There seems to be a debate on what looks classier – a book cover with a matte finish, or a cover with a glossy one. In bookstores here in the U.S, I see a combination of both on the shelves, but I am not sure what the norm is elsewhere. In my searches about the topic I discovered posts discussing how in Canada, if the book is a trade paperback and glossy, people are more inclined to think that it is self published (apparently because of artist subsidies there, more self-pubbed books are found in bookstores? If the book is mass market paperback, the glossiness vs. matte thing doesn’t seem to matter as much). Meanwhile, I remember seeing a lot of matte or satin finished books in Europe, but I may be wrong. I found comments to the contrary, but I didn’t really spend much time searching. If you know, please comment.
Where do I stand? Give me a combination of matte & glossy! If there is one thing that I have a weakness for, it’s that feeling of smooth against rough and the reflection of a glossy image or embellishment against a matte background, or vice versa. It’s sadly not something I often see in the genre books I read, although I see it more often in young adult books. It just makes me go a little wide-eyed and “Oooh, pretty!” when I see a cover where more than just the art is considered. The extra little something like raised lettering and this finish adds to the experience (and I don’t know if an e-book could ever replicate it). I tell you: be still my beating heart!
I spent some time trying to figure out what this combination was called by the printers, but I still have no clue. Is it Matte with: varnish? Laminate? UV coating? Aqueous coating? The more I googled, the less I knew.
I raided my bookshelves to try to show you my favorite covers, but they are really difficult to photograph. There’s the Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series (the US covers), that have a metallic sheen and Mercy in slightly raised glossy relief. (Cover illustration by Dan Dos Santos, cover design by Judith Lagerman).
Then there is of course the Kara Gillian books by Diana Rowland. The symbols on the cover you can see when you tilt it are so pretty. I just love it! (Cover illustration by Juliana Kolesova, cover design by Dreu Pennington-McNeil)
Other books and series I own with this effect (there are sadly not many. Although I have a bunch with shiny fonts against a matte background, I’m not counting those):
- The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks (this is a reverse of the usual. It has a shiny cover with the character image in matte)
- The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs
- The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
- Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd anthology
detail of Geektastic cover