Best Book Cover Designs

The best book cover designs take considered account of the potential reader, and the marketplace. A pithy title will read more quickly, and present stronger design possibilities than a lengthy one. If your title requires many words, it’s worth considering a rework that will result in a brief title, supported by a subtitle. To the designer, book covers present a unique challenge to capture the eye of the reader, and convey a book’s essence, in a limited space and a potentially brief view.

Color, contrast, and type size are all important variables in the best book cover designs. These take into consideration such factors as the age of the viewer, the taste of the audience, and the ability of this particular book cover to stand out on the shelf from other book covers designs.

Today’s book shelf has increasingly become the web browser, and today’s browser of choice is often a laptop, ipad,  or even a cell phone. This puts severe limitations on the visual display size and space, and further defines the absolute need for economy in style and words. Judicious use of a tasteful, provocative, or witty visual, whether photographic or illustrative in book covers designs, can determine the critical ‘next step’ in browsing.

In many ways, the best book cover designs are like billboards, attempting to catch the eye of a mobile viewer.  Most billboards use six words or less; hopefully this allows the viewer to read and comprehend at 55 miles per hour, in less than 3 to 5 seconds. In a similar time frame, your viewer needs to know a lot about your book:  genre, subject, and tone.

One infallible source of information is to look at a wide range of book covers designs. Study book and illustration annuals to determine award-winning styles being used by designers of book covers. Best sellers have often gotten their beginning, if not from Oprah Winfrey, from the thought and consideration put into the book covers designs.  

Look at LOTS of books.  Oliver Sack’s, The Mind’s Eye, (designed by Chip Kidd and published by Knopf) is a picture of how a witty use of typography can convey the message.  The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, (designed by Christopher Sergio and published by Ballantine Books)is a fine example of contrast in illustration and design, as well as a creative use of the type/calligraphy. God: A Biography ,(designed by Michael Beirut and published by Vintage Books)has sheer, simple beauty.

Finally, consider the words (paraphrased below) of Chip Kidd, book designer for Random House, in a TED talk given recently entitled: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is:

“A book cover is a distillation; what do the stories look like?”

“The book designer has to be an interpreter and a translator.”

“The book cover provides a first impression; the book designer gives form to content.”

“The book designer’s responsibility is three-fold: to the reader, to the publisher and most of all, to the author.”