A New Trend I’ve Observed in Covers

From Mad Genius Club:

I want to talk about a new trend I’ve observed in covers, and how it applies to much of the greater world out there. I.e. how the new trend in covers is just a new way that traditional publishing has come up with to screw itself and the entire field of writing over.

They will have these brilliant ideas, and indies need to be aware of them. More importantly, they need to be aware these things are going on in other fields too, and having much the same effect.

So–

If you have been alive a long time, or even if you “just” read books for a long time, you’re probably aware that there are trends in covers, as there are in everything else. In covers, though, particularly in the era of mega-chain bookstores, that “look” not only tended/tends to be more uniform, but it changes completely.

. . . .

In Portugal, for a while, the trend for mystery books was picture of random body part. No, not dismembered, just, you know, so blown up as to be meaningless. Like it might be a picture of some chick’s foot arch blown up till you looked at it wand went “Leg? finger?” against a bold color background and surrounded in a silver frame.

Ages have trends. I’ve disapproved without being particularly affected or interested when Baen decided to try out the new trend on some of their books, the trend at the time being something picked up from literary, which was “part of the image blown up to take up the whole cover of the book. Usually a portion or a woman’s face or eyes.” Tres …. literary and refined looking.

I actually liked the old style Baen book covers, some of which were magnificent (I rather like the original cover for DST) and some of which were appalling, but all of which harked back to the pulp years and carried an implication of “fun”.

. . . .

The newest trend is more …. interesting. I first noticed it with an indie writer, Henry Vogel. His covers look like aged paper covers, down to the creases. And the fact one of his series is called Sword and Planet Adventures, clearly evoking planet stories, it can’t be a coincidence. Note that it didn’t offend me, because I thought “Well, his books are pretty close to those covers in feel and style, so…”

I mean, I know when I went through cover-design-course I was told to make sure that my covers looked like they belong to now and not “they came from Guttenberg!” BUT for a certain type of book, perhaps marketing it as belonging to another era works best?

. . . .

I kept running into more of these covers from other houses. Covers that explicitly try to look like they’re at the latest in the 50s.

Look, as a marketing strategy it’s brilliant. And stupid as heck.

Why?

Well, because now people are getting used to looking at Amazon for books that they remember reading/used to read/etc. they will be drawn to covers that are what they remember when they fell in love with a genre.

The problem is this: for most of the mainstream publishing, the contents won’t match the cover.

And yes, I can see them totally preening and going “if we get the rubes to look at our much superior product, they’ll love it.”

Because, you know, in the industry, it’s never about publishing what people want to read. It’s about “educating” the public. Which has taken them from 100K plus printruns for midlist to 10k printruns for high list.

The problem is it’s not a business plan. It’s a virtue signaling plan. By people so provincial they all graduated from the same cluster of colleges and all live in the same cluster of cities. And don’t know anyone different, even though the majority of the public IS different.

It will pay off. Brilliantly. For a very brief time. People will buy the books thinking it’s just like the stuff they loved. And be revolted. And throw it against the wall.

Link to the rest at Mad Genius Club

Following are a few of the Henry Vogel covers mentioned in the OP:

Book Cover 101: Covering A Cross-Genre Novel

From Writers in the Storm:

Here on Writers In The Storm we’ve talked about putting the promise of your genre on the cover and how vital it is for selling your novel. As I’ve said before, a good cover is a contract with the reader that this story fits in the genre they’re looking for.

But what if you’ve written a cross-genre story? 

Here’s the short answer: it’s almost impossible to do both at once. You have to lean one way or another, or you’ll miss both sides.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve written a sci-fi/romance novel. Think carefully about the main story elements. Is the romance really front and center? Or is it more interstellar shenanigans with strong romantic elements?

My latest series, Raegan Reid, is a blend of urban fantasy and sci-fi. When I look at it objectively I see that it’s heavier on the urban fantasy elements. If I put a typical urban fantasy cover, a badass female protagonist standing in a sinister city landscape, and then tried to insert a futuristic element into the background, I would end up with a confused cover and no one would buy my book. It would leave both urban fantasy and science fiction readers scratching their heads, and their main thought would be: “I don’t know what that is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.”

You do not want that reaction for your book.

Steps to a successful cross-genre cover.

1. Take a step back and analyze the major story elements in your novel.

  • What genre do they belong to?
  • Which reader is it going to appeal to more?

Typically, you’ll find you’ve got more elements of one genre than the other.  

For instance, I did not lean into the science elements hard enough in my story to market it to science fiction readers. If your cover incorrectly promises your genre, you’ll end up with angry readers, bad reviews, and a mental cross beside your name when it’s seen on future books.

As a side note, some genres are more accepting of experimentation, while other genres are more purist. If you’ve read within the genres you’re publishing in—as you should have—you’ll know which is which.

2. If your story is truly evenly balanced and you can tip either way, consider which genre has the biggest audience. You are seeking the largest pool of potential readers, because a bigger pool means more potential customers.

For instance, if your sci-romance is equal parts science fiction and romance, I’d lean romance. Biggest. Genre. Ever.

If you’re still not sure, take a look at the covers from your comp authors, and see which genre they’ve chosen to highlight. If they’ve been selling well…it’s a smart move to mimic their approach.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

Does Your Cover Work In Book Thumbnail Size?

From Just Publishing Advice:

How well does your book thumbnail cover work? You might think that your cover image is fantastic. In a full-size view, it may well be.

But when it comes to book covers, the truism that people need to see something seven or eight times before they react is probably correct.

Readers looking for a new book to buy first have to notice, and then click, your thumbnail size cover to get to your buy page.

How does your tiny book cover image stack up for attracting attention-grabbing?

. . . .

Book thumbnail images are used on every book-related site you possibly think of, even on social media.

So it is vital that you consider your small image book cover size when you are making decisions about a new book cover. You need to pay attention to how your fonts and color choices look.

. . . .

Even the featured image of your book cover on your sales pages of Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers are reduced to default thumbnails.

On Amazon, your book cover is reduced to approximately 500 x 333 pixels in the top left of your book sales page. To put this in perspective, an extremely low-resolution ebook cover is around 1280 x 720 pixels.

The best way to start analyzing how well your book cover works is to open your cover file in an image editor. Then reduce the size to create a thumbnail.

Thumbnails can be very small. Start with setting your dimensions to 90 pixels wide x 144 pixels tall.

Then view the actual size. You will see your cover in an approximation of an online thumbnail. You can experiment with additional image sizes.

. . . .

It is also important to remember that on top of reducing the dimensions, all sites reduce the image quality or resolution.

It is usually, at most, 72 dpi to make sure the file size is as small as possible.

If you can also change the resolution in your image editor, it will give you a better estimation of how good, or not, it will look online.

. . . .

Quoting Amazon’s recommendations regarding Kindle book cover size, the ideal size of ebook cover art is a height/width ratio of 1.6:1.

This means that for every 1,000 pixels in width, the image should be 1,600 pixels in height.

A cover 1280 pixels wide is generally the minimum size you should use. You can use jpg, gif, bmp, or png file types.

However, the full size of your custom image upload will never be seen online.

Your original uploaded image file will be reduced to a range of additional custom thumbnail image sizes.

Each one to suit different reading devices, on-screen applications, search engines, and different website use.

Amazon automatically generates a lot of different custom thumbnail sizes on its site.

. . . .

Here are a few examples to help you understand the necessity of covers that work in small dimensions.

On the Top Charts page, covers are quite small to give the chart number significance.

New releases are shown in the most common thumbnail medium view size, which is 107px x 160 px.

Recommendations are a little smaller at 90 px  x 135 px.

Series books are usually a maximum of 135 px high.

In the You Viewed pane at the bottom of each book page, books that were viewed by people are squeezed into a 50 px x 50 px box.

That is insanely small.

Link to the rest at Just Publishing Advice

Learning About Book Covers: A Touch of Grey

From long-time visitor to TPV, Harald, a GoodReads article of an aspect of cover design PG hasn’t seen discussed elsewhere.

From GoodReads:

The Grayscale Test

Some background first. Most humans see the world via three color channels or receptors in the eye’s retina. With the Additive Color System (the one used for projected light as with TVs or LCD/LED screens and monitors), the three primary colors are Red, Green, and Blue (or “RGB”). Colors printed on paper (like paperback books) use the Subtractive Color System, which is different, although the main points below still apply in the image-making process.

[Illustration omitted]

Note that I said “most humans.” Because some have different degrees of color blindness where they have either a red/green or a blue/yellow deficit. But all humans respond instantly to differences in “contrast.” Contrast is the difference or “separateness” between two related things. But that’s a general definition. In regard to book covers, we’re talking about the contrast between the three main cover elements: main title, author’s name, and background image. Yes, there can be other elements, too (subtitle, taglines, quotes, series number, etc.), but let’s ignore those for now. If you want to catch readers’ eyes—which is one of the main functions of a book cover—then you want to increase the contrast of the main elements. And the place to start is in the pairing of the cover’s background with the title and author-name texts.

You have several options in trying to increase contrast between the background and these main text elements. You can make the text REALLY BIG. You can change the text fonts (style, weight, etc.). You can add drop shadows, panels, or outer glows. And you can play with your color selections. The latter is the focus of this post.

. . . .

Every pixel in a digital color (RGB) image—what every online (color) book cover is—can be described by the LAB Color Space model shown above. It’s a bit abstract, but what it means is that every color has three attributes: Hue, Saturation, and Brightness (aka Luminance or Lightness). The Hue is the color (is it red, purple, yellow?), and the Saturation is how “full” the color is—the farther to the outside, the “purer” the color is, the closer into the center, the grayer or weaker it is. Those two attributes are represented in the diagram above with the two “a”/”b” arrows. Don’t worry about that right now because the next part—Brightness or Lightness—is the important thing.

How light and bright is the color? Or, putting it another way, what’s the intensity of the electrons hitting the RGB phosphors on the screen you’re viewing at each point (pixel)? If full strength, it’s white or “100”. If nothing (nothing hitting the screen), it’s black or “0”. That’s the brightness range: 0-100. Every pixel of every RGB image falls somewhere along that range which is represented in the diagram by the vertical pole. That’s the “L” in LAB. And that’s all you see in a monochrome image, and that’s the key to all this.

When you do the Grayscale Test I’m suggesting, you’re stripping away the color information (the a/b stuff) from each pixel or point on the image and are left only with what’s somewhere along the 0-100 L pole. That’s Grayscale.

ABOVE: full RGB color at left, grayscale on right

Why Do Grayscale Testing?

Because our eyes sometimes fool us. And color can actually confuse things. The key to having a book cover design grab someone’s attention is Brightness Contrast. And this Brightness Contrast is more easily seen when color images are turned into grayscale. To prove the point, let’s look at a one-word, large-size title in different colors. And let’s make them saturated “pure” colors. Like you see below with the same word in different standard colors on a realistic photo background.

Above left are the main RGB Primaries in their “pure” forms: Red, Green, Blue (RGB!) plus White and Black. At right are the main “Secondaries” or “Complements”: Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, plus I added an Orange and a Purple to round it out.

Squint your eyes or shrink your browser’s View size and study them. If you have normal color vision, you’ll probably notice that a few stand out (on THIS background image) with reasonably good contrast. For me, that includes the white, blue, black, and maybe the yellow. They have the most contrast with the background. But the others don’t stand out as much; they don’t have as much contrast. I’m looking at you, red, green, magenta, cyan, orange, and maybe purple. Something about those is not quite right. They kinda blend into the background. Sounds like it’s time for the Grayscale Test to see what’s really going on.

Let’s Grayscale It

Grayscale is an old designer’s trick. Like flipping a design horizontally to view it. Or squinting your eyes. But it’s probably one of the best tools for reviewing your covers as they evolve through the creative process, whether DIYing it or using a paid designer.

So this is the trick: To check your initial thoughts or feelings about your text color selections, convert the cover image to Grayscale and take another look. This is easy to do in image-editing programs like Photoshop and lots of others. Usually just a couple of clicks. I typically use the Image > Mode > Grayscale conversion in Photoshop. It does the same thing as creating an adjustment layer for Hue/Saturation and bringing the saturation down to “0.”

And here’s what you get below from the exact same images when converted to grayscale:

Aha! Looking above, isn’t it easier to see now which titles have good contrast with the background and which don’t? That is the beauty of the Grayscale Test. It confirms what you may be feeling already, even if you can’t quite pin the problem down. The Grayscale Test lays it out for you in black and white (pun intended! :).

What you’re seeing in the two cloud images above is very simple. The sky background here is a “midtone,” meaning it’s somewhere in the middle of the 0-100 L pole above. There are variations with the clouds, but the whole background is somewhere in the 40 range on average. So—and this is the imporant part—the title words that will contrast the most with this midtone background are the ones as far away from 40 on the pole, i.e. the very lightest and the very darkest ones. THOSE are your best options for THIS background if you’re looking for the most contrast using only color selection as your tool.

There’s lots more from Harald at GoodReads, including more cover examples.

Cover Art

Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.

Larry Correia

How to Evoke Emotions with Book Cover Design

From Writers Helping Writers:

Do you remember being a child in a bookstore? 

With shelves upon shelves of books around, you felt positively overwhelmed and full of anticipation. Hundreds of stories waited for you to take a peek behind their covers. And then, you stumbled upon a book that grabbed your attention. Your eyes were glued to its shiny surface. The colors, the art, the beautiful font — they were impossible to ignore. Without even opening the book, you already wanted to experience the world hidden inside. 

That’s the cover every book deserves; it should evoke emotion, whatever the readers’ age. 

. . . .

How Do People Decide which Book to Buy? 

A few years ago, aspiring writer Gigi Griffis decided to conduct a little survey to figure out how avid readers pick new books. Here are her results: 

  • 85% said that they buy books of the authors they already loved
  • A friend’s recommendation was the second most popular reason (77%)
  • 47% and 48% respectively cited book sales and gorgeous cover art

These numbers confirm what we’ve already suspected: people stick with the familiar and they let their eyes guide them. Fortunately, a professional book cover can help us create that sense of familiarity while also attracting readers.

. . . .

Know Your Target Audience 

Most of the time, readers already know what kind of a book they want. More specifically, they know the emotion they want to experience

  • I want to be scared
  • I want to be thrilled
  • I want to explore strange and captivating worlds
  • I want to feel in love

For a cover to “hit” the target audience in just the right way, it’s primary purpose should communicate: This book has the feeling/vibe you’re looking for! 

The first way we can accomplish this is through color.

Color

People have strong, well-defined associations with color and temperature, smell, and emotions. A color can be warm, cool, wet, or dry. It can signal danger or imply coziness. An effective book cover should use associations like these to achieve the desired emotional result.

. . . .

Imagery 

Chip Kidd—a well-known and delightfully eccentric book cover designer—has said that his job in designing a cover is to ask: “What does the story look like?”

The imagery of your cover should answer this question while also communicating the book’s genre (which helps achieve that sense of familiarity). So don’t hesitate to follow the established canons of the genre. If the idea is common, masterful execution and a unique take can still make the visuals fresh

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

“Buy Now” Book Covers for Independent Authors

From Writers in the Storm:

Practically speaking, a book cover is just a tool to bind and protect the pages of a book. But every writer – and every consumer – knows that a book cover is so much more. Your cover is a visual ambassador for your book: it’s a marketing tool, a billboard for your brand, and sometimes even a small piece of art available to the reading public.

Having a great book cover is an essential for a successful author, so here are ten key book cover design tips that will ensure you’re getting the most out of yours.

10 Design Tips for a “Buy Now” Book Cover

1. Don’t use too many typefaces. Limit yourself to two. Some book covers may require a third typeface; others can shine with just one. Too many fonts cheapen your overall look and make you seem less professional.

2. Don’t overload your cover with ideas. A book cover is a visual elevator pitch—you’ve got literally milliseconds to convince a potential reader. And if you can’t boil your book down to one central concept, you’re in trouble. As a writer, you know about main ideas and supporting details. The front cover gets your main idea. A few supporting details go on the back in your book blurb.

3. Don’t skimp on an illustrator. Seek out a talented professional if your book requires a custom image – and be prepared to pay them for their services. Custom illustration isn’t cheap, but nothing kills a cover like a bad illustration.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

DIY Book Covers Have Come a Long Way — How to Create Professional-Quality Covers with Design Apps

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:

In the early days of self-publishing, authors who didn’t know know coding had to hire formatters to make their books cyber-ready. Since then, formatting has become part of many writing programs. Word processors like MSWord, Scrivener and Pages will output ebook files and apps like Vellum (Mac only) and Jutoh (Pc and Mac) make it easy to create well-formatted, upload-ready files themselves.

The days of the pricey formatter and frustrating waits for edits and revisions or even minor corrections (typos!) are mostly gone.

Ian Andrew, a former Microsoft trainer turned indie author, offers a step-by-step guide to formatting an ebook in MSWord.

As similar transformation has been taking place with book design. Easy-to-use, drag-and-drop apps have made it possible for authors—even those who don’t know PhotoShop or think they don’t have design skills—to create attractive, pro-level, genre-appropriate book covers.

In my decades as an editor and publisher, I’ve spent a lot of time in cover meetings. While editors, marketing departments and sales managers contributed ideas, the art director quickly sketched images (called “thumbnails”) to show us what our ideas would look like when transformed into visual concepts. From that first quick sketch, more ideas would lead to new ideas, second thoughts, and other changes until everyone agreed on a version that would form the basis for the eventual cover.

We made decisions about:

  • Photo or illustration?
  • Poster or type cover?
  • Spot art or full page bleed?
  • genre?
  • color?
  • font?
  • The competition.
  • What’s selling?
  • Why?
  • What isn’t?
  • Why not?

. . . .

Several easy-to-use, drag-and-drop on-line apps (some FREE) will let you quickly transform your ideas into professional-looking, genre-specific covers.

BookBrush, offers customizable cover templates in a variety of genres, quick, easy ways to change fonts and text plus clickable buy buttons and one-click 3-D covers. There’s a user forum to help if you get stuck plus lots of extra templates.

Canva, similar to BookBrush, differs in the details and provides an excellent intro to design principles. Dave Chesson wrote a post about how to design a professional-looking book cover in Canva. He goes into detail about which fonts go with what fictional genres and how to add pro effects to your cover.

. . . .

A veteran (survivor?) of many cover meetings and plenty of follow-up one-on-one sessions standing over a drawing board hashing out pesky details and revisions with art directors, I’m not a designer. But, along the way, I have learned quite a bit about what the pros think about what works—and what doesn’t—when the subject is book covers.

First—and most important—is to put your creativity aside. Now is not the time to Think Different. Instead, you want to do what the other kids do.

Your goal when designing a cover should be to fit in rather than stand out. The reader wants to know at a glance what kind of book you’ve written.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

PG notes that there are lots of links in the OP to cover design tutorials and free or low-cost graphics tools to help you make covers.

However.

PG made covers for several of Mrs. PG’s early self-published novels and thought they looked great.

Then, Mrs. PG decided to switch to a professional cover designer.

(PG’s ego was and is just fine. He’s pretty certain nothing can dent it.)

Mrs. PG’s books with professionally-designed covers sold better than her books with PG’s works of art on the front.

When she switched to writing in her most recent genre, Mrs. PG found a cover designer who was talented in designing for that genre and the era in which those books were set (and who charged a higher price than her previous cover artist). Those books have been selling extremely well, enough so that Mrs. PG believes the extra money she’s paid for her covers has generated an excellent return on her investment. Some of the Amazon reviews and emails from reader friends have mentioned how great the covers look.

PG has bloviated about Mrs. PG’s experience with homemade PG covers and professionally-designed covers.

Your results may vary.

While PG imagines himself to be a great artist from time to time, that feeling passes and he’s willing to admit that others are better than he is with book covers and probably a lot of other things as well.

The purpose of a book cover isn’t to be great art. It’s a very important marketing/advertising tool that’s designed to catch a reader’s positive attention, stop them from scrolling on and click on some related link.

If a book cover accomplishes that task, it’s done its job. Some book covers do their jobs better than others do.

Postscript: The OP mentions several online sources for free images. PG cautions that you need to make certain that the website does in fact offer images that have been properly licensed from the creator AND that such license permits your commercial use of the image in which you are interested, such as including it on a book cover and in your blog to promote sales of your book.

PG has a couple of clients who used images they found online that didn’t indicate their source or copyright status and who thereafter received letters from an attorney’s office asking for money.

So far, PG has been able to keep the lawyers away, but has explained to the client that he can huff and puff, but if the creator of the image (or the agency to which the creator has licensed the image) is not permanently intimidated by PG’s huffing and puffing, something unpleasant might happen in the future.

One additional point on this issue that won’t violate attorney/client privilege: PG suspects the law firm asserting the claim may be using some sort of a web search/web spider program to wander around the internet looking for images for which its client has licensing rights, including clicking down through a website or blog to find an image that the owner of the website posted a year or two earlier.

But PG could be wrong about that.

50 Raymond Carver Covers from Around the World

From The Literary Hub:

Raymond Carver, master of the short story, patron saint of many a creative writing program, regular of many a bar, was born on May 25, 1938. Since then, thousands of aspiring writers all over the world have carried his collections under their arms, displayed them on their bedside tables, and probably even read them. I’ve often been particularly charmed by the Carver covers I have come across, which seem as enigmatic and withdrawn as the writing itself. 

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

What is Typography, And How Can You Get It Right?

From Reedsy:

Typography is the art of arranging text in a legible and visually pleasing fashion. It’s not to be confused with typesetting, which describes the technical process of getting text onto a page.

From the lettering on a road sign to the flourishes on a Coke bottle, we see typography at work everywhere. Books, of course, are no exception. Whether you’re looking at the content or the cover, typography makes our favorite stories both readable and memorable. That’s why every indie author should keep it in mind when thinking about book design.

. . . .

Typography encompasses far more than choosing a font — and there’s a lot more at stake, too. Done right, it’ll draw readers’ eyes and get them to click “buy” on your product page. But if you phone it in, it can make your book stand out for all the wrong reasons, resulting in a sloppy-looking volume that’s a headache to read.

. . . .

1. Clear typography lets people access your story

If you say the words “book typography,” most authors will probably think of the title emblazoned on the front of their masterpieces. But before we start judging books by their covers, let’s take a look at the most important part of any volume: the text itself.

One of the less glamorous functions of typography is making a text easier to read. Clean and consistent type allows the reader to disappear into your words. Bad typography, on the other hand, diverts attention away from your writing, to the way it’s arranged on the page.

Worst case scenario, you might use a typeface that doesn’t pass the basic test of legibility. In that case, your readers will end up squinting at the page, using all their brain-space to decipher your words instead of enjoying them. Odds are, they’ll stop reading long before the book is done.

2. Beautiful typography draws readers’ eyes

Now, let’s talk about covers, an area where bold and beautiful typography can really shine. If you’re an indie author jostling for attention in a crowded marketplace like Amazon, an eye-catching title can make a reader zero in on your book.

. . . .

Choosing the right typeface for your book cover requires you to think beyond mere beauty. In addition to visual appeal, all the text on your cover needs to be:

  • readable
  • appealing at thumbnail sizes
  • genre-appropriate

Even the most gorgeous font won’t cut it if it’s illegible, confusing at thumbnail dimensions, or suggestive of, say, high fantasy when your book is a contemporary romance.

Link to the rest at Reedsy

PG suggests that, in the online book purchasing world (yes, he’s thinking mostly of Amazon), the cover is an advertisement for the book, plain and simple.

Yes, it needs to look like a book, not a microwave, but the purpose of the cover is to catch the eye of a prospective reader.

There’s a balance going on with every cover.

If your book is a romance, something about it needs to imply romance instead of science fiction. But if your cover looks almost identical to every other romance cover, it’s not likely to catch a reader’s eye in the sea of guys with their shirts unbuttoned or women in long dresses standing in front of mansions.

Yes, you can design your own cover. However, PG (who fancies himself as more appreciative of the visual arts and possessing a more nuanced eye than your typical plumbing supply shop owner) tried his hand at designing some of Mrs. PG’s early indie covers.

The covers were artistic triumphs (well, maybe artistic participation prize recipients), but they didn’t sell many books. Mrs. PG decided cheap labor wasn’t doing her very much good, so she hired a professional designer who had other clients writing in Mrs. PG’s genre and sales picked up nicely.

The Terrible Ripple Effect of Canceled Book Tours

From Publishers Weekly:

The coronavirus outbreak is punishing the economy, but as a debut author, I never imagined the release of my forthcoming anthology would illustrate the impact of economic ripple effects.

In 2017, I published a call for submissions asking women to send their stories of how they’ve been affected by Donald Trump and his policies. I received over 200 essays, spent nine months winnowing that number down to 38, then prepared a proposal for the collection, entitled Fury: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Trump Era.

I celebrated when Pact Press, an imprint of Regal House Publishing, offered me and my coeditor a publishing contract. I celebrated again when I received the ARC by mail, and again when the first glowing review came out. On March 24, I was scheduled to begin a 22-city book tour, complete with voter registration tables at events in swing states and interviews with women for a later podcast. Contributors to the anthology were to join me at various stops along the tour. Then Covid-19 hit.

After learning about what it takes to “flatten the curve” of contagion, I decided I couldn’t in good conscience travel from city to city hosting large gatherings. Nor could I then return home and possibly infect my husband, who falls into a high-risk category. So, with equal parts conviction and despondency, I emailed the bookstores on the tour and asked to reschedule.

. . . .

Personally, I never expected to get rich off book sales. The time and toil I put into Fury was always about political activism and documentation. My financial goals were to earn enough royalties to fund the tour, pay contributors an honorarium, and offset my $925-per-month health insurance premium for the remainder of the year. It looks like even these modest goals may have been too ambitious.

. . . .

For Regal House Publishing, a North Carolina–based, woman-operated indie press, event cancellations mean a high influx of book returns from retailers. These come at significant cost to the press’s bottom line.

Jaynie Royal, publisher and editor-in-chief of Regal House, said the company is already feeling the pinch of the coronavirus. “Print runs for Fury and our other spring catalogue titles were determined by retail preorders in the fall of 2019, long before coronavirus was on anyone’s radar,” Royal explains, “and, like all trade publishers, Regal House relies upon bookstore events to drive buzz and ultimately revenue to recoup invested production and printing costs.”

. . . .

Politics and Prose events coordinator Beth Wang initially offered me assurances that the Washington, D.C., store was taking extra precautions—including rigorously sanitizing all event areas, making hand sanitizer available, placing chairs further apart, announcing to attendees that no physical contact with the author should be initiated, and offering authors latex gloves or a presigning (instead of a signing line) to minimize physical contact with the audience.

Even with assurances like these, however, authors canceled their in-store events due to fear of contracting the virus, a sense of moral obligation, and/or because they anticipated a low turnout. Given the fluid circumstances, Politics and Prose now offers authors a digital option.

. . . .

Finally, there is the book industry as a whole, for which book tours are a fading tradition. Since the Great Recession, publishers have tightened their collective belts and have all but eliminated book tours for debut authors, let alone for anthology editors like myself. Nevertheless, publisher tours for celebrity authors and those with established audiences, whose books are guaranteed to sell well, contribute to propping up an industry with wafer-thin margins.

“The absence of book tour events at independent bookstores will have a profound impact on the industry,” says Jamie Fiocco, president of the ABA and owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG is leagues outside of the target audience for this book, but he expects the attitudes of those within the book’s audience to recent events and the President’s response to various critics of the Administration have not transformed the feelings of those who don’t like him.

PG also has to say that the cover of the book looks a bit down-market to him, the photo and, especially, the typography (generic and doesn’t really do much to make the book feel like a quality title).

PG thinks that even his amateur Photoshop talents could have improved the look of the photo – gray overcast skies are the bane of good photographs and mid-day images typically don’t show the subjects – people, buildings, mountains – at their best, but there are easy ways to punch things up a bit. Does the dull gray sky behind the title and sub-title communicate anything useful or make the book stand out on a bookstore shelf?

With respect to basic Photoshop talents, what’s that little piece of something above the roof of the building on the right? And what do flying bird-specks add to the cover’s message? Those are ten-second photoshop fixes.

The Best Book Covers of 2019

From BookRiot:

It’s the season of best of lists, and with the bonus of this being the end of a decade, we’re being treated to double the number of best of lists this year. What shouldn’t be overlooked among those lists are the incredible book covers that graced shelves this year. Works of art in and of themselves, it’s an outdated belief that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The reality is we do and that we should. In honor of that, let’s take a peek at the best book covers of 2019.

 

 

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

Cover design and illustration by Kimberly Glyder.

This is one of those covers of which I would happily buy a print and hang on my wall in the center of the living room. The shades of blue and orange contrast against each other beautifully. That stark contrast gives off the feeling of turmoil amidst the calm of the forest—imagery that aligns with life in the Ash Family commune.

 

 

 

 

. . . .

 

 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Cover Art by Noah Saterstrom.

I saw Patchett speak in Chicago shortly after her new novel’s release. She said: “Book jackets are like your birthday.” A week before, you insist you don’t know what you want to a friend and say you don’t want anything, “and when that person gives you nothing, and you go to bed on your birthday hurt and bitter, it’s only your own fault.” So she fought for her version of the cover. She didn’t want a house—she wanted that to exist in the reader’s imagination—but she thought it would be wonderful to have it feature the portrait of 9-year-old protagonist Maeve, an object that is important within the novel. Her first choice for artist, Noah Saterstrom, delivered the art that would become this gorgeous, richly colored cover.

 

. . . .

 

Medieval Bodies by Jack Hartnell

Cover Design by Peter Dyer.

I found this in a book fair. It was the only copy in show and it caught my eye instantly. It is printed in a silky paperback, with lots of different textures and gold foiling. Plus it is an amazing piece that incorporates both amazing graphic design and medieval art work.

(PG note: Evidently somebody with influence didn’t like the original cover. Here’s a link to the more predictable current cover he found on Amazon.)

 

 

 

Link to the rest, including lots more covers, at BookRiot

PG was struck by the note that Ann Patchett had to fight for her preference for a cover. Ms. Patchett has made a great deal of money for her publisher(s) and PG expects she would be well-connected with the thoughts and feelings of her readers.

PG suspects that an author who hadn’t sold as many books might well have been less successful in a fight for a good cover. It’s not difficult to find a prolific traditionally-published author who has one (or more than one) horror story about being saddled with a terrible cover that doesn’t do anything useful to sell the book.

Absent a quite unusual clause in a traditional publishing contract, the author has no say about what her/his cover looks like.

Indie authors, on the other hand, hire their cover artist, share their ideas and collaborate with the artist to develop a cover the author really likes.

Do all author have great tastes where covers are concerned? Of course not. Do all underpaid editors at traditional publishers (who are almost always dealing with a limited production budget) have greate tastes where covers are concerned? Ditto. If the editors are familiar with the applicable genre (not always the case), they may be more concerned with a cover that fits in rather than stands out on the shelf or Amazon product page.

One additional point PG will make is that it is very, very difficult to persuade a typical publisher to pay for a cover refresh for a book once it has been published. The experience of many authors who are able to wrangle back their rights to a traditionally-published book is that their new cover choices for the indie version can have a very beneficial effect on sales.

What the Heck Is Happening to Book Titles?!

From Publishers Weekly:

Publishers and bookstore owners: do you wonder why sales have dipped and are struggling to catch up to last year’s numbers? Take a moment to review your lists and displays from viewers’ and visitors’ perspective. Dedicated readers, who once considered these resources and destinations a haven, now find some sections equivalent to an assault.

For those of us who enjoy reading publications with book review sections and bestseller lists, the pleasure of discovering a few lyrical works comes to a screeching halt in the presence of titles filled with vulgarities. Similarly, a happily anticipated visit to a local bookstore quickly takes a wrong turn when centrally placed and unavoidable tables prominently showcase stacks of books shouting obscenities with angry venom.

While a well-placed colorful word can pack a punch when used sparingly, resorting to vulgar titles is actually an easy, mindless, and lazy knee-jerk marketing approach. In an attempt to reach and speak to the masses, these word choices continue to dumb down book titles and subjects while discouraging any effort to strengthen thinking, meaning, or purpose—let alone a sense of integrity for authors, marketers, or the industry.

. . . .

Perhaps pejorative and jargon-filled titles are a reflection of competitive markets and desperate efforts to grab attention. However, is the raunchy mangling of language and thought worth the cost?

. . . .

Bad A** and F*** Collections: Bookstore tables overflowing with these popular but unappealing phrases have even started to encroach on the religion section. This serious head-scratcher is a clear sign of mauled language and values, resulting from frantic attempts to increase sales. The asterisks in the titles don’t soften the crass blow or cloaked attempts to veil negative curse words, which have oddly become a compliment. Is this message the one to convey to or shape the next generation of so-called leaders?

Nasty B**** and Slut Titles: Adding to variations of the “baddest” bombs, some proudly self-defined feminists have taken to smearing their work with the big B and S words. These titles are prime-time insults, even when personally professed. In any delivery, they diminish women, who have worked for decades to earn respect, while setting the bar low for young girls struggling to form their identities in a confusing world.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

While nothing prevents indie authors from choosing titles of equivalent offensiveness, PG will note that the author of the OP is talking about books from traditional publishers, the self-appointed curators of our culture.

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

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

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

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.

.

Should Authors Have More Control over Their Covers?

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:

.

.

How Does Color Affect Your Potential Customers?

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

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

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

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

The Art of Book Covers (1820–1914)

For some time, PG has enjoyed viewing images from a website called The Public Domain Review.

The website describes itself as follows:

Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas.

In particular, as our name suggests, the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to promote and celebrate the public domain in all its abundance and variety, and help our readers explore its rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond.

With a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of content which truly celebrates the breadth and diversity of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it.

Link to the rest at About The Public Domain Review

From Public Domain Review, some lovely old book covers:

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Link to more old book covers at Public Domain Review

Ideas for Book Covers

Covers are a recurring topic for indie authors.

Perhaps the most important means of stopping a reader browsing on Amazon and persuading them to look more closely at a book is the cover.

PG has noted that in some genres, many of the covers look the same.

There can be a perfectly good reason for this. Nothing says Zombie! like a decaying hand.


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or someone enjoying a light snack.
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However, it can be easy to get into a visual rut.

In PG’s experience, many people don’t know that Adobe has a website to help people who use its software show their accomplishments to the world.

PG searched Bēhance for book covers and discovered far more original cover designs than he ever sees on Amazon.

Following is a small sample. Click on the image for a larger version.

You can all of the images are subject to the artist’s copyright.

PG has inserted a link to the artist’s page on Bēhance above each image.

Artist

. . . .

 Artist

Artist

Artist

Artist

Artist

 

Link to the rest at Bēhance

US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers for 2018

From The Literary Hub:

Over any given year, those of us in the literary media see hundreds of books pass by. Some of their covers are great, some mediocre, some simply odd, but the ones we remember from the pack tend to be either the most unusual or the most repeated. So one of my favorite exercises after a year of covering and reading about books is to shake up my memory and see how the covers I’m familiar with looked in other countries. Since big books are often published concurrently (or at least closely together) in the US and the UK, I thought I would compare some of my favorites here, and even dare to choose which one I like better.

On that note, please bear in mind that I am an American writer and reader, and therefore US book covers are made for people like me—but also bear in mind that I may have gotten bored with the American covers, and the UK ones have that sparkly new quality that makes me like them better.

. . . .

Winner: These covers are so different in tone that it’s really hard to choose. I love the audacity of the UK cover, especially with the backward text, which is something I could easily see an over-cautious publicity department nixing. But as far as which one has the potential to make me cross the room to pick it up? I suppose that would have to be the US cover—though I’m a devoted Mendelsund fan, so take it with a grain of salt.

. . . .


Winner: Ditto above. The office was split—lots found the UK cover more interesting, complex and compelling, but I always go in for simplicity, and the purity of that juicy yellow on the US cover… Can’t beat it.

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Winner: This is an interesting one: I like all the elements of the US cover better—the hand painted lettering, the impressionistic face—but I think the overall impression of the UK cover is more striking. It looks more like a Big Serious Novel, but more importantly, it invites the viewer to pick apart all of its patchwork slices to find meaning.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

 

Welcome to the Bold and Blocky Instagram Era of Book Covers


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From Vulture:

If you’re looking for the most anticipated books of 2019, chances are your search will start with Google and end at Amazon. Chances are even better that one book cover will consistently jump off the screen: Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf, its graphic white title entwining with a writhing, jewel-toned print of a shape-shifting beast. This first book in the Booker Prize–winning author’s Dark Star trilogy, a queer, Afrofuturist fantasy series, has already been called the “African Game of Thrones.” (Another tagline: the literary Black Panther.) It’s clearly being positioned by publishers and booksellers as a cultural icon, with a blazing cover to match.

Scroll on through the best-of lists and other titles will pop just as loudly: The title of Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bangkok Wakes to Rain gleams in gold letters over a drippy green abstraction of leaves. Helen Oyeyemi’s Ginger Bread shouts in bold yellow against a lightly ombré coral backdrop, its plane broken by a black crow grasping a gleaming tangerine. And Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things features a twisted, hand-drawn flamingo on a field of avocado green, with the title scrawled over it in what appears to be a fat white sharpie.

None of these titles is available yet, but anywhere you find them online will likely direct you to preorder on Amazon. [Ed.: Guilty.] In fact, their covers are designed to ensure that you will. At a time when half of all book purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon — and many of those on mobile — the first job of a book cover, after gesturing at the content inside, is to look great in miniature. That means that where fine details once thrived, splashyprints have taken over, grounding text that’s sturdy enough to be deciphered on screens ranging from medium to miniscule.

If books have design eras, we’re in an age of statement wallpaper and fatty text. We have the internet to thank — and not just the interface but the economy that’s evolved around it. From the leather-bound volumes of old to lurid mass-market paperbacks, book covers were never designed in a vacuum. Their presentation had everything to do with the way books were made, where and how and to whom they were sold. And when you look at book covers right now, what you’ll see blaring back at you, bold and dazzling, is a highly competitive marketing landscape dominated by online retail, social media, and their curiously symbiotic rival, the resurgent independent bookstore.

Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to DaveMich for the tip.