The New Old in Cover Design

by Cathi Stevenson Amy Weiss-Meyer posted an interesting blog over at New Republic. In it she discusses the return to the chunky fonts of 1970′s-style book covers and quotes Chip Kidd, who isn’t really thrilled over the new trend. (If you’re new to the biz or have been in a coma for the last few decades, Chip Kidd is the reigning guru of book cover design, creative genius at Alfred A. Knopf, star of information-rich YouTube videos and Ted speaker. If you haven’t seen it, you should check out his Ted talk, it’s pretty funny). I’m not a fan of some of the fonts or layouts, but I have always loved a text-only cover, which many of these are. Regardless of anyone’s likes or dislikes, the trend seems to be gathering momentum. Weiss-Meyer cites several examples, including Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, but chunky fonts are popping up … . . . Read more

Color Control for Print and Online

by Cathi Stevenson Color is tricky at the best of times. If you want exact color management for your book cover design (such as a particular shade of blue for a university logo), you really should use something called spot color. Spot colors are specially mixed ink colors. Like the paint you purchase for your walls, spot colors, or Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors, are mixed according to pre-determined recipes. Each color in the PMS spectrum has an assigned number. When a client picks a number, the ink is mixed according to that recipe. It’s usually more expensive than process color (4-color) digital printing, which I will explain in a moment. If you are using an offset press though, the fewer colors you have, the lower the cost, so going with spot colors could be beneficial. The most common ink choice would be black and one or two other colors … . . . Read more

Visual Vibration: Lose It

Crazy Woman Drinking Wine

by Cathi Stevenson It has to be discussed…again. Visual vibration. So many independent publishers don’t seem to think it’s an issue and I’d bet my last chocolate-covered almond it’s resulting in lost sales. What is it? Visual vibration is caused when two bright colors are mixed together on a book cover or website or ad and they create an “afterimage” effect. It’s almost as if a dancing halo has been placed around the word or shape, making it nearly impossible to look at the image for any amount of time. It’s painful. It’s the last thing you want happening on your website or your book cover. You can avoid visual vibration by introducing a less vibrant, neutral color to the mix.

Design Elements Should Be Carried Throughout the Book

by Cathi Stevenson Since Book Cover Express is mainly for book cover design, I work with many clients who come to me for just that one element of the book. There is no problem with this, but I like to at least make contact with the interior designer, or if that part of the job is already done, see the finished product. This is so I can create a cohesive look that carries from front cover, through every page and onto the back cover. The fonts you’ve used; any graphic elements, such as dingbats or lines; drop caps or other features used on the books interior can be mirrored on the cover, and vice versa. This is not always possible of course, sometimes covers change for various reasons, but the interior of the book stays the same. One good example is once a movie has been made about the book, … . . . Read more

Are Your Feet Cold?

I ask, because surely that place below us has really frozen over! Well-known book cover designer Henry Sene Yee, creative director at Picador, winner of AIGA’s 50 Books / 50 Covers; recipient of The Art Directors Club GOLD Cube and proud recipient of awards from The Type Directors Club, The New York Book Show, The Society of Illustrators, Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual, Communication Arts…and so on, created a book cover using Comic Sans! The book is called The Subject Steve, by Sam Lipsyte and is featured on Yee’s blog, right above a link to Timothy McSweeny’s site, which features a  hilarious monologue from Comic Sans, by Mike Lacher. Lipsyte’s book is available on Amazon, or better yet, get if from your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

Book Design – Create a Professional “Look”

by Cathi Stevenson Design elements should be carried throughout the book Since my site is mainly one for book cover design, I work with many clients who come to me for just that one element of the book. There is no problem with this, but I like to at least make contact with the interior designer, or if that part of the job is already done, see the finished product. This is so I can create a cohesive look that carries from front cover, through every page and onto the back cover. The fonts you’ve used; any graphic elements, such as dingbats or lines; drop caps or other features used on the books interior can be mirrored on the cover, and vice versa. This is not always possible of course, sometimes covers change for various reasons, but the interior of the book stays the same. One good example is once … . . . Read more

Most Popular Fonts Used on Book Covers

by Cathi Stevenson A few years ago Stephen Coles wrote a great article on book cover fonts for FontFeed.com. I think it’s still relevant today, and many of my favourites made the list. I recommend you read the whole article, which includes images. Cole’s top 10 list of book cover fonts: Minion ITC New Bakserville FF Scala & FF Scala Sans Adobe Garamond (one of my all-time favorite fonts) Trade Gothic Electra Fornier Dante Din

There’s Just Something About the Word “Just”

by Cathi Stevenson Book Cover Express averages about 70 inquiries a week. Quite often the people who contact me are not sure what they want. They know they want a book cover, but beyond that they don’t know if they want a graphic designer, an illustrator, a photographer or a painter. I’m sure there are artists out there who can do it all, but I focus mostly on graphic design. By definition this means I might take a photo for a book cover, or I might create a simple piece of vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator. Most often it means creating an abstract background and making the text the focal point, or it means manipulating images so they work on the cover. On more than one occasion I’ve had someone say, “oh, you JUST work with stock images.” Well, no…no I don’t, but in defense of designers everywhere there’s very … . . . Read more

What Do Their Books Have That Mine Do Not?

by Cathi Stevenson Book sales are no easy thing to achieve in today’s market. Even the most riveting stories, polished by the best editors and proofreaders can fade into oblivion soon after they’re released. Reviews help, but it’s difficult to get enough reviews to sway an ambiguous reader into making a purchase, so you might have to promote your book with wit and charm or even controversy. The most efficient way to do this is by connecting directly with your audience online. For this reason, it’s important to include a professional website or blog in your marketing plan. It can involve a heavy investment in time to create a website, or you can hire someone to do the heavy lifting, but financially, it’s one of the least expensive forms of promotion available. Blog-style sites are by far the easiest to set up and maintain. Blogs require little or no knowledge … . . . Read more

Top 5 Questions I Am Asked About Book Design

by Cathi Stevenson 1. Why shouldn’t I lay my book out in Word? Word is a word processing program, not designed to format files for press. There are lots of issues that can and do occur when you use Word to lay out a print project: Sometimes the black text is only at about 90% when printed, so you’re essentially getting a dark gray. Word does not work in CMYK colors, which are necessary for printed books. It works in RGB colors, which are meant for screen viewing. I’ve written an article on color that you can read, if you’d like more information. Word will display fonts that you don’t actually have. If you choose the italic or bold options in Word, the program will “fake” those effects, even if you don’t have the bold or italic version of the font. This means, your PDF will not have the bold … . . . Read more