The end paper is to a book what lining is to a coat – essential. When the craftsmanship is solid and reliable, the user doesn’t even notice it’s there. And if we give it some thought, it complements the end product in a perfect way.
End paper – what is it and why is it there?
The definition of end paper is complex, and for laymen it tends to complicate matters more than help at all. After all, “a single-fold sheet of paper, usually with higher grammage, glued to the internal page surface of the base case and bound to the block” doesn’t sound particularly friendly. Translating from the printing language to make it understandable to humans: the end paper is an extremely important element of a book’s anatomy. We will focus here on end papers used for hardcovers and flexo binding. This is a four-page folded sheet of paper that binds the cover and the book block.
Additionally, it covers up the things that we don’t want to look at, namely the flap and the bookbinding cardboard from which the cover is made. If concepts such as “casewrap” and “cover” are still a bit of an enigma, it might be a good idea to read our text on book anatomy. However, it would be much easier to investigate the end paper organoleptically. Just take a look at any hardcover book to see how the block is bound to the cover. This inconspicuous sheet of paper that keeps everything in check is the end paper. As it has to endure severe strain, the material from which the end paper is made should be extremely durable and, moreover, non-transparent. And of course it would be nice if it additionally improves the aesthetics of the end product. That’s a lot of expectation for such a small sheet of paper, right?
Why dedicate any time to the end paper?
The answer is really quite simple – to surprise our readers and encourage them to reach for our book. Let’s be honest, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we often chose them purely on the basis of their aesthetic appearance. We all like to surround ourselves with nice things, so we are more willing to reach for something visually striking. A book with a fancy end paper will give readers the feeling that the publication has been carefully thought out and designed. It also suggests valuable content. Let the photos included in this short article be a testimony that designing an attractive end paper is not a waste of time (or money). They show books from our production lines, the end papers of which made a big impression on us.
Non-printed end paper
If we don’t want to make fuss about the end paper and we’re not going to print anything on it, then we have two options to choose from. We use a simple white end paper, or we can go for some colour. The typical choice in our printing house as far as end papers are concerned is white uncoated paper with a grammage of 140 g/m2. However, if we want to use colour, it will be best to use coloured paper (we most often use paper with a grammage of 160 g/m2).
Carefully selected colour of the end paper can make a lot of difference and increase the visual attractiveness of the book. Contrasting combinations can be rather interesting, too, e.g. a black cover and a red end paper. We might also choose an end paper in a colour shade similar to that used for the cover.
There are also publications that are pretty much begging for a specific colour to be used for the end paper. If you want to print a photo album in which the prevailing colours in the photos and on the cover are of a darker shade, you should seriously consider a black end paper. This simple trick will turn your album into a harmonious whole. And what happens when you can’t find the right shade amongst the coloured papers on offer? Then we can do solid printing on the end paper using the desired colour…
Printed end paper
Printed end paper is not the hardest thing to design in the world. The end paper file is prepared in a similar way to other materials that are to be printed. The most important information is that graphic elements should be saved in a separate file. If we save our end paper in the same file as the book block, the end result will be far from what we intend to achieve. In place of an interesting end paper, we will end up with the prepared graphics adorning the front pages of the publication.
And what about sizes? As we already know, the end paper is a four-page folded sheet of paper, so it is of the same size as the spread of a given publication. We should therefore sum up the width of the two adjacent pages (the page height remains unchanged). If necessary, we must also take into account the necessary bleed (more about bleeds to be found in our video tutorial). Here’s a life hack for you: if you want to be 100% sure that you have not made any errors in your calculations, you can always use the cover calculator on our website 😉 Just change the type of binding to “softcover – saddle stitched” and the end paper sizing is served to you on a silver platter.
Once the format is all sorted out, then we can move on to another issue. What do we actually put on the end paper? At this point, there is a multitude of choices to go for with practically no restrictions. It can be an illustration, a geometric pattern, or a fine monochrome decorative detail – anything that will fit in with the character of our publication.
It seems that we have managed to incorporate all the key information dealing with end papers into this short text. However, if you are still in doubt – contact our sales department and ask any pressing questions you might have. And on our part, we believe that we have successfully demonstrated that the end paper can be of real decorative value to any publication.