What are Special Edition Books?

Special edition books are also often referred to as limited, deluxe or collector’s editions and are usually inspired by traditional techniques used by master bookbinders or have an avant-garde, pioneering element that sets them apart from other books.

Special editions are upmarket, individual, and bespoke with high production values, finishes, and materials used throughout the book. As special edition books are in themselves a work of art and made to be treasured, they are often produced in a large format and display a high level of craftsmanship with hand finishing.

We offer a product development consultation and free quotation service.

What Sets a Special Edition Book Apart?

Coin Icon

High Value

The key to a special edition book is in its high value. These limited editions command a high price to the consumer, which means a higher budget will be required, giving scope for more cutting edge, creative design, higher quality materials, and finishes without the usual budget restraints.

award icon


If a book is printed as a limited edition, it is then often going to be a collectible and can be highly sought after. The limited-run can also mean that the value of the book will increase over time.


Large Format Production

Creating a special edition book can open up the potential to produce in very large formats. Our specialist print partners in Europe, China, and South East Asia specialise in hand-binding services and can produce an oversize book that is too large to be bound by machine.

A Visual Guide of Special Edition Book Printing & Production

Find out more about how special edition books are created with our visual guide. Our infographic provides a quick and easy overview of our knowledge and expertise in producing beautiful, deluxe, limited and collector’s editions.

Proof of Authenticity

As proof of authenticity, publishers we work with occasionally request copies of these special edition books to be individually numbered and hand-signed by the author.

These are services, which Imago are more than happy to assist with and manage for you, please get in touch for more information.

Slipcases and Boxes

Special edition books are also often presented in a slipcase, two-piece box, or clamshell-style box (also known as a solander case) to further enhance and elevate the overall product.

We can also print and supply individual mailing cartons if required, which protect the product if it is being mailed to a subscriber. These elements can also be entirely bespoke and tailored to meet your requirements. 


Special Edition Book Production – The Technical Details

Hand Finishing

Many projects include handmade elements to further enhance the finished product above and beyond what a machine could create. These elements include:

Tipped In Pages

Tipped in pages, for elements such as signatures and autographs or tipped-in plates for illustrations are pages that are printed separately from the main body of the book, but then attached to it.


Onlays are materials that adhere directly to the overall binding material of the book and are another key feature of many special editions. Imago are able to work with our skilled hand binders and manufacturing teams to produce this for your project. 

Special Edition Book Embellishments

To truly make your special edition book stand apart, Imago are able to work with you and our manufacturers to elevate your project with an array of embellishment options.

  • Organisation and management of the process of hand numbering and signing by author, and we can also arrange for a printed tip in sheet or 1st signature of the book to be couriered to the author to sign before the binding process begins
  • Incorporation of limited edition photographic prints and other ephemera and collectibles within or alongside your special edition book.
  • The use of special cover materials is often a creative and explorative process and we will work with you to find the ideal material for your special edition book cover. These can include real or imitation leathers, real or imitation cloths, printable suedelles and satins.
  • Special finishes include but are not limited to foiling, embossing, edge printing and gilding.
  • High-end, luxurious packaging, which can include linen book bags, a presentation box, slipcase, or clamshell, plus the addition of individual protective mailing cartons.
  • With both versions, the resulting book is lightweight, great to use, and has a high quality feel.

Different Applications of Special Edition Books

A special edition book can be used in a plethora of applications and there is no hard and fast rule to which they can be applied. Over the years, Imago have seen hundreds of special edition books produced in different, interesting, and groundbreaking ways, each with their own bespoke touches to create a truly original end product.

These have included facsimile productions of literary classics and highly visual and impactful subjects including art, architecture, photography, lifestyle, and pop culture. We have also produced many special editions and bespoke projects for corporations, businesses, and brand owners to commemorate or celebrate landmark events in history.

Special Edition Book Production Schedules

Special edition book projects tend to have longer schedules than trade or standard editions as there is more work involved at all stages from estimating and product development to production. There are also more checking and QC (quality control) stages to also be factored in too.

Special edition books are often printed alongside a trade or standard edition. Providing the format and contents paper are common, and there are benefits to printing different editions together.

Start your project

Imago would be delighted to work with you on your next print project. Get in touch with the team to discuss your ideas, no matter how out of the box they might seem!

Why choose Imago for Special Edition Book Production?

Our expertise, experience, and access to global suppliers make Imago the ideal choice when searching for special edition book production and other print management solutions. 

We work with you collaboratively to bring your project to life, and always ensure that your product is manufactured to the highest possible standards both ethically and responsibly, whilst remaining cost-effective. 

Start Your Project