Creating a cover page design for a book is not an easy task. According to Forster (2012, p. 1), the cover design of the book determines how people will perceive its content. In other words, it is the first thing the people will look at in order to judge the content of the book. Being such, the cover page of a book is the common dictating factor of whether the book will have high sales or not. As a writer and publisher of a book, therefore, one must always step into the shoes of the readers and imagine what will the latter feel or think about the contents of the books, basing solely on the book’s cover page design. Some of the essential factors that are considered making a cover page design follows.
Warde (1955) gives a very interesting perspective on how to create an excellent cover page design for a book. “Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain. There is nothing simple or dull in achieving the transparent page. Vulgar ostentation is twice as easy as discipline.” In order to understand Warde it is first important to understand the difference between a “connoisseur of wine” and an ordinary wine drinker. An ordinary wine drinker, may not give as much value and appreciation to the wine. His satisfaction in drinking the wine may be dependent of several factors that are not related to the wine itself but on other factors. Such “other factors” may include the vessel or the goblet used for drinking it, or the people he or she will drink the wine with. A “connoisseur of wine,” on other hand, derives pleasure from the wine itself, so he wants to appreciate every characteristic of the wine. Hence, he will select the crystal clear goblet as it shows the entire beauty of the wine – its color, taste, and flavor. In other words the “connoisseur of wine” will choose the goblet that will show all the characteristics of the wine. The gold-goblet, while being more expensive and more luxuries than the crystal goblet, will not display the wine’s color – which is one of the wines essential characteristics.
Just like a “connoisseur of wine” who wishes to see all the characteristics of the wine, so must a book reader desire to see all the characteristics of a book without reading its entirety yet. The book cover design creator must always bear this in mind always in order to make sure that he or she creates the book cover design that will reveal all the essential characteristics or information contained with the book. I aim to exemplify and demonstrate this concept in book cover design in the book cover which I created. Lines, colors, shapes, and words permeate the entire book cover. I make all this elements work together to make the book stand out among other books and at the same time communicate the information in it. I have carefully selected the colors for the cover page. While deciding on the colors I ask myself, what color would attract book buyers (The MANA Sunriser 2012, p. 1)? So I thought of red, because red is an attention getter. Red also tells one aspect about the content of the book. The book, according to the words at the page will contain emotions of sadness and happiness - it is both sad and funny. The color red has different feeling associated with it. Sometimes, red is the color of happiness, sometimes, it the color for bravery, and sometimes it is the color for anger. Hence, red has many meaning just like the content of the book has many emotions (Color Psychology 2014, p. 1). I want the prospective reader to feel these emotions as he or she looks at the cover of the book and wonder what the content of the book is. So the use of color red has two purposes, therefore – to obtain the attention of the customer and to communicate the feelings that the reader will feel as he or she reads the book (Duxburry 2013, p. 1).
Curved lines are dominant in the book cover design in order to reflect the title. While straight lines are synonymous to uprightness, curved lines are synonymous for twistedness. Since the book contains the story about Hilary, who constantly sacrifice the core values of reporting just to get money, the curved lines perfectly symbolizes her. In accordance with this I decided to put some wavy lines on the back cover and the title was written using curved letters. Other characters in the book also show the same disposition as Hilary; hence the curved lines also describe them well. In accordance with the aim of describing the characters in the book through its cover design, I also have three caricatures in the front cover and their faces are covered with bags. I was also careful not to make the book look like children’s book due to my color preference. While it is true that the water wave-like drawings may look like drawing that one can see in children’s books, I made sure that there are texts which will inform the prospective reader that the book is not for children’s use (Bell n.d., p. 3, “Early Children’s Books”) . The back cover page gives a synopsis and background of each of the important characters in the book. The said descriptions are clear enough so as to make sure that the reader will know the book is not for children. I have also included the themes in the front cover page for the same purpose.
All in all the color, the curved lines, and the caricatures help engage the readers of the book emotionally. This level of engagement will help determine if they will buy the book or not. It will also determine whether they will enjoy reading the book or not. Moreover, the cover design that I made has the modern day feel in it. No one would think that the content of the book will come from dates aside from this modern day era. This is because it does not show letters of the gothic style (Bell 2013, p. 5, “Guttenberg and the Gothic”). The letters were more like the usual fonts that you will see in a computer keyboard or a word processing application. The boundary of each line is also well-pronounced giving the feel that the image was printed using modern methods of printing – accurate and precise. I have taken into consideration time in creating the book cover design because this is evident among the samples given on lecture modules. The cover design made by William Morris is made during later dates due to the fact that they contain gothic art forms and the themes such as chivalry dominate the cover pages’ images.
My cover book design also suggests that the content of the book are fictional but the themes therein and the events therein are observable in the real world. As I compare with the lectures material of Simon Bell (n.d, p. 2, “How Covers Work”), I can say that my cover book design is more realistic than the book cover entitled, “Paul Auster.” Paul Auster has that dreamy feeling due to the green color and the low contrast between colors and lines. While the cover shows the picture of a real building, the blurriness of the images gives the feeling of being foreign, it more like the scene from the move “The matrix”; hence, a person who looks at it will instantly feel that the book is science fiction.
Note that the overall appearance of the book cover design is not as expensive as other books such as those made by William Morris whose book covers, despite of being very attractive and beautiful did not sell much because they were very expensive (Module Lecture References “William Morris”). Nevertheless, when it comes to emotionally engaging the prospective reader through the cover page design, I can say that William Morris is very successful (Book Hitch 2009, p. 1). As I looked at the many cover page designs which he made, I can instantly feel that there is something dramatic about their respective contents. By simply looking at the dramatic scene of the “Pre-Raphaelite Movement” cover design, one will sure realize that its content will cause tears to flow as themes of chivalry and the loss of loved ones are reflected in it.
Going back to the explanation of Warde on the gold and crystal goblet, I can say that my book cover design is like the crystal goblet which connoisseurs of wine choose. Both the crystal goblet and my book cover design emphasize on the qualities of that which they contain inside.
Using the lessons from the class lecture and the activity of making a book cover page design, I conclude that creating an excellent cover design necessitates the consideration of many factors. Such factors include how we should use lines, images, and colors to reflect what is inside the book. One must also consider the time frame of the story or the information in the book. I also conclude that the book cover page must reflect the essential themes and information which the prospected reader may read within the pages of the book. Such information include the time depicted or used in the book content. The cover page must attract prospected readers into buying it.
Book Hitch. 2009. Cover design: What sells a book? 1 September. Viewed 21 June 2014. < http://www.bookhitch.com/archives/092009a-cover.aspx>.
Color Psychology. 2014. Meaning of Colors in Color Psychology. Viewed 21 June 2014. <http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/meaning-of-colors.html>.
Duxburry, E. 2013. 12 Critical Details to know before designing a Book Cover. Hire the World. Viewed 20 June 2014. <http://www.hiretheworld.com/blog/designers/design-resources/12-critical-details-to-know-before-designing-a-book-cover>.
The MANA Sunriser. 2012. Book Cover Design: A Key Factor in the Self-Publishing Process. 5 July. Viewed 22 June 2014. <http://manasunriser.blogspot.com/2012/07/book-cover-design-key-factor-in-self.html>.
Warde, B. 1900 – 1969. The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should be Invisible. Viewed 20 June 2014. <http://gmunch.home.pipeline.com/typo-L/misc/ward.htm>.
Warde, E.M. 2012. Judge your book by its cover. Folio Literary Management. Viewed 22 June 2014. <http://www.foliolit.com/resources/judge-your-book-by-its-cover/>.
References from the module lectures
Simon Bell – How Covers Work
Simon Bell – Early Children’s Books
Simon Bell – Guttenberg and the Gothic