word craft


Books by their covers

I was recent­ly talk­ing to a high­ly suc­cess­ful edi­tor, and she was telling me about the recent aes­thet­ic evo­lu­tion of book cov­er design. The essence is this: With the increase in sales of books on the inter­net, it has become impor­tant to design a book cov­er so that it can be read. Pre­vi­ous­ly, one saw the book in a book store—and there it was—with care­ful­ly (one hopes) designed graph­ic art. Yes the title and author’s name were there, but they were embed­ded in the art. Now, online, we see very small images of the cov­er. The need to present author’s name and book title becomes more impor­tant. As a result more atten­tion is being paid to cov­er size, font, and design of the type. I sus­pect that this will be less a fac­tor in books for young people—surely pic­ture books, and mid­dle grade nov­els. But there it is, the lat­est word. But I sus­pect it will influ­ence the title itself—for that will tend to attract (or not) the read­er even more. It will also favor known writ­ers over new or lessor known.

3 thoughts on “Books by their covers”

  1. Good point about book cov­ers need­ing to work effec­tive­ly in small sizes. Despite the push of online sales, I’m still sur­prised at how many books are cre­at­ed using fine detail in art­work and thin typefaces–things that don’t trans­late well into online thumb­nails images. The result is often mud­dy and indistinguishable–especially for dark cov­ers with lit­tle con­trast in the art­work. Even long titles can be a prob­lem when pre­sent­ed with­in cer­tain online constraints.

    Will this be a fac­tor in the sales of books for chil­dren? Yes, I think so, over time we’ll see an effect, espe­cial­ly as the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of e‑reader devices increas­es. How­ev­er, there are so many oth­er fac­tors involved with book sales that it will be hard to draw def­i­nite, mea­sur­able conclusions–there will always be a sub­jec­tive ele­ment to those conclusions.

  2. Col­ors are impor­tant too. If some­thing has a good tex­ture design behind the ‘white’ or so text, it would prob­a­bly grab some­one’s atten­tion. Some­times the graph­ics can form designs and shapes that one could notice more often than not.


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