In the early days of the paper book, the purpose of a book cover was about construction – it was for protection of the very expensive printed or hand-made pages inside it. Only occasionally identifying the title and author, books were luxury items with hand-bound leather covers.

But by the end of the Victorian era, with the rise of consumer culture, bookmakers figured out that book covers were great marketing spaces.

By the time paper books were stocked alongside tens of thousands of other titles in big-box bookstores as well as online on Amazon, marketing and design teams created covers with six clear goals in mind:

  1. Intrigue potential buyers.
  2. Reflect the content or highlight the distinctive feature of the book.
  3. Appeal to customers.
  4. Versatile design. Cover art appears in more places than on books. Cover art needs to be effective in both in a thumbnail and larger-than-life on a poster.
  5. Obey the 30-foot rule. The 30-foot rule states that a cover needs to make an impact at a distance, that distance is about 30-feet.
  6. Appropriate for the target market.

Today, with the incredibly fast rise of the e-book, you could add another consideration to that list:

  1. Multi-device design. Whether it is a black and white e-ink screen, an iPad RGB colour screen, or a paperback cover, your cover design is the symbol representing your book – it has to look good.

No matter who is designing your cover, a publisher, a freelance designer, or yourself, if you refer to this list when thinking about how it will hold up in the marketplace, you’ll be ahead of much of your competition.

If you would like to enquire about Read Owl’s design services please click here.

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