From Paper to Canvas: Transforming Book Bands for Durability and Style.

While working at Juniper Books, a bespoke brand in Boulder, CO, specializing in custom book jacket designs and libraries, I identified an opportunity to improve the construction of our book bands. Initially designed with heavyweight, coated matte paper, these bands often failed to hold together the weight of our book sets effectively. This prompted me to propose a more durable solution using printable canvas, which I believed would better reflect the high quality of our products.

Juniper Books’ existing book bands had issues with the Velcro stickers popping off, especially under fluctuating temperatures. Given the premium price of our book sets, it was clear that a sturdier construction was necessary. After discussing my concerns with the team, I was given the green light to test various materials. Through extensive research and numerous test prints, we discovered that printed canvas provided a far superior alternative to paper. We experimented with both coated and raw canvas, ultimately deciding on a mix depending on the specific book sets.

The concept development for this project involved reimagining the existing product to see what materials and construction methods would work best. Using Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, I designed new iterations of the book bands. These designs were produced using an Epson large-format printer, cutters, and a sewing machine. The new bands were constructed from high-quality cotton canvas and a bit of elastic, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal, even when the books were simply displayed on a shelf.

The final design was well-received by both the team and our customers. The improved bands not only better represented the quality of our work but also allowed for a range of custom designs. This project led to the creation of a band for a poetry set that was featured in O Magazine. The new bands provided added value without significantly impacting the profit margin of the book sets, enhancing Juniper Books’ product offerings. The banded sets became a hit, and the company continues to use this technique for their banded sets even six years later.

Reflecting on this project, the main challenge was finding a material comparable in cost to paper that wouldn’t cut too deeply into profit margins. By doing thorough research and presenting concrete numbers to my employer, I was able to justify the switch to canvas. This experience taught me the importance of preparation and presenting well-researched proposals. The success of this project not only improved the product but also demonstrated the value of thoughtful design enhancements.