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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Show some spine!  (Read 2470 times)
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« on: December 21, 2007, 07:55:17 AM »

Indie publishers,

There is something I noticed on my last visit to my FLGS. This store is reasonably good at ordering indie stuff from IPR and even grabs a bunch of nice stuff from the Forge booth at GenCon every year. However, in the wake of some big D&D anniversary promo ("Special guest: Dave Arneson") and in increasing number of indie titles, the "indie" section has been getting compressed. A lot of books in the now-standard size that were previously displayed cover-on were now racked up like paperback novels. And I noticed here that an astonishing number of indie titles have nothing printed on the spines.

What's going on here? Is there some technical limitation of your printing process that makes this unfeasable? Had it simply not occurred to you that your book might appear on a retail shelf? Is this an intentional statement of "fuck the man and his casual browsing" maybe?

This seems like a pretty goofy oversight. If you're printing something, maybe you want to keep this in mind.  If you know you're one of the guilty parties, I'm curious to know what happened.
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iago
Member

Posts: 863


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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2007, 08:06:39 AM »

One big problem is that a lot of indie titles are really thin.  It's hard to get legible type on those spines (I still do, with my thin book Don't Rest Your Head, but it's not necessarily highly visible all the same).

Still, you're right.  As catalogs grow and evergreen products continue, we're going to see more spine-out shelving -- possibly even at conventions, too, not just in retail.
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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2007, 09:01:04 AM »

If it's under 76 pages, spine printing is either impossible or sort of iffy in terms of quality control.  The tolerances are just too tight.

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GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2007, 12:25:20 PM »

If it's under 76 pages, spine printing is either impossible or sort of iffy in terms of quality control.  The tolerances are just too tight.

The moral of this story...make longer games!

I'm joking, but I'm sorta not, too.  I've not flipped through an indie display at a store, but I have tried to navigate my bookshelf at home.  If I can't see the title on the spine, I don't remember what it is.  Now, a potential saving grace is a distinctive color for the cover that wraps around the spine.  But that only helps the customer on his bookshelf; it doesn't help sell the game.

My previous games have been long enough that spine printing wasn't a big deal, beyond the basic hassle of trying to land text on something that's a fraction of an inch wide.  However, my next game might not be long enough.  So I'm interested in other ideas.  How can you do spine printing on a small book so that it actually matters?
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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Posts: 16490


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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2007, 12:25:37 PM »

Hiya,

I have titles on the spines of my books, but for Elfs, it's certainly not optimal. The book is just thick enough to tolerate readable text, but looking at it, I realize that I chose a crappy font size: too small. A big E L F S in solid white would have been a better idea.

Still, though, my reasoning for the spine text wasn't so much about display, but because I wanted the products to look like books. That's why I put the title and the author name, to parallel the most common design for non-game books.

Larry, I think your points are well worth considering, especially since we live in the real world. Ideologically, I find myself disinclined to let physical store design and store policy dictate publisher options. I just sigh when I think the best comics stores in Chicago, all of which have a specific area for the grass-roots local stuff - usually a centrally-placed (i.e. not a wall) two-sided shelf, on which the zines or comics or whatever are always placed face-out. If a given store is experiencing indie title glut, and if they really do have the customer base to support those sales, then it seems incumbent on them to design their space to optimize the products, not the other way around. But hey - it's the real world, not my head, and so in that world, you're identifying something that needs to be taken into account - even if only to defy it.

Best, Ron
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Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2007, 01:57:51 PM »

If technical considerations allow it, there's absolutely no excuse for not having some text or other clear identification on the spine of your book. This isn't just, as Larry said, a sales-in-stores concern. It's also a usage concern. Most people store their books on a shelf, spine out. If there's no marking on your spine (particularly if the spine is some uneventful color like black, gray, or yellowy brown), it becomes impossible to find your book after it's been shelved.

If you don't have room for a title, you might at least consider something like an identifying color or set of colors to make your book visible and identifiable from a spine-out position.

yrs--
--Ben
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Scro
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2008, 08:17:08 PM »

You make an interesting point. I hadn't really thought about it, because my personal organizational system is something like 'stack all the RPGs on the desk/in the closet'. I don't really pay attention to the spines, because I go through it all top to bottom (there's not that much).

You've got me thinking though, because I just got done publishing my first game, and I opted for coil bound. While this obviously prohibits spine text/images, I like that it lays flat when open, unlike most traditional binding options. Maybe if I'm the only one, mine will stand out (It's the one with the coil deals!).
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David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2008, 01:14:10 PM »

If it's any consolation to Larry, I so-much intend to have a spine that I've been noodling around with publication company names that include logotype that will look good on a spine (ex: the Z-D logo for Ziff-Davis books). I have already (mostly) settled on an equally spine-worthy logo for the GLASS library. And, hell, I use an anagram game, which converts nicely to vertical type! I'm spine-committed, baby! All in!
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Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
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