Judging a book by its cover?

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Who hasn’t been drawn into a book by its tempting cover? Some covers are so beautiful, they’re art works in their own right. But book cover has a lot of work to do besides being a beauty. It should really be the visual blurb of the book.

I think the best covers tell a story, and particularly choose a moment, where something is just about to happen, so you’re drawn in, and you want to read.” Ken Steacy, author

A book cover is a form of illustration and as such it should combine a huge amount of information in just a few elements that will fit in the space it is allowed. This places great demands on the cover designer. Readers’ ability to understand the illustration depend on its spatial organization and its composition. All the elements of the illustration work towards the intended message: the directional lines, the colours, the lighting, the empty spaces.

The way these elements are arranged have an effect on the feel of the illustration and thus the book itself. If the elements form a pyramid, they will convey a sense of hierarchy. Vertical or diagonal lines will create tension. Empty spaces can accentuate the message given in the filled space. If there are converging lines, a reader’s attention will automatically be drawn to the meeting point.

Judging a book by its cover? Read, Write and Publish
The Belgian Comic Center holds an exhibition on book covers until May 2017 in Brussels.

Often book covers are produced under tight schedules. It might be that the book has not even been finished yet, when the cover is being designed. Book cover is essential in the marketing of a book. It is the first thing that draws the attention of a book buyer. No wonder then that creating a cover is an exercise in sociology and psychology. A cover should create an ambiance that is full of promise. It should get a reader to identify with the book and engage with the emotions created in the cover to generate interest and to trigger a purchase.

All the elements of the cover work together to create this reaction: the illustration, the title and subtitle, the author’s name and the publisher’s name, the typefaces and fonts used, aso.

On a good front cover, the drawing will run from left to right. This is also how we read, so the intention is clear: To encourage us to open the book and to read it.” Ferry Van Vosselen, author

The great scam

All the while when creating the best possible book cover, one should not forget the contents it is holding. Can there be a worse moment than being allured to a book by its promising cover, only to realize the insides are nothing of the like given out on the front?

This is the kind of scam that a reader finds hard to forget and it certainly discredits, if not the author, the publisher, who is usually responsible for the cover.

Susan

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