Printing & Design Tips: FEBRUARY 2007, #67

Magazine Cover Wraps

Advertising drives magazine production. Without advertising revenue, there is no money to pay for the writing, design, printing, and distribution of a magazine. And let’s not forget magazine profit. At the same time, advertisers want maximum exposure for their ads. After all, they have spent good money and much time to create and to place their advertising, and they want to maximize the ad’s visibility.

However, there are requirements for the distribution of the magazine. Some destinations, such as Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for example, refuse delivery of magazines in envelopes (for security reasons). Magazines distributed on Capitol Hill must take a paper wrap, called a cover wrap. A cover wrap is a thick paper protective outer covering stitched to the outside of a magazine. The good news is that you can ink-jet the recipient’s address on the cover wrap. The bad news is that a cover wrap can obscure the ad on the back page of the magazine. If the ad is covered, the subscribers may not see it, and the advertiser would have spent money but would have received less than he or she had been promised.

What options do you have for not covering back-page advertising?

First of all, you can put the magazine in an envelope, address it, and mail it out. In most cases, printing the envelope will cost about the same as printing the cover wrap (if you print more at a time, each unit will cost less than if you only print a small number). Also, the cost to insert the magazines in the envelopes will be offset by your not needing to stitch the cover wrap onto the magazine. As mentioned before, some locations, like Capitol Hill, may refuse magazines in envelopes entirely.

Another option would be to create a white box (knock-out is the technical term) on the cover of the magazine onto which you can ink-jet the subscriber’s address. The up side to this option is that a white knock-out box costs nothing to print (or, actually, not print), and you get to keep the money you had spent on envelopes or cover wraps (and their respective inserting or attaching). The bad news is that your magazine could get banged up and or torn in the mail.

Still another option would be to adjust the size of the wrap so it doesn’t obscure the ad on cover 4 (back cover) of the magazine. You could cover the entire front of the magazine with the wrap and then extend the wrap past the saddle stitches onto the back cover, leaving a 4” vertical (approximately) flap over part of the back cover. The flap would be necessary so the cover wrap does not fall off the saddle stitcher (the wrap needs a flap to allow it to hang on the conveyor as it travels through the stitcher). A short wrap like this would let most of the back-page ad still be visible. You would also still have room for addressing the magazine on the front. This type of wrap offers a limited protection for your magazine.

Sometimes you may need to include promotional copy on the wrap, but if that is not the case you can affix an even smaller wrap to the magazine. You can stitch a wrap that covers only part of the bottom half of the magazine starting from the foot trim, extending approximately 3.25” up the magazine cover, and extending horizontally from the bind edge across the front and back of the magazine by about 4.5”. This would still provide a “hanger,” so the wrap won’t fall off the saddle stitcher. It would give you room for the subscriber ink-jet addresses. And since it would just be a blank sheet of cover-stock paper, you would not incur the cost of printing it. You would only pay to affix the wrap to the magazine (1/4 of the cost of printing, or even less). In this case, you would attach the wrap to the magazine only by the bottom stitch of the magazine (that is, it would not be as firmly attached to the magazine as a wrap held by both the top and bottom saddle stitches of the magazine itself). This wrap would offer little protection for your magazine.

Another option, which would require a separate printing pass (and which would add to the cost of the job) would be to print the back-cover magazine ad on the back cover of the wrap as well. This would provide full protection for your magazine, and you could charge a premium for printing an ad on both the back cover and the wrap that covers it.

The preceding assumes your magazine is saddle-stitched. What if it is perfect bound?

If you are perfect-binding rather than saddle-stitching your magazine, you might want to glue a cover wrap onto it using fugitive glue, which is like rubber cement. Keep in mind that fugitive gluing costs extra money and may add a day to the production schedule. There are various configurations for wraps that involve fugitive glue. However, the extra time needed for perfect binding and fugitive gluing may make them impractical for publications on a tight schedule, such as weekly periodicals.

Polybagging, the final option, which would be appropriate for either a saddle-stitched or perfect-bound magazine, would be available through many publication (i.e., magazine or journal) printers as well. However, if you included a carrier sheet in the polybag (for your ink-jet addressing), it would cover either the front of the magazine or the back-page ad. Make sure you discuss with your print provider what will be obscured if you use a carrier sheet. Even if you were to address the magazine directly on the wrap (using Cheshire labels, for instance), you would still need to be careful not to obscure too much of the front cover or the back-page ad. Of course, you could make the argument that a polybag is like an envelope that you can see through. Once you tear off the wrap, both the front cover image and the full back-page ad would be immediately visible, making both the advertiser and the editor of the magazine happy.

[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]