Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Table Book

Photo credit: Drive Savant

Coffee table books are always in style. They are the bright, shiny objects that adorn stunning living rooms, cabins, Airbnb’s, hotels, and business lobbies around the globe. They boldly reflect personality of the homeowner or business and are always placed in a prime location.

If you are flirting with the idea of creating a custom coffee table book, Bigger Dot has printed some clean, slick, design-driven pieces that refuse to collect dust. After all, the idea is to make them so bold and beautiful that it’s impossible not to pick them up.

Give it a rest

Digital news. Instagram. Pinterest. Likes. Shares. We live in an era of digital fatigue and folks are increasingly weary of staring at their smartphones. A well-designed, photo-filled coffee table book can intrigue, engage and whisk you away from digital overload. It’s easy to relax when a coffee table book has your attention. 

Coffee table books decorate the living room and stimulate the mind

The Japanese have a term for people obsessed with surrounding themselves with books. It’s called “Tsundoku”, the art of buying books and never reading them. The word Tsundoku is a combination of two Japanese terms: tsunde-oku (to let things pile up) and dokusho (reading books). Research has shown that people who love books usually have a higher IQ, whether they read the books or not. 

Here are seven ways that coffee table books stimulate the mind:

  1. Coffee table books are conversation starters. They are displayed out in the open, for all to see. Chosen carefully, these books display personal interests, hobbies, and passions. They can even evoke nostalgia. Some call coffee books bibliophile tattoos. Simply put, coffee table books showcase who we are and encourage others to learn more. 
  2. Coffee table books are tactile. You can touch them. You can pick them up and feel the different textures. In today’s digital age, a coffee table book beckons us to pick up the book and put down the phone. It can be a refreshing alternative to pass some time.
  3. Coffee table books are entertaining. They are design inspired and can spark creativity, improve mood, and boost cognitive performance. From bold colors and patterns to crisp, clean, neutral vibes they will draw attention to themselves and entertain your guests. 
  4. Coffee table books are a form of self-expression. They are chosen intentionally to display personal taste, interests, and ideas. Some are inspiring and educational while others can be controversial or even shocking. The beauty of a coffee table book is that it represents you and leads others to know you better. 
  5. Coffee table books can be a collective. A treasury of poems, paintings, or photographs. You can learn about genres, topics, or bodies of work, all in one place.
  6. Coffee table books can double as artwork. If you have a small studio with minimal wall space, coffee table books can double as art, bringing that art to your coffee table or bookshelves. 
  7. Coffee table books inspire. They can display art, photography, architecture, cooking, travel, gardens, boats, cars, surfing, and landscapes. A commentary on The Civil War or the history of rock-n-roll, coffee table books are filled with ideas. Before Pinterest Boards and Google searching, artists and working professionals often looked to these books for inspiration.

How a coffee table book makes it to the coffee table

Coffee table books are not marketing brochures or annual reports. They are larger than a catalog and have a greater visual impact. These books have staying power, as their topics tend to be timeless. A brand might gift one to its best customers (corporate coffee table books). They can also be sold online, on Amazon, or in bookstores. First, they need to be designed, produced, and published.

Here are a few key components one must consider when creating a coffee table book:

What’s the big idea? Why is it relevant? Once you discover the big idea, it’s time to gather your research, photos, etc. This is where mood boards are born. A niche project with a niche audience, for example, the 50th anniversary of your achievements, may not be interesting to everyone who picks it up. Create a theme that is attention-grabbing and will appeal to your target audience. 

Design! Design! Design! This is mission-critical. Getting a designer on board is a must. Listen to their input as you work with them to create a content outline. This will be a template for the writer. When it comes to the cover, listen to your designer’s advice regarding:

  • Paper stock
  • Matte vs glossy
  • Coated vs uncoated
  • Print embellishments
  • Print process
  • Book size
  • Type of binding
  • Vendors that have experience in coffee table books. (Hint: that’s us.)

Content & content flow. As we stated above, follow the outline. Images or type might be the primary focus, your layout is critical and the writing should be clear and concise. Find a relevant person to write the forward and an experienced writer to make your story shine.

Beware of the butcher. Editing is important, but at the end of the day, this is your baby. Getting your book edited will be a team effort as the designer and editor work together. When removing something, be sure to ask, “Why?” This process will take a lot of time, work, and patience. It’s important to remember why you decided to create this coffee table book and hold on to that vision. 

Photo Credit: Blurring Books

If there’s a coffee table book in your future, we’re ready when you are

When it comes to creating, crafting, and printing beautiful books, Bigger Dot is your one-stop shop. We’ve been at this for 30 years and we’ve produced projects for publishers and designers in Europe, Australia, and South and North America. Come see us, have a coffee, and check out our books on the table.

bigger dot is a global print project management company that provides custom, specialized and strategic print project solutions. We work with industries such as performing arts, tech, education, aerospace, and corporate culture changers.