Book Cover Design… Judging a Book by its Cover

I think I’m going to start rating book cover designs. Because I have studied Graphic Design, the way a book cover looks is important to me. Even though I read all my books in digital form, I still look at the cover. The way a book cover looks is a BIG deal. The deciding factor to buy a book or not may come down to the book cover.
I know. It seems unfair to judge a book by its cover but it has been done since the creation of books. The saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” originated because only wealthy people could afford books at first because it took a lot of work to make books. Before the Gutenberg Press was invented, books were handwritten by special scribes. Since wealthy people and royalty were the ones buying books, expensive jewels and scrollwork were pressed into the covers. Later, people tried to make cheap knock-offs of the books by using fake jewels on the cover of a book. The inside of the book could be shabbily written with lots of mistakes so people had to be careful of what they were buying and that is where the saying came from originally.
A lot of work goes into the making of a book cover. Authors use publishers. Publishers hire graphic designers who specialize in book cover design. There are so many steps involved that I can’t list them all. Well, I could list them but some of it would absolutely bore you…things like the editorial process, editorial meetings, hiring models and copyright laws.

There is only so much that can be done with the cover of a romance book. When you think about it, the cover consists of four parts:
1. The picture of the couple or sometimes, it is just of one of the characters. It is rare to ever see a romance novel’s book cover without some sort of figurative image. It’s been done but romance readers like to see either a couple or an individual on the cover. It’s important that the person or persons on the cover be attractive. If the story is about modern times, the couple need to be wearing updated clothing and their hairstyles need to be current. I remember when Fabio was on the cover of just about every romance book on the shelf. I’m sorry but to me, Fabio looks like a spider monkey with long hair. I have never thought he was attractive. Authors tend to like men with long hair but not all women like men with long hair. I’m one of those who like both depending on how the man looks with it. A hairy chest on a man just grosses me out but some women like it. I think it is important that the people on the cover match what the people in the story look like. It’s so disappointing when the characters don’t match the cover.
2. The typography – Typography is the writing and how it is displayed. It includes the title, author and any other information that is typed on the cover. The title needs to be clear and legible. It actually makes me angry when I cannot read the title or author of the book on the cover because the designer used the wrong typography. There are so many thing that could go wrong with typography like using the wrong font, size or color. It sounds simple to just choose a font, a size and a color and slap it on the book but there is so much more to the process than that. There are things like drop-shadow and borders that can help the visibility of the font but this isn’t about the technical process. The typography is just one of the important parts of the cover.
3. The background imagery – Whether it be a landscape, abstract art or just a solid background, the background enhances the foreground image.
4. The colors – The color of the images and font give the book cover it’s overall mood and feeling. A vampire romance will use dark colors as opposed to bright colors or pastels like pink. Or the cover could be in black and white. I’ve seen some pretty impressive black and white book covers.

I haven’t quite figured out my rating system yet. I really don’t like structured rating systems. I think will probably just go with a little blurb about what I like and don’t like about the book cover.

What do you think?
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