Bookcoverzone Blog - Covers Makes Books - Cover Design

Number and symbols in business book design

These are exciting times not just for authors, but also for publishers, designers and everyone who has one foot in the publishing industry. While the century-old process of getting published changes rapidly, as does the means in which we publish, the quantity of books published is skyrocketing. Pre-made book cover designs are the new kids in the block and a great way for authors and publishers to find a easy, professional and budget-friendly solution to to their publishing needs. Pre-made book cover designs are a great way, not just for literary/fiction authors but also for self-help, science and business books. 

Turning ideas into symbols...

Fiction book designing is about creating a world, an atmosphere and setting an overall mood; a good business book cover is all about ideas, abstractions and clever use of typography. It's a personal corporate branding project. It's rational, rather than emotional. It's attentive, rather than passionate. Instead of working with textures, shades and perspectives, it's a genre where striking symbols, challenging ironies and clever use of analogies is there to make the best use of. A piggy bank is a symbol of personal saving, an arrow symbolizes growth in venue, keys are real estates and a sand glass is time management. A short browse through business books will immediately present dart boards, light bulbs and gearwheels in the plenty. And while these are clichés in every sense of the word, they still work. In fact, symbol are delicate things, and "over-symbolization" can easily have an undesired effect and make the whole design ambiguous and confusing. A designer has a tendency at times to forget that not everyone is a designer. Conventional approaches, on the other hand, works all the time. As of the writing of this article, the top ten business book covers on the New York Times Bestseller list consists of personal portraits, pencils, rubbers and gear wheels. Not exactly a beacon of imagination but a definite proof that clichés work.


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... and numbers into narratives


And then we have numbers. Since business is eventually about statistics and numbers, using them on covers might seem to make good sense. But there is a problem - numbers are cold, impersonal and to many, openly frightening. So how do we make them intimate and alluring? By clever use of typography and color. Numbers can be exciting and as personal as it gets, once we start looking at them not as digits or mathematical symbols but as geometrical shapes. Every shape has some imminent emotions attached to it. Squares, lines, and triangles suggest structure, strength and organization. Circles imply positivity, relationships, and community. Symmetrical shapes suggests balance, while sharp angels brings dynamism and suspense. The number 8 is so full of meanings that it couldn't fit inside a whole book. It's rounded, it's symmetric and it's shape is continous. It's as sexy as a number can evet get (sharing the spot with 6). More interestingly, while the infinity symbol ∞ is symbolically completely unrelated to the number 8, it's visual similarity is indisputable and to the observer, many of the positive feelings attached to ∞ are also unconsciously present in 8. Apart from its geometrical meanings, it's non-mathematical symbolic meaning is also powerful. In Buddhism, the 8-spoked Dharmacakra represents the Noble Eightfold Path. In Christianity it was the day God created light and also the day Jesus resurrected. In Islam it's the number of gates of heaven and also the number of angels carrying the throne of Allah in heaven. Eight is also the lucky number in various cultures. It's power is so vast that the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in China began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm. Spiders have eight legs, octopus has eight arms, there are 8 planets in the Solar System, and the light of the Sun reaches us in 8 minutes. All these interesting attributes of 8 has turned it into a powerful symbolic numeral in our psyche. 3, an equally compelling number, is symbolically rich because it is present in everything we observe around us. (In fact, it's the number of dimensions in which we observe the world). Optically it's pleasing to look at, since it's repeating, it's got two incomplete circles and it looks very much like organs such as breasts and buts. For mathematicians, physicist as well as designer it's simply the holy number due to it being π. Three also has religious significance because it represents the Trinity, the soul, the union of body and soul in human in the church. Hegel's Dialectics is based on 3 states or moments (Nothing - Becoming - Being). [Dialectics in design is a fascinating matter in itself. It is based on the idea that the expressive potential of design for the maker, the user and the designer exists in tension with other desirable properties of the designed artefact.] In everyday life, we have three prizes in competitions, we count to three before starting on something. It is the first number that forms a geometrical figure – the triangle. With a little bit of imagination, we could base the entire human civilization and the fabric of nature on the number 3.


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The untold advantage of purchasing a pre-made book cover design

Renowned book designer Chip Kidd (who designed the cover to Jurassic Park and many others) once said that a good book design is about giving form to content but also appreciating the balance between the two. Book cover design might turn out to be a very complicated process. While the designer is after creating a catchy, bold and unique identity for your book, you will want as much of the story to be told through the design. Just because of this, there are many reasons a pre-made book covers might be the best idea for your forthcoming book. 

You will get a unique design, not specifically done with your story in mind, but still a cover that has been worked on from scratch and one that you have have found be fit to tell your story. This cover has also been made sure to convey all the different aspects of great book cover designs. Secondly you will know what you're paying for. A great idea might not always turn into a great design (or more specifically the vision you had in mind might look different from what the designer will create). So there's always an element of risk-taking when paying for a unique design. Many authors prefers pre-made covers just because of this. They know what they're paying for, before making any payment. And then there's the element of price. The reason you will usually pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for a good design is because you will have many revision rounds. These takes time and effort on the designers side and naturally he or she wants to get paid for the extra miles. However when you buy a premade book cover you only pay for what you see and don't have to pay for the numerous revision rounds involved (hence the lower price). 

But the greatest reason to buy a premade book cover might be one that is not that obvious at first sight. Great designs usually fail during the many revision rounds. What starts as a clean and bold statement usually gets lost as the author wants the designer to experiment with other design elements or ideas. In the end, without the author knowing it, the main design turns out to be something mediocre at best. When you buy a premade book cover, your book is spared this disastrous process. You see it, you like it, you pay for it and you use it. In short you get a professional, catchy book cover without lifting a finger or paying too much. 

How to choose the right cover for your book?

 

Books with good graphics, eye-catching font and good quality covers sell more copies than those without. It's as simple as that. But designing (and choosing) the right cover for your book might be trickier than you think. It's not just about what YOU think reflects the content of your book - in fact, whether the covers reflects the content, might not be as important as you think.

 

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The book cover is only package, nothing more, nothing less. And every package tries its best to stand out from other packages. If your book is set around a beautiful lake and there's an old man, this does not mean that you should put a lake and an old man on your cover. There will be thousands of covers like this. Forget your creative writing skills for a second and instead focus on creative marketing. What would make this story stand out visually? In what way would it differentiate itself from the other millions of covers on the market? What would your target market expect to see? If it's a romance novel you're writing, the cover SHOULD be romantic, but it SHOULDN'T be dreary and bum-numbing . If it's a political thriller it should be suspenseful, but it shouldn't be cliche. 

So in short, yes, your target market does matter. You should keep them in mind when seeking the right book cover design; all readers have subconscious design, color and even typographical expectations when they're in the market searching for a book to read. Pay respect to these aspects. On the other hand, give them something new as well. That's why, whenever we design a book cover, we try to strike the right balance between what is "familiar" and what is "bold and innovative." That is the essence of a good, working book design. Happy searching! 

Unprofessional Covers Won't Sell Your Book

You have worked for many years on the manuscript, spending considerable time to get every paragraph, every word, every punctuation mark precisely the way you want. Congrats! Now it's time to send your book out into the world. Naturally you'll need a book cover. Where most authors takes the wrong step is by asking a friend, or sometimes "honoring" one friend to make the cover for them. But is that friend a graphic designer? If so, is he or she specifically a book cover designer? Designing pamphlets for a local store or menus for a restaurant or even movie posters is not the same thing as designing book covers. Book cover design is a form of design that has its own unwritten rules, developed through centuries. True, there are local, contemporary aspects to every design but the basics are always there and only a true book cover designer will know about them. Bridging the story with the audience and pleasing the author at the same time can be a challenging task! That is why a professonial book cover designer is needed - not just a designer.

 

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Why choosing a premade book cover might be what you need

So how does premade book covers fit into this picture? First of all, in case you have a found a competent design studio, a premade book cover is a "professionaly made book cover design" done by a professional cover designer. That is not to say that all premade book covers you find on the internet are made by professional. Quite on the contrary, unfortunately most sites offering premade covers seems to lack either professional designers or knows very little about book cover designing. Knowing your way around Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign is not the same thing as being a designer. A lot of aspects comes into play when designing a book cover. First of all, nowadays thumbnail sizes matter, so does black & white renderings of the cover. As e-book readers are still basically black and white and many of your readers will prefer to read your novel on an e-book reader, your cover must look captivating not just in color, but in grayscale as well. 

 

Typography in book cover design

Typography is a whole different dimension in the cover design process. Just because a font looks fancy doesn't mean it should be included in the composition. Each genre of literature requires a set of carefully selected fonts. (It's perfectly valid to be experimental but experimentation on book cover designs should be done with care and attention.) So before working on the cover the designer needs to know basically what the book is about.Next to being content conscious, the designer also need to analyze the basic form of the visuals that are used in the cover. This called form analysis. Analyzing the methods used in the illustration or the general texture of the photography used on the cover is a vital step in selecting and implementing typography.

 

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The secret ingredients of a great book cover

No book cover is perfect. But all great covers are great for different reasons. Some captures the essence of the story, some are marvels of design and some lay the foundation for thousands of future book covers (think of Da Vinci Code). But certain elements are true for every cover. In the next posts we'll focus on what makes great covers, great! A book cover is a compostion of typographical elements, imagery and imagination. Just like any design, the art is getting the right balance. A book cover is not a painting to hang on the wall; it's not an indepent work-of-art where the artist's imagination is on a free ride. A book cover is a realistic design project with a clear aim. To get people to buy the book. 

That is why so many great designers fail, when it comes to creating a book cover. Either they're too abstarct, to conceptual or they simply don't know that designing a book cover is basically the same as designing a bottle of wine or a good cereals package. It's a commercial business. A great book design is the one that stands out from the rest; or the one that consciously focuses on a specific target market and one that isn't after being grandoise or time-less. It's pragmatic. It's an advertisement.

In our next post we'll start focusing on the many different elements of a good book cover design.  Until then, enjoy!