wrapping, spray mount fumes. It is time consuming and mind numbing. I am also more than a little obsessive-compulsive about it. I mean, if they aren't done right, what's the point? If they don't look great, why bother?

Smart packaging will help sell a book as much as good design. I've written a couple times about the success we are having with The Conservative's Handbook. The book is a black simulated leather case bound hardcover with gold foil stamping and a belly-band half jacket. Before the book released we had the printer bind up a couple dozen sample books in the right trim size and foil stamp them to get the full effect. I printed the half-jackets on our color printer, trimmed and wrapped them by hand. It cost several hundred dollars, which seems like an absurd amount of money to pay for dummy books, but I am convinced it was the best marketing we could have done for bringing the book to market. It worked. The buyers "got" the vision for the book, ordered good initial quantities, and it continues to be our #1 best selling book three weeks running.

In the past I've had the luxury of working with some extremely talented designers and creative directors who did a great job with mock ups. CHP is a smaller company. I have to admit, as I was working on "my arts and crafts," as I like to call it, I wondered if Jane Friedman ever spent her time making mock ups, or if Jack Welch ever spent his time mocking up a new light bulb. I know that CEOs are not that close to product development, nor am I a CEO, and the opportunity to be hands-on with every aspect of book publishing is one of the things I love about being at Cumberland House. Still, I have guard my time and make sure I am giving the company what it needs from me. I believe great packaging and great mock ups sell books, so yes, this is a good use of my time.
Here's a sneak peek at some of our upcoming books.

Notable Lives is a new biography series. We are planning a printed case with the mirror image on the front and back cover wrapped in a half-jacket.

Reds, Whites and Salads is a book of entree salad recipes with suggested wine pairings. Again we are planning a printed case, as you can see here with the spine and front case cover, and with a jacket.
The Brandywine Book of Food is a large format, full color book that celebrates the culture of food and drink in the Brandywine Valley region of southeastern Pennsylvania. This is a high end book bound in a 3-piece case with cloth spine, color end pages, matte finish art paper--a book that feels as good to hold as it looks.

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln's birth. The market is being flooded with Abraham Lincoln books. Our contribution is titled Abraham Lincoln: Quotes, Quips, and Speeches. It has a three-piece case with simulated leather spine and linen cover with gold foil stamping and 4-color printed inlay. We had the printer bind and stamp dummies and I cut and pasted the photos by hand, and again, it is paying off. The buyers are saying they haven't seen anything quite like it and they are considering it for promotional space--pretty good given the flood of competition.

1 comment:

osj said...

great lookin' stuff coming out, Paul. great lookin' stuff.