by Maria

July 7, 2020

When you reach out to read a book, what is the first thing that greets you?

The book cover! 

You appreciate or dislike it by how you see its physical appearance or how it struck you. However, have you ever thought that what you see is not everything and that there is truly more to it than meets the eye?

In this post, let us examine what book covers present us in terms of two things:

  • First, the obvious or that which we easily notice;
  • Second, the subtle or that which takes some discerning or a critical eye to see through or appreciate it. 

Book Cover Elements: The Obvious

The apparent or obvious elements of book covers are mostly these three:

Element #1 – Title and subtitle

The title is the name of your book. It is usually the dominant element of your book cover (although in many instances, the author’s name is). Many titles, most especially non-fiction, are straightforward. You get what the book is all about as soon as you read its title. It may be one, two, three or more words whose meaning may have to be deciphered.

Book titles are important and necessary. Your book has to have one. The subtitle, however, is not compulsory but optional. You may or may not have one.

What’s the value of having a subtitle? Your subtitle puts more meat on your title. It defines the slant of your book, explains its content further and provides more details. This is especially most helpful if you have a book title containing a word or two.

For instance, how would target readers know what your book “Hurry” is all about? If it’s fiction, your choice of image would most probably reveal more about it. For non-fiction, it may be more daunting and can be confusing. Attaching a subtitle that says “How to Do Things More Quickly in Your Own Terms and Succeed at What You Do” would most probably help clarify your book’s content.

Element #2 – Author’s name

This is the name of the book writer or, in some instances, the publisher. As an author, you may use your real name or choose a literary pen name, fictitious name or pseudonym.

Element #3 – Image

This may be a picture, image or symbol that would depict your book’s content or provide a clue or hint. It may be a single image or symbol, a collection or collage of images, or a composite image.

A composite image is what you get after combining various visual elements from separate sources to get a desired effect or picture. Graphic artists achieve this through compositing (with the use of photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop) to create the illusion that all those elements belong to or are parts of the same scene.

So we’re done with the obvious elements.

Book Cover Elements: The Subtle

Now, make a guess on the subtle elements of book covers. They are those that you may not even know or suspect exist but are positioned or placed there for some reasons. The impact that they create is more psychological or at the level of the unconscious or subconscious.

I can think of four:

  • Color – You may not always be aware of this but colors have a subtle effect on your psychological, physiological and behavioral functions. For instance, red evokes excitement, energy, and warmth. Yellow stimulates happiness, laughter, and cheer. You may read some more about color psychology here.
  • Typography – You may use two types of fonts in your book cover. No more than three. Otherwise, you’ll get a messy and incohesive effect.
  • Space – Empty spaces give a break to your reader’s vision. They separate each one from the other. Those near or within large chunks of negative spaces gain more importance or attention.
  • Composition – This is how you arrange, place or size the visual elements or parts of your design so that the most important get dominance and all the rest contribute to it. This includes images, fonts, space, color, and everything else.

What do you think?

Does this article make any sense?

Please comment below to share your thoughts with us. 

About the author 

Maria

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