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In the lifecycle of book design, there’s a moment when the files are safely off to the printer—corrections made, images retouched, fonts packaged and colors reviewed. This is when I breathe a sigh of relief and indulge in a small but satisfying part of my job—picking the head and tail bands.

Sure, head and tail bands (h/t bands) are overlooked by the vast majority of readers. But to me, they’re the finishing touch that makes the book complete. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up a hardcover book and look at the top of the spine. Chances are there’s a colored silk band where the pages meet the spine. Turn it upside down and there’s another band on the bottom. These are the head and tail bands. Not all hardcover books have them these days, so you might have to pull a few books off the shelf before you find them.

Thanks to Allison Weiner of Chronicle Books!

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