What makes a good book cover?

When you go to a bookstore and you are not quite sure what you’re looking for, what makes you pick up a certain book? Is it the title or maybe the author? For me, it’s always the cover; I like to pick up several and admire them thoroughly before I even open the book.

What makes a good book cover? For starters, know who your reader is. Are you designing a science fiction book? If so, you want to make the book look similar to other science fiction books so the reader can easily identify it. However, you also want to make it unique—and compelling—enough so the reader picks up your book over the others. Not always an easy task!

A good book cover captures the story and gets the reader intrigued enough to want to open the book and read more. Many times I will pick up a book because I find the front cover design so fascinating that I have to know more: case in point, The Mayor’s Tongue by Nathaniel Rich. The cover is so striking and a complete throwback design-wise that I have to know what the story is about. A simple, to-the-point graphic always grabs my attention, like the black and white cover for Forgetting Things by Sigmund Freud. Whether you are drawn to it or away from it, chances are you will notice it!

A book cover should also be pleasing to the eye. Colors should complement each other and the information should be organized so the reader can easily see the title and the author’s name. The image should have some visual interest and not just be plopped in the middle of the page; off-center is almost always better. However, there are times when a designer will break all of the rules and it just works! A good example is the book, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, by Anne Mendelson. The colors are drab, the photo is straight up centered,  the fonts are a bit hard to read and your eye isn’t sure where to go first, yet this is a beautiful cover that works and no doubt grabs attention in a bookstore.

What makes you pick up a book?


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One thought on “What makes a good book cover?

  1. the tao of badass page 114 February 25, 2013 at 8:57 am Reply

    Hi there, yes this article is in fact pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.

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