I’ve been exploring and analyzing book covers that I really love to try and improve my cover design skills.
Here’s what I look for and value:
- Abstraction — I enjoy more abstract cover images that represent something in the book, but can be interpreted in a number of ways.
- Setting the mood — The Uprooted cover does a really good job of communicating the atmosphere of the book.
- Simple & clean — I dislike covers that are cluttered with text and images. The less on it, the better.
- Contrast — Looking at all of these covers together makes it clear to me why contrast matter. The eye focuses on the typography (usually the title and author) or the imagery first, and then it flips to the other. It there’s no contrast, it’s difficult to comprehend both the imagery and the text and they blur together.
- Clear title typography — I want the title to be parseable and understandable from a distance. I love it when a book shouts, “Here’s my name!”
- Tasteful typography — Picking the right typeface goes a long way. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or stylized. It needs to fit the theme, be clear, and not clash with the rest of the design.
The difference between a great cover and a middling-to-bad cover is huge. What you see when the book is resting on the coffee table and when you pick it up is important. On digital bookshelves, the cover is what sets a book apart among a sea of others. Cover design shouldn’t be an after thought.
What are some of your favorite book covers, and what strikes you as important with a book cover?