Spiegel Tests a Heavy Big Book

Spiegel’s “big book” just got even bigger — or at least, a lot heavier. The Downers Grove, IL-based general merchant test-mailed 30,000 copies of a hardcover edition of its spring/summer catalog in January. Spiegel spokesperson Chris Crockett says the book mailed to the best customers from its house file.

Although its 572 pages are identical to those of the softcover version, the hardcover edition weighs in at 3 lbs., 7.5 oz. compared with the softcover book’s weight of 2 lbs., 13.2 oz. The hardcover edition’s trim size is also slightly larger, at 12-5/16″ × 9-7/16″, than the softcover’s, which measures 12″ × 9-1/16″.

According to Christian Feuer, Spiegel’s senior vice president of marketing and advertising production, the rationale for test-mailing the hard cover catalog was to boost the brand image. “It increases the perceived value of the catalog,” Feuer says.

The hardcover also increases the production costs and postage, although Randy Heiple, Spiegel’s divisional vice president of advertising and production, won’t cite specific figures. Heiple does say that Spiegel relied on the production expertise of Quebecor World, its Versailles, KY-based printer. Quebecor World used an 88-point binder board for the hardcover.

Spiegel has produced hardcover catalogs before, Heiple says, but only as inhouse promotional items for parties and corporate events. The company tried to keep costs down with the relatively small print run for the hardcover version. The normal catalog drop for the spring/summer big book is about 5 million.

A standout tactic

Catalogers are always looking for ways to make an impression in the mailbox, says Andy Russell, president/CEO of New York-based catalog and marketing design agency AGA. “To the extent that you want to stand out, the hardcover book may be a good idea” if not an inexpensive one, he says. U.K. apparel mailer Next Directory has been mailing a hardcover book for years, Russell says.

Spiegel isn’t the only U.S. mailer testing hardcovers this year. About the same time that Spiegel mailed its edition, Lincolnshire, IL-based office supplies cataloger Quill circulated a 784-page hardcover catalog.

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