Judge a Book by Its Cover: Book Cover Design Trends that Work

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For hundreds of years, the book cover’s role was to protect the usually handmade or printed pages. But now, book covers play a pivotal role in marketing the book. Like SEO strategies and web design in digital marketing, book cover designs help create a pre-launch buzz for a book and attract more readers.

Nowadays, book designers push boundaries and break the rules to create compelling covers. Whether you’re a writer planning to publish soon or a new designer in this field, here are some trends to inspire you.

Bold typography

From billboard ads to book covers, bold typography has always been a critical element in graphic designs. Bold and capitalized fonts will continue to be a trend to draw the attention of potential readers, whether they are shopping in a bookstore or on a website. Bold typography can easily make a book stand out.

Rainbow colors

Muted neutrals and stark black-and-white covers are classic. But as competition gets fiercer, book cover designers gear toward the riskier choice: rainbow and vibrant colors. Two great examples are Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts and Regina Porter’s The Travelers. With a clever mix of bold typography, lines, and rainbow colors, these book covers can quickly catch anyone’s attention.

Textured covers

With the pandemic leaving bookworms shopping for their next read online, it’s more important than ever that a book cover pops on the screen. One way to achieve this is to simulate texture. More and more designers create “tactile” covers by overlapping text with graphic elements and creating a sense of depth. Look for Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bangkok Wakes to Rain or Candice Carty-Williams’s Queenie on Amazon, and you will immediately see the power of textured covers.

Found materials

Collage is a useful style to create a book cover that expresses tactile feeling and gives a strong hint about the book’s plot. Today’s designers elevate this style by using found materials to make the collage even more enjoyable. For instance, Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police has a cover that features scraps of paper filled with sketches overlapping with a clear photograph of a woman. It’s a strong representation of the novel’s plot set on an island where people are missing specific memories.
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Handwritten fonts

Beautiful calligraphic scripts were all the rage in the 2010s. But these days, readers crave for a more natural feel, hence the trend of more “human” handwriting on book covers. Looking familiar, handwritten texts of titles and author names help readers immediately connect with the cover.

Retro elements

In today’s world full of uncertainties, many people cling to nostalgia—and cover designers recognize that. Fonts like retro-esque serifs, pop art, and vibrant colors popular in book covers and old movie posters in the ‘70s or ‘80s are expected to come back in new book covers, even if the plots are set in modern times.

Book cover designs will not go through a radical change. If anything, they take something that worked in the past and elevate it to make sure readers either pick the book off the shelf or add it to their online cart.

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