Although the saying, “never judge a book by its cover”, rings true for every reader, the book cover is an important marketing and sales tool for every publisher. Every minute detail of the book cover matters—from the color palette to the photographs to the typography. Book designers also face the tough decision of balancing their creative license and vision with the expectations of what the reader will buy.
Looking back, some of the most iconic books also featured some of the most iconic covers, such as A Clockwork Orange, The Great Gatsby, Catch-22, and Catcher in the Rye. Even The Godfather cover designed by S. Neil Fujita is unforgettable with the puppeteer’s holding onto the strings attached to the words of “father”. The font too, is haunting with its powerful Gothic-looking typeface that aptly reflects the theme of power in the novel.
Recently, the rise of Instagram—and more specifically—bookstagram, reinforced the importance of having an effective book cover design that would look good on not just our bookshelves but also on our social media feed. Book clubs on Instagram all began following the trend of uploading books with artistic elements like a strategically placed coffee mug and pens, or fairy lights, or posing with the book against an aesthetic background.
In 2019, Vulture penned an article on the rise of book cover designs adapted for screens. The jackets, initially designed for bookshelves, must now also look great as a thumbnail or miniature and compel readers to click on them or even ‘like’ them. This led to trends like bold typography, hand-lettering, minimalistic backgrounds, botanical illustrations, and more so as to catch the reader’s eye as they scrolled past thousands of covers.
Now, as a result of the pandemic and social distancing, most people have resorted to purchasing or borrowing books online. Book covers have gained more importance than ever as readers first examine the cover on Amazon or Indiebound before diving into the synopsis.
- We Cast A Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin (Design by Rodrigo Corral)
- Tears of the TrufflePig, Fernando A. Flores (Design by Na Kim)
- Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss (Design by Alex Merto)
- Life Support, Edited by Julia Copus (Design by Helen Crawford-White)
- Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi (Design by Helen Yentus)