The numerous awe-inspiring projects adorning the production floors of Hong Kong and mainland China print suppliers always get PW itching to feature these unbelievable objects that pass for books. However, nondisclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses often play havoc with this wish. But persistence does pay off. So here are several randomly chosen outstanding projects—approved by the respective publishers for this publication—that best exemplify the suppliers’ production capabilities and innovativeness.

From Asia Pacific Offset

BMW: Culture is a book that drives, literally. The first 108 pages detailing BMW’s 40 years of cultural commitment are printed on wood-free stock. The rest is hollowed out for a remote-controlled car mechanism that allows readers to drive the book around the room. Hand-numbered, each of the 1,488 copies is signed by Grammy Award–winning graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister and sports a unique cover. Put together, the 1,488 covers would depict a bird’s-eye view of BMW’s Munich headquarters.

Another branded book, Chronicle Books’ Heights: An Intimate Look at Bombardier Business Aircraft, has its matte silver foil cover UV-printed to give an ethereal feeling, with a glossy scuff-free lamination applied for additional protection. The inside pages have four-color printing with spot metallic PMS colors and spot varnish. It comes with a custom slipcase with tray and ribbon lift.

From C&C Offset Printing

C&C has produced an intricate pop-up book measuring 20 cm×16 cm that celebrates six traditional Hong Kong festivals. “It has 15 spreads, and some parts of the pop-ups required paper engineering and special materials that had never been used in a book before. The most interesting and complex section for us was one particular spread that uses fiber bulbs,” says assistant general manager Kit Wong, pointing out that the spreads increase in complexity as one flips through the book. “There were also many small parts that required meticulous printing to get the perfect color and alignment. In fact, it took us two months after the concept was accepted to iron out the engineering part and plan the most efficient production method to print and assemble this complex title. The amazing sales figures and reviews for this book certainly make the time and effort spent worthwhile.”

From Imago

A slipcased deluxe edition with 10 bound-in envelopes, a bound-in fold-out poster, and 17 envelopes of various sizes pasted to the pages, Theodore Gray’s Elements Vault (Black Dog & Leventhal) certainly presented an unusual challenge. “The pasted envelopes contain various printed and sourced elements, including a vintage postcard in vellum and a piece of cubic zirconium in clear PET plastic. The cubic zirconium envelope also contains foam backing for both presentation and practical purposes, as it helps to prevent the edges of the gem from scratching other pages in the book,” says regional sales director Linda Readerman. The book also features a piece of Teflon tape (affixed directly to the page), glow-in-the-dark ink, a Silly Putty–like substance made in part from boric acid, and a piece of real gold (in the form of a delicate sheet of gold leaf). “The gold leaf is wrapped with a piece of art card and inserted into a sealed envelope,” Readerman says.

Then there is Cars (Disney/Pixar), a wire-o book and kit with a set of custom-made interchangeable wheels that can be affixed to the card-stock punched-out cars. The set also contains two sheets of reusable plastic stickers that can be applied to both the wheels and the two giant fold-out racetracks included with the book. The cars, once punched out, can be stored in a bonus pop-up garage that comes with the set.

From Leo Paper

A children’s publisher came with a proposal to add a digital component to enhance sales of one of its frontlist titles. Taking a traditional lift-the-flap storybook, the team worked closely with the publisher to integrate narration and sound effects, and add digital flaps to bring a new dimension to the storytelling and characters. “We also developed a range of in-story innovative activities that were integrated with FamLoop to turn the reading session into a family-bonding experience. Our digital solution allows designers to enhance the print asset and seamlessly convert it into the ePUB 3 standard to support multimedia applications,” says general manager Alvin Lai, whose team developed the FamLoop platform with strategic partner MotherApp. “We help publishers speed up new product development by enabling the launch of enhanced children’s e-book apps within a few weeks. FamLoop helps publishers to launch digital books in the Apple AppStore, test the market, and generate revenue in the global e-book marketplace with minimal upfront investment.”

From Midas

Imagine making a case-bound book measuring 23 mm×6.5 mm×34 mm in 12 designs. “Everything had to be done manually because of its small size, and the main challenge was to control the quality of millions of copies of the book and meet the high quality standards set by the Japanese client. The production lead time given was also very short,” says general manager Annie Wong. The eight spreads with self-ends were made of a perforated sheet forming 16 panels and then accordion-folded and glued. The front and back panels were glued to the case with the Japanese-style paper sleeves wrapped over the outside cover. Each minibook was then individually polybagged and packed into a tuck-end box (40 mm×17 mm×25 mm). “The packaging had to be done carefully, as the finished products will go into a Japanese candy factory’s auto-packaging line for final assembly,” Wong explains. “Any difference in shape or dimension will make the line stop, causing great inconvenience and affecting productivity.”

From Regent

With custom real metal casings, leatherlike covers, and a working mechanical latch, the anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelords (Paizo Publishing) easily doubles as a campaign prop. Inside the presentation case is a gorgeous hardbound collection of the entire Runelords campaign packed with removable maps and player handouts, as well as a collection of 15 beautiful archival prints of the campaign’s key iconic characters and original cover paintings. “Aside from the need to source for multiple accessories and different materials, we had to deal with stringent quality checks on every item and a short time frame for assembling the whole package. It tested our ability to deliver on time and on budget,” says U.S. sales director Valerie Harwell, adding that the edition, which debuted at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, was especially challenging because of its custom casing mold. “It is the first of its kind in the industry and was a show-stopper.”