Designing good book covers is difficult. It is creative work that requires that the designer is able to capture the essence of a book in an image that pleases everyone, especially the publisher’s marketing department, and is attractive from a reader’s point of view. 12 book cover designers have shared their stories on their works that were killed before they were published.
If you examine covers of different genres of books, you instantly notice how the genre defines many factors for the cover. Romance covers tend to have a man and a woman in, crime novels often have dark covers, text books show an item from the contents of the book, and nonfiction books have something about the overall theme of the book.
The most difficult book covers to design are for a genre that is so broad that it is hard to define: literary books.
3 cover designs for the same book. Left: the original book cover in France. Center: rejected cover. Right: published cover design.
Creative Review has managed to get stories from 12 cover designers on their works that were rejected. Many stories have a lesson that the designer learnt from the setback.
One of the stories and the key takeaway of the project is told by Thy Bui who was the first designer to try and create the cover for a book: “This cover was scrapped, as were a few more attempts. The final cover was designed by Sophie Burdess. So the lessons learnt? That there is almost always a hiccup somewhere along the process – accept this. And, there is no right or wrong design for a book cover. Our role as designers is to explore the options.”
Designing a cover for an ebook is the same thing as for a print book. A collection of ebook cover designs from multiple designers can be viewed, for instance, at the book cover design awards page. Each cover has a brief review. These books are very genre-specific, making judging their covers easier than, for instance, literary book covers.
Three elements require careful consideration before a book is ready to be marketed at an online bookstore: title, cover design and book description. The fourth element – price – is equally important, but it is a business decision, unlike the three other elements that are often created by experienced professionals. The rise of ebooks has introduced plenty of new authors to the world, but also plenty of new cover designers have found interesting work in the world of books.
If you are a writer who is thinking of publishing an ebook or a cover designer, one of the best ways to learn about book covers is to study what others have done. In his The Book Designer blog, Joel Friedlander runs e-Book Cover Design Awards for new cover images.
Award winners for the best fiction and non-fiction cover designs have been chosen for April 2016, and they are Wrong Side of Hell, design by Lou Harper, and Are You Buying This?, The Book Designers. Just like with books, a cover design appeals someone while another person may dislike the same cover. It is a matter of taste, and above all, a matter of appeal. Does a book cover appeal to a reader? Is the cover so intriguing that it calls the reader to click it and open the book?
These two book covers (a fiction and nonfiction cover) from e-Book Cover Design Awards April 2016 selection were the favorites at the Klaava office.
What makes the ebook cover design more difficult than designing a printed book cover? For a printed book, the cover design has to look perfect in its actual size alone. Ebook cover, on the other hand, has to be perfect from thumbnail size to poster size. Often, readers only see a thumbnail image of the cover image when they find a book at an online store. The purchase decision maybe made based on thumbnail image alone. Yet, the same image has to be attractive even when viewed on a 26-inch PC monitor.
Some book publishing professionals believe that the rapid rise of erotica was caused by popularity of ebooks and ereaders. If you wanted to read a book – absolutely any book – in a public place like subway, park or bus stop, no one could judge you because no one could see the cover of the book you were reading.
People are curious by nature. If we see someone holding a book and we are able to spot its cover, we definitely want to see what the book is about. That is exactly what people commuting on a subway do. Although they do it very discreetly, they are caught when they can’t help smiling at an obviously fake book cover.
Here is the funny video of reactions caused by book covers by The Chortle:
Technology is a funny thing in a sense that if something is possible, someone will do it, and someone else will use the invention in a way that the inventor never could imagine. GIF image is an example of this. The picture format was one of the earliest images computers could display before the Internet reached every home and pocket. GIFs were almost forgotten, until someone realized it was fairly easy to use GIF to create simple animations. Now, GIF animations are displayed in every social media channel.
Since books have cover images, and they are digital, it is possible to create an animated GIF image and use it as the book cover. Some readers regard it as an excellent idea, whereas others believe any kind of moving image breaks every possible rule in a sacred product called book.
Everyone is entitled to his and her opinion, but irrespective of your opinion, we encourage you to spend a few minutes and explore book covers that have been animated by Henning M. Lederer. Some of the cover images are so magical and to the point that we are wondering why this hasn’t been invented earlier. All sample covers are for nonfiction books.
Here is Henning M. Lederer’s video with 55 animated book covers:
Classic books, like War and Peace, Pride & Prejudice or Moby Dick have had so many cover designs over their lifespan that no one knows every design that exists. Every time a book is translated to another language or a new edition is printed, a new cover that reflects the trends of the times may have been created. Now, in the era of ebooks, a group of artists has decided to recreate covers for classics.
Creative Action Network launched Recovering the Classics campaign in 2013, and invited artists to contribute new cover designs. The goal was to get new covers for 100 old books that are still being read as ebooks. The campaign was more popular than the organizers expected. More than 750 artists and designers contributed.
Design by Abdul Rasyid
Design by Niasha Kodzai
Design by Roberto Lanznaster
Design by Kirsten Mischler
Design by Becki Kozel
View all the new book cover designs here where you can also purchase your favorite designs as posters and t-shirts.
Since books are digital products today, and can feature motion pictures and animated images, why not animate the book cover as well? That’s what Shannon Palmer concluded, and created a couple of animated book cover designs for classics. Here is the new, animated cover for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:
Have you ever thought what was your decision process when you purchased a book? What was it that made you choose exactly that book?
Many readers can be reluctant to admit that the title and the cover had a great importance on their decision, but the behavior has been a well documented fact for years. The importance of other factors, such as reader reviews, price, and blurb may have been affected to some extent by the emergence of online bookstores and ebooks.
Book writing service Book in a Box has written many books for people who wanted to become authors, and the service has tracked which books have sold well and which ones haven’t. The result is a list of eight factors that affect the book purchase decision. Usually, the most important factor is the title and the least important is the price. Here are the eight factors:
1. The title
2. Who recommended the book to you
3. The book cover
4. The book description
5. Other readers’ reviews
6. The author bio and picture
7. Content sample (“see inside” or “view sample”)
8. The price
The book topic, title, author and cover design are often mentioned as the most important factors for purchase decisions. Be as it may, cover designers get surprisingly little attention from the large audience. Here are some exceptional book cover designs from 2014.
View all cover design Flavorwire picked up as the best of 2014.
Leaving the Sea – Ben Marcus, cover design Peter Mendelsund.
Citizen – Claudia Rankine, cover design John Lucas.
The Intervals of Cinema – Jacques Ranciere, cover design Jessica Svendsen.