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Rethinking Book Cover Design — 5 Comments

  1. As an Indie book designer, thanks for contributing your inspired insights and high standards to our practice, particularly at a time when too many book covers on store shelves and ecommerce pages are increasingly void of any visual interest.

  2. Athough all of your book cover designs were based on graphic design from the 20th century, I still find the designs by Schwitter, Roller and Wilson more interesting. My eye is drawn to the use of complexity. It has to be an element that is played against an emphatic contrast. With This Last Thought is the only one complex enough to be interesting. Yet I have seen authors condemn that type of cover because the title and author do not jump out due to low contrast.

    • I wouldn’t place myself on the same shelf as the designers who influenced me, but they worked in different times and their pieces had different work to do. My covers still had the functional task to perform of delivering the name and title in a medium that doesn’t ususally get more than a glance. Complexity would not have served that purpose. On the other hand, with regard to With This Last Thought, we did increase the contrast a bit for the final release, but this is not J. K. Rowling’s new blockbuster. Indie books by unknown authors (including mine) need to deliver the author/title information, but neither the author name nor the title will help attract buyers. The suggestion to make this information prominent makes sense intuitively, but unless the prospective reader knows the author, has heard him/her speak, or has read an article that inspires deeper investigation that author’s works, you might as well print that data in big, bold, Swahili text. Making it prominent will not increase its resonance with the reader, even if it does “jump out.” I find that in most cases, when it comes to indie publishing, the author is much more of a product than the book. Pretending otherwise or imitating the marketing strategies of successful authors is a great way to make a big, loud, ineffective book cover tat looks like authentic “something.” Thanks for your comments.

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