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Book Cover Typefaces and Cover Design Horror Stories — 7 Comments

  1. One source of quality typefaces — and one designers often fail to take advantage of — are the fonts that come with art software. Often these will include quality “clones” of popular and beautiful (and useful) typefaces. A little Google searching will reveal what these types are clones of, and occasionally they’ll actually be a bit better than the originals for an added plus. And the savings in not purchasing typefaces (especially for those beginning in the design field) can be substantial.

    • Thanks, Duncan. I’ve seen clone fonts go both ways but a number of good classic fonts are available in alternative packages. And as they say, “you can’t beat the classics.”

  2. I got lucky. I just finished my book and went to a professional design team. They actually took the time to read the book first, then gave me concepts, mock ups, prices and most of all, choices… They took the essence of my work and put it into a graphic display that teased but didn’t give away anything I wanted the book buyer to discover him/herself. It really pays to have a pro on your team. If anyone has trouble finding a great and most reasonable place to start, check out http://lindsaygarber.com/

    • Isn’t amazing how many designers don’t even bother to find out what the book is about and who it’s for? Cheap covers may sound like a bargain but if you don’t figure in time for the designer to become acquainted with your story, you’re likely to wind up with a one-dimensional cover design. Sounds like you picked a winner.

      • That’s all part of avoiding the nightmares of being stuck with something non-reflective or your subject — and only leading to lost sales or unhappy buyers. Either way, you lose. I’ve bought many books, not because of the cover, but because their cover spoke to me and I wanted to know more. DG

  3. I can only comment on what would appeal to me as a potential book-buyer. The cover font, either serif or sans serif, all caps or uc and ls, like Times Roman or block like arial, should be big enough (3/4-inch) to command attention and should provide good contrast with cover backbround (e.g., white against dark solid). I respond to an author’s name that is smaller than the title, but of equally good contrast.

    • I’ll agree with your comments about contrast but Times and Arial are institutional fonts. They are legible but entirely lacking in personality, spirit, or attitude. In general, any formulaic approach to design will likely produce mundane results. The cover is not a wrapper or a label; it has to generate interest in the story. It’s conceivable that the meaning of a book’s title may not be understood by readers until they’ve finished the book and pondered its meaning (My first novel, The Dance is that way). In such cases, the cover art must create a conceptual bridge while not giving away the story; the cover for The Prince of Tides should not depict a royal figure standing on the shore. In other cases, such as a Field Guide to Tropical Birds, the subject matter of a book should be literally communicated by the text and images.

      For those more metaphorical covers, the wrong typeface can cheapen the connection between the cover and the text. For literal covers, using an institutional typeface can infer bland practicality that diminishes interest in the book.