Anatomy of book cover designs: What made it and what died?

Anatomy of book cover designs: What made it and what died?

Despite a steady rise in the popularity of e-books and a surge in ownership of electronic readers and tablets, real dead-tree paper books are not about the exit the scene any time soon.

And while most people don’t judge a book by its cover, there’s a good reason why book covers remain a design mainstay: Apart from mere aesthetics, book covers continue to exercise a huge influence over book sales — whether for new entries into the marketplace or reprints of out-of-copyright historical titles. Let’s face it: A new cover can make an old book seem new and significant — yet again.

For designers who want to get in on that action, or who are already deriving part of their living from designing book covers, HOW Magazine is offering up an excerpt of its Under the Covers: Book Cover Design Inspiration as a free download from Print Magazine — showcasing both the commercially successful covers alongside related rejects, with examples from Penguin, Vintage/Random House and other literary designers. 

Book 1

Even for book readers who would not venture so much as a sketch, this 17-page download is full of fun covers in every genre, from Penguin Classic to romance, nice tries to failures. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy in some cases to see why one cover made the cut and another failed to see the light of day.

For visual folk who like actual reading matter with their images, the download also includes articles like, The Seduction of Romance-Novel Book Jacket Design, How to Design a Book Cover Good Enough for Penguin, Painting Book Covers’ Design and Kill Your Darlings: The Best Book Cover Design May Not See the Light of Day.

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It’s yours for the price of your name and email address. A more complete version of this how-to is 34 pages, and includes additional articles, interviews, analysis, and of course, pictures, now for half price ($5).

  Under the Covers: Book Cover Design Inspiration [HOW]

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