Amazon KDP Matte Vs. Glossy: Which Should You Choose And Why?

Cover lamination or finishing is an essential aspect of book cover design that is frequently overlooked and undervalued.

Despite this, there is no denying that both shoppers and readers can benefit from the tactile and visual benefits of laminated books. Lamination can also enhance the perceived value and quality of the book. 

When publishing your paperbacks on Amazon KDP, authors are given a choice to select between either a Matte or a Glossy finish, but which one would be the best for your books?

This guide will walk you through a few of the pros and cons of both matte and glossy finishes and the benefits of each so you can make an informed decision as to which to choose and why.  

Amazon KDP Matte Vs. Glossy: Which Should You Choose And Why?

So, Which Should You Choose And Why?

When it comes to choosing the right stock for your book, there are no right or wrong answers. Since it’s your product, you can produce it however you want.

You will need to consider your genre and intended audience when choosing the finish for your book cover. Check out similar books at your local bookstore to see what speaks to you. Matte or glossy, each will influence your cover’s colors and artwork differently. 

Both finishes will affect the quality and value of a book and how it looks and feels when you read or shop for one. So, before you make up your mind, let’s explore a few things you’ll need to consider.

Why Use Gloss Laminate?

Gloss laminate has a stunning visual impact. Cover photos in this finish are produced with more vibrant colors and sharper lines. Many authors prefer this finish as their reflective look attracts reader attention and suggests a richer product. 

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Gloss laminate finishes are also durable because they repel dust, fingerprints, and dirt. Surface dirt can easily be wiped away even when it does come into contact with it. Hence why, gloss finishes are the standard for trade paperbacks.

When choosing gloss lamination, consider that scratches, scuffs, and indents are more visible – because the glossy finish catches the light, imperfections are highlighted. The vibrancy of color and sparkle of the finish can sometimes overshadow the subtlety of an understated cover design. 

What Are The Pros & Cons of Gloss Laminate?

ProsCons
It makes your work feel satisfying to hold because it has a smooth, ultra-smooth finish. As a result, people will engage with your book more readily.Under certain lights at events or in classrooms, glossy paper creates glare, making it difficult to read your book.
Printing photos on glossy paper makes them look very impressive. They really pop off the page and look very striking.
You can add a professional touch to your work with it.

Why Use Matte Laminate?

Matte is currently the most popular laminate option among Young Adult titles right now. The look and velvety texture of matte lamination is a favorite among authors, designers, and consumers as its enjoyable to touch. Many people describe matte laminate as being elegant and professional in appearance.

Matte softcover finishes are not as reflective as their glossy counterparts, giving the cover art a more natural appearance. Less shiny covers absorb more scruffs and minor scratches without getting a “beaten up” look. Matte covers stand out from many glossy ones on a bookstore shelf because of this simple contrast.

Some caveats about matte lamination: Many love the soft feel of matte lamination, but the texture may be unfamiliar to others. A less reflective finish can decrease the intensity of the cover color, creating a more muted or washed-out look. On darker colors, matte lamination can reduce contrast, resulting in a softer look. 

Matte lamination allows scratches and scuffs to be more readily absorbed, but it is more prone to staining and spilling.

What Are The Pros & Cons of Matte Laminate?

ProsCons
Due to the absence of a thick, shiny coating, matte paper can be used with both inkjet and laser printers.The longevity of your projects and productions will not be great if you don’t use professional matte paper (rather than regular).
Using a matte finish on your book cover will make it look slick and modern.Matte paper may be more prone to creasing and bending because it lacks a thick coating and protective layers.
This is an inexpensive option that can be used for most printing projects.

Are There Any Benefits To Using Either Lamination?

One of the main lamination benefits is that it instantly gives your book covers a more professional feel. Your cover will look smart and sophisticated regardless of which finish you select.

In addition to protecting book jackets from tears and scratches, laminates have the added benefit of strengthening them. Moreover, spills and marks will easily come off, protecting your publication from everyday wear and tear for a more extended period.

Adding a laminate finish to your book, magazine, or brochure cover will give your next printed project a professional look. Lamination of printed materials, whether Matte or gloss, provides many benefits. Among them are:

Affordability 

affordability 

Laminates are reasonably priced, and you can save money by preventing damaged printed pieces from having to be reprinted. 

The Text On The Cover Will Be Easier To Read 

Lamination does not impede or blemish the printing because it is completely transparent.

Appearance Improvements

The ink colors of the printed piece look more professional with enhanced ink colors. A laminated cover appears to be of better quality due to its added strength and stiffness.

Protects Your Book Form Damage

A laminate protects against smudges, fingerprints, liquid spills, stains, grease, dirt, etc. When the laminate gets dirty, it is easily cleaned.

Improved Durability

Durability

Printed pieces that are laminated can withstand daily use.

Amazon KDP Matte vs. Glossy: When to Choose Each Lamination

Matte and gloss lamination can be chosen depending on the printed piece and how it will be used. Regardless of the type, the text and graphics are completely visible on both covers, thanks to their strong, clear coverings. Keep in mind, however, that mattes absorb light whereas glosses reflect it. This makes a huge difference in the visual appeal and impact of the printed piece.

So, When Should You Choose Matte Laminate:

  • Direct lighting (i.e., the store signage) will be used to display the printed book. Matte finishes help to reduce glare, making the piece easier to read regardless of the angle.
  • The paperback version of your book won’t be handled very often. Excessive use can scratch or scuff matte laminates.
  • A modern, sophisticated look is what you’re after. Matte is an excellent first impression.
  • The colors on the paperback cover are subdued.

When To Choose Gloss Laminate:

  • Your book will be sitting in a store or event where it will be handled a lot daily. Shiny surfaces provide a higher level of protection than Matte and are easier to clean.
  • The piece should have a strong visual impact. Gloss lamination makes the colors pop off the page.
  • Glare does not pose a problem.
  • When going for affordability. Gloss laminate is cheaper to produce than Matte.

Typical Finishes Used For Specific Genre

GenreTypical Finish Used
Non-FictionGlossy
ThrillerGlossy
Literary FictionMatte
RomanceBoth
General YA Both (goes with trends, currently leaning towards Matte)
Fantasy & Sci-FiGlossy
Children’s BooksGlossy
Low Content BooksGlossy

How Does Amazon KDP Matte & Glossy Laminate Affect The Colors In Your Design?

How Does Amazon KDP Matte & Glossy Laminate Affect The Colors In Your Design?

Amazon covers are typically printed on 80# white paper stock. As such, when the cover is laminated, the finish selected has a different impact on the colors in the design. A glossy finish will emphasize the black tones in the image, making the image appear darker. 

Due to this, glossy finishes are recommended for books that want to make an impact. It’s perfect for covers that have a bright and vivid design. Gloss is also the best choice to pair with metallic printing if you want a premium feature.

Among the most common genres for glossy lamination are textbooks, cookbooks, art or photography books, and children’s books.

With matte lamination, on the other hand, your cover has a muted finish that has a velvety texture. In addition to providing an overall softer appearance, matte lamination offers a pleasant tactile experience. Being a less reflective overlay, it gives your cover art a more natural appearance with a lower contrast in darker colors.

Ultimately, laminate is a personal preference – that can only be evaluated after holding the book. So, before you make a final decision as to which finish would be best for your book, consider ordering proof copies in both glossy and matte from Amazon. This will allow you to compare both laminates and see which one works best for you with them both side by side.  

Remember, nothing is set in stone. You can always opt to create two separate editions of your paperback and offer one on Amazon and the other as an exclusive sale on your website if you can’t decide. Make whatever decision works best for you!

References

Print Options (amazon.com)

https://www.printivity.com/insights/comparing-matte-vs-gloss-lamination/

https://gorhamprinting.com/buy-the-book/2021/09/how-to-choose-the-right-book-cover-finish/

Formatting Your Novel (Best Book Size, Font Size, Glossy vs. Matte Cover) (estherrabbit.com)

https://www.swallowtailprint.co.uk/news/articles/post/58-the-importance-of-a-quality-finish-for-your-book-dust-jackets

http://bnbindery.com/news-marquee/2016/2/3/matte-vs-gloss-soft-cover-lamination-which-is-right-for-your-book

https://www.bbpress.co.uk/news/difference-between-matte-and-glossy-planners#:~:text=A%20glossy%20finish%20will%20come,strike%20the%20audience%20more%20effectively.

Gloss or matte cover for POD, and why it can make a difference | Science Fiction & Fantasy Forum (sffchronicles.com)

https://www.a-schmidt.com/andrea-says/2021/3/15/matte-or-glossy-what-type-of-varnish-should-a-self-publishing-author-choose

https://www.writingforums.com/threads/matt-or-gloss.196834/

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