Covers

Why Do So Many Book Covers Look the Same? Blame Getty Images.

25 September 2019

From AIGA Eye on Design:

If you’re caught in Los Angeles traffic or awaiting a New York subway, odds are good that one of Matthias Clamer’s images is right there with you. Clamer photographs the promotional stills for a ton of network, studio, and streaming platform productions, from Fargo and Atlanta to Shadows and Glow. At any given moment, three or four posters featuring his photography dominate skylines and tunnels. For Clamer, the novelty of seeing them has understandably worn off a bit.

“In L.A. and New York, you see the same poster, like 30 times,” he said from his home in Los Angeles. “They plaster all the subway stations and buses. If it’s something you love, then you’re proud.”

But until I reached out to him, Clamer wasn’t aware that an image he took 15 years ago was ubiquitous in a different, perhaps more permanent, universe. It’s titled, “Naked Woman Sleeping on Gravel,” and can be found on the Getty Images website, along with 1,612 other Clamer images available for rights-managed exclusive usage. It also serves as the dominant art on the cover of at least 11 books.

The book cover design world, it turns out, has something of an all-star squad of stock and archival image that show up on book covers time and time again. James Morrison, an editor, designer, and avid reader who lives in Adelaide, Australia, has been tracking the squad for about two decades. “I think the first one I spotted was a photo called, ‘Man in Fog,’ from 1935, by Arthur Tanner,” Morrison says.

. . . .

“Man in Fog” delivers exactly what the title promises—a shadowy figure, noir to the grayscale bone, smoking a pipe in the inky foreground. It does not take a decoder ring to figure out why such a mysterious man would land on the cover of a slew of sleuth novels by the likes of Agatha Christie, Alan Furst, Somerset Maugham, and Georges Simeon. Some of Simeon’s series of Inspector Maigret tales feature a cropped “Man in Fog” as a logo in the upper left hand corner, which is where Morrison first spied him. An image like “Man in Fog” can be quite evocative, Morrison said, until you start seeing it everywhere. “And the more I looked, the more books featuring it I found,” he said. “This would have been around 20 years ago. It was only when I started blogging, very late in the day, that I had an outlet to inflict this on other people.”

Link to the rest at AIGA Eye on Design

You CAN Tell an (e)Book by Its Cover

29 August 2019

From The Book Designer:

While the truism “You can’t tell a book by its cover” holds true in most of our lives, one place where it doesn’t, ironically, is in publishing.

Oh, it’s still true — the cover doesn’t necessarily communicate what’s inside (though it should). But potential readers ignore it almost universally — especially when it comes to ebooks.

The cover is the first and (in many cases) most important piece of information those readers get about a title. This time out, I’m going to look at what should go into designing a cover that works for, rather than against, your ebook.

. . . .

Whatever format a book is in (print, audio, or ebook), the cover has a very important job — apart from and in addition to being visually attractive. As readers of TheBookDesigner.com probably already know, that job falls into several very important parts. It must communicate:

  • The genre/subgenre of the book
  • The tone of the book
  • The subject matter of the book

A cover makes a promise. It tells the reader very clearly — through words, but also through design — exactly what they’re going to read.

. . . .

There’s no mistaking a Harlequin Romance book. The covers regularly feature virile, bare-chested men and beautiful women, themselves often less than fully clothed. Harlequin’s Historical imprint features similar characters, but with clothing from the English Regency, the Middle Ages, or Hollywood’s Golden Era. The colors will be bright and running toward the warm side of the color wheel.

It’s easy for non-fans (and non-authors) to make fun of such covers, but they’re an important part of Harlequin’s huge success. They communicate to the potential reader with great efficiency exactly what kind of book it is they’re going to be getting if they purchase it. The promise they’re making is extremely clear.

. . . .

There is one major distinction between ebook and print covers, however, that you really should bear in mind as you are creating your own cover (whether you are the designer yourself, or you’ve hired someone else to do the work for you). It’s kind of an obvious distinction, but it’s an important one, nonetheless.

Print covers are designed to be seen person on a book shelf or table — whether at a book store, a library, or a friend’s living room.

They are designed to be seen at full size, up close. Whether it’s a 6″x9″ trade paperback or a 8″x10″ picture book, it’s meant to be picked up and examined in detail.

Ebook covers, on the other hand, are largely seen at thumbnail size in a list of other ebooks, or at best at fairly small scale.

. . . .

So, an ebook cover should be clean, attractive and easy to read at thumbnail size. Even at that small scale, it should promise the correct genre, tone, and subject matter, so your reader won’t be disappointed.

You may decide to use higher contrast (though I think that might help sell your print book as well). To fit the online bookstores’ thumbnail image slot, its dimensions should be 1.6:1, with a long side of at least 2400 pixels — which means that an ideal size would be 1500 pixels by 2400 pixels (or larger).

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

The OP includes good illustrations of the difference between the design of the ebook cover and the pbook cover of the same title.

 

Animated Ebook Cover

27 July 2019

Amazon Publishing has created an animated cover for its listing of Patricia Cornwell’s Quantum.

The book description includes the following:

Kindle in Motion

This book can be read on any device, including Kindle E-readers. It may include art, animation, or video features that can be viewed on certain Fire tablets and the free Kindle app for iOS and Android. You can switch features on or off at any time.

Here’s a link to the book page for Quantum and here’s a link to other examples of Kindle in Motion.

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Should Authors Have More Control over Their Covers?

19 June 2019

From Nathan Bransford:

It often comes as a surprise to people that authors in the traditional book world don’t have that much control over their book cover.

Approval is rare. Consultation is more common, but how meaningful and sincere that consultation is vary greatly. (I liked to joke when I was an agent that authors are often consulted on a scale of love to simply adore).

So bestselling author Daniel José Older caused a stir when, in a thread urging authors to not take what they’re offered at face value, he urged authors to fight for approval over their cover:

. . . .

. . . .

Should authors have control over their covers?

I’m somewhat split on this one.

On the one hand, publishers really do have a great deal of expertise on covers. They have a sense of what’s worked in the past, they know the tastes of key accounts (for instance, if Target or Barnes & Noble doesn’t like your cover, guess what, your cover is getting changed), and the people who source and design the covers are enormously talented.

On the other hand… in my opinion it’s still more art than science, and I don’t know that publishers are quite rigorous enough in the way they bring data and A/B testing to bear with covers (I’d love to be corrected on this if I’m wrong). I’ve also seen authors get pigeonholed with their covers in seriously unfortunate ways.

And fundamentally, even if publishers did bring more data and objectivity to bear, that expertise still skews toward looking backward rather than forward. What’s worked in the past isn’t necessarily an indicator of what will work in the future. Some of the most iconic cover designs in history were marked departures from what came before and were simply great design and true to the book.

To me, it’s authors who are most in tune with what note their book is trying to strike. Authors may not be graphic design or product marketing experts and they should be humble about that, but they are in tune with some ineffable cultural chords.

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

PG says those who fall into the “let the publisher decide on the cover” side of this argument are operating from an unstated assumption that publishers are good at what they do. They know their business.

PG can respond with confidence, “This is not always the case.”

Sometimes, publishers do a terrible job with a book. From editing to proofing to marketing to accounting, sometimes publishers perform in a horribly inept manner.

Large publishers, small publishers, established publishers, new publishers can and do make idiotic decisions and stupid mistakes. The more such decisions are challenged and mistakes exposed, the more vigorously the idiots defend them.

PG found a nice comparison of Malpractice vs. Negligence in lay terms at a site called Diffen:

Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. In tort law, negligence applies to harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.

Malpractice is a type of negligence; it is often called “professional negligence”. It occurs when a licensed professional (like a doctor, lawyer or accountant) fails to provide services as per the standards set by the governing body (“standard of care”), subsequently causing harm to the plaintiff.

Link to the rest at Diffen

When a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, an engineer, etc., fails to act in accordance with the standards of her/his profession, they are subject to being sued for malpractice.

When anyone acts in a negligent manner and someone is harmed, generally, they may be sued to obtain compensation for the consequences of their negligence.

Publishers are not licensed to be in the publishing business by any government authority (at least in the US), so, technically, there is no such thing as publishing malpractice right now.

However, publishers hold themselves out to be knowledgeable professionals operating in the publishing business. Why else would an author ever approach a publisher with a manuscript if not to have the manuscript professionally published in a competent manner?

If we apply the Negligence definition above to someone (or a group of someones) who says, “I am a publisher,” what do we get?

PG suggests the following definition for negligence by a publisher:

Failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances when the person is representing her/him/itself to be a publisher and entering into contracts to publish manuscripts owned by others.

Given that standard of care, PG suggests that publishers large and small regularly act in a negligent manner, thereby harming authors.

Back to the OP – A book’s cover design is perhaps the single most important element in the marketing and selling of a book.

The cover design stops (or doesn’t stop) someone browsing through the world’s largest bookstore, Amazon. In an online or a physical bookstore, instead of seeing a single book, a potential purchaser is usually presented with a group of books to choose from, and, hominids being primarily visual creatures, the cover design – color, artwork, formatting of title, etc. – is the most eye-catching element of the book. If the cover is off-putting or bland, the potential purchaser is likely to move on to something that looks more interesting at first glance.

A good argument can be made that the author’s name and reputation is even more important than the cover design, but PG suggests this standard only applies to books written by authors whose names are recognized by a reasonably large number of readers, a number large enough to constitute a commercially useful target market.

A commercially useful target market must be much larger for an author who is commercially published (many mouths demanding to be fed at the publisher) than it is for an indie author.

So, generally speaking, other than for a relatively small number of authors, a book’s cover design is the single most important element in the marketing and selling of a book that is commercially published.

Perhaps an author is independently wealthy and writes as a hobby.

That person does not need to worry about covers.

Every other author has a cogent business requirement for a good cover. Just as the author should be consulted about recommended changes in the manuscript (and have ultimate veto power), the author should be consulted and have veto power about the cover.

We’re getting down to the bottom of the list of rational reasons a publisher might not want to give an author any say about the cover of the author’s book.

This last reason is:

“What if the author is a crazy person?”

PG turns to one of the fundamental business principles that govern his legal practice:

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How Does Color Affect Your Potential Customers?

5 June 2019

From ReadWrite:

Color design can be an effective marketing tool if used correctly. Acting directly on the subconscious of the site visitor, the color in web design can form a positive attitude to the product, trust, and positive emotions that cause a person to make a purchase and believe your brand.

When a person first enters the site, he intuitively perceives the picture as a whole. Within the next 1-2 seconds, the client decides to stay and explore the resource or to close the tab and go back to the search results. If the color design of the online business is chosen and implemented correctly, the user will more likely remain on the page.

. . . .

The principles of color combinations originate from Newton’s color ring. Of the three primary colors, intermediary ones are produced by mixing, which is located in the adjacent ring segments. To choose colors, use one of the following seven schemes:

Monochromatic – for design creation, one primary color is chosen, and additional colors are formed from its hues (saturation and brightness are adjusted).
Complementary – in this case, the color selection for the web site begins with the choice of two contrasting tones, which are complemented by several more derived shades.
Split – this scheme is similar to the complementary one, but one of the contrasting colors is replaced by two similar ones from the adjacent segments.
Analog – according to this scheme, 3 colors are chosen from the neighboring segments: one is used as the main one, and the other two play the role of additional accents.
Triad – the designer takes three colors that are equally distant from each other, and on the basis of them forms a color palette.
Rectangle – here, four colors are used, and each pair is chosen according to the principle of contrast.
Quadrate – the scheme resembles the previous one, but all colors are equally distant from each other.

. . . .

In developing the color scheme of the site you should not be guided solely by your own preferences. After all, the site is created, first of all, for the user. How to choose the right color for a site is a question of understanding the psychological aspect of the influence of colors and using this knowledge in accordance to your goals. There are three methods for choosing the color of the site which we will discuss in detail below.

. . . .

Colors for website design should correspond to its theme or product/services to which it is dedicated. For example, purple is the traditionally chosen shade for perfume sites, a site about auto lease deals is difficult to imagine without the use of dark blue or gray colors in the design.

. . . .

The site, designed with a large variety of colors, is hard and even repulsive: getting to it, the user wants to quickly close this tab. If there are few colors, the site may look monotonous, and the user’s attention will be dispersed. The optimal working palette for the designer is 3-4 colors:

Main. The basic color in the design, which highlights the main content on the pages.

Additional. Color to highlight background information, which is advantageously combined with the main color, complementing it.

Background. Calm shade on which the main and additional colors are not lost.

Accentuating. Contrast primary color that attracts the visitor’s attention to key elements of the site.

. . . .

Color perception is not constant. How a person responds to the same color depends on many factors. But still, before choosing a color for a site, you need to examine the typical associations for each color that are specific for most people.

Link to the rest at ReadWrite

PG says authors should be color conscious in all of an author’s marketing activities.

These will include:

  • Website
  • Book Covers
    • Individual Books
    • Series
  • Email Newsletters/Announcements
  • Online and Meatspace Advertising
  • Online Product Listings – Amazon, Nook, etc.

Here are some tools that might help with your color choices:

  • Colorpick Eyedropper – Have you ever been online and found an image, website, etc., etc., that includes colors you absolutely love? Here’s an app that lets you determine exactly what colors are being used and provides the necessary color codes to let you reproduce those colors in your own marketing. https://go.shr.lc/2QNwQEp

On the left below is the color of the font PG uses for The Passive Voice title at the top of the blog and also the background of the post section. Its hex color code is #f9eacc. If you put that color code into your browser, you’ll see the same color. On the right is the brown color PG uses for the headlines of each blog post – #723419

 


 

  • Palette Creator is another Chrome app that will pull all the colors out of a photo and save them. https://go.shr.lc/2WKFYPn

Here’s an example of Palette Creator in action:

Here’s a photo:

Here’s the 16-color palette that Palette Creator pulled from the photo:

You can use some or all of the palette colors to create a Macaw-like image.


 

  • If you’re worried about correctly identifying what colors go with other colors, there are several online color palette creators. Here’s Coolorshttps://go.shr.lc/2QPD4U2

PG will pull the dark blue color – #23508D – from the Macaw palette above and use it as the base color of a complete palette. Here’s what Coolors came up with. The original dark blue is the color strip with the lock symbol on it:

Don’t like this one? Hit the spacebar while Cooler is running and see a different palette based on the dark blue.


 

Below is the opening screen – PG has dropped the same dark blue color code into the website – 23508D as a base color for Paletton. You can barely see it at the tip of the white arrow.

Below, you can see the upward arrow pointing to the Monochromatic palette. On the right side of the screen you see a variety of colors that are complementary to the original dark blue color we’ve been working with.

The white arrow below is now pointing toward the Triad setting. You can see the results on the right side of the screen. You can also see three little gray dots on the color wheel over the original blue plus an old gold and a light umber color added to make up the Triad.

Adobe also has a palette design page at https://color.adobe.com/create. It’s easy to use, somewhat like Coolors. If you have a subscription to Creative Cloud, Adobe’s pallet design can be easily imported into other paid Adobe products for use there.

 

The Last Art Nouveau/Art Deco Post for Awhile

1 June 2019

PG should, perhaps, clarify that Art Nouveau and Art Deco are related but separate classes of images.

Art Nouveau lasted from about 1890-1910. Here are a few examples:

 

Entrance to the Paris Subway by Iste Praetor – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23491357

 

“Peacock Room 1908”
Peacock Room featuring the Princess in the Land of Porcelain painting by James McNeill Whistler
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

 

Cover of Jugend by Otto Eckmann (1896)

 

Front cover of Wren’s City Churches by Mackmurdo, a print from The Hobby Horse (England), published by G. Allen with woodcut, letterpress, mezzotint on steel.

 

Alphonse Mucha, an advertisement for Job cigarette papers

 

Now a bit of Art Deco:

 

By Weimer Pursell, silkscreen print by Neely Printing Co., Chicago – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID cph.3g11941.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12570100

 

December 1919 Vanity Fair cover by French illustrator Georges Lepape (1887-1971).

 

Curtiss Flying Service Poster, National Air & Space Museum


 

Art Deco/Art Nouveau isn’t limited to old works. Here are a couple of images from modern artists at 99Designs who may be available to create cover designs.

 

“Seductive Vintage Beer Label” ChiChiya at 99Designs https://99designs.com/profiles/3238545

 

From CIN at 99Designs
https://99designs.com/profiles/1242224

 

Another Cover for a Novel Set in the 1920’s

1 June 2019
Comments Off on Another Cover for a Novel Set in the 1920’s

PG claims no great cover expertise but thinks the 20’s-30’s look is both timeless and attractive. To his eye, this cover is an updated derivative referencing that era.

 


Art Deco Period – One of the Most Beautiful Styles in History

1 June 2019

From Widewalls:

We have recently explored the movement in decorative arts and architecture called Art Deco. We’ve touched upon the concepts and influences of one of the most beautiful styles in history. But now, we will go further and focus more on the social context of this visually stunning form, discuss its origins, time period and reflect upon its everlasting influence. Where was Art Deco period born? What circumstances led to the development of one of the most beautiful styles of artistic expression? Just how far did this obsession with beauty go? This unique art movement gripped the imagination of nations worldwide, bringing the sleek lines and decorative style to architecture, furniture, jewelry, arts, and many other forms. It has elevated the mass travel to an experience of comfort, glamor and luxury. It influenced our vision of the future and produced timeless landmarks still standing tall today. Art Deco was an eclectic style which drew upon many sources. It reflected the human need for pleasure and escape, providing a modern outlook on life. Art Deco was a celebration of life in its most luxurious form.

. . . .

It was a time of Industrial Revolution and progress, people were becoming wealthy, different generations with different prioritieswere coming to conquer the scene. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the face of the western world was changing dramatically. Known as the ‘lost generation’, those who came of age during World War I and the 1920’s wanted more from life. They were clamoring for glamour, filled with Joie de vivre, they craved the very best that life could offer. They were dubbed as the ‘lost generation’ because they rashly spent the flower of their youth, either dying before or during World War II. In between the two global conflicts, something beautiful blossomed, found its way through the prevailing mixed feelings of relief and joy, anxiety and trepidation. Art Deco was born. The style reached the apex of its popularity right in the 1920s and 1930s, with the ultimate celebration of the new designs displayed in an exhibition held in 1925 in Paris. Many international exhibitions promoted Art Deco and developed its influence, but none was more important than the one in Paris entitled the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Thousands of designs from all over Europe and beyond were brought together, gathering more than staggering 16 million visitors. This event was a pivotal one for Art Deco, marking the high point of its first phase. The show aimed to establish the pre-eminence of French taste and luxury goods. This celebration of life and taste marked Paris as one of the most fashionable cities. Paris transformed into an arts mecca. Major manufacturers, department stores, designers, avenues of boutiques and other enticing venues and happenings would draw countless visitors during the day. At night, Paris would earn its very deserving title of ‘the city of light’. Bridges, fountains, monumental gates and major landmarks would become illuminated and breathe life into the streets of the heart of France, making the entire city a blazing spectacle. Art Deco began to attain its character, the themes and formal repertoire were being established and the exhibition made an immediate impact throughout the global scene.

Link to the rest at Widewalls

Here is some of the art accompanying the OP:

 

Vogue Magazine cover (USA 1926)

 

Travel Poster

 

Architectural Detail, Lobby of The Chicago Board of Trade, built in 1930

Link to the rest at Widewalls

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