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!