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The case for recognising book cover designers. And some favourite book jackets of 2015.

19th December 2015

At TripFiction we get to see a huge number of book covers throughout the year and I have always been fascinated by what actually makes a good cover, and a potential hit for the author. Covers are just as important – maybe more so – than translators; recently there has been a real move to have book translators recognised, as their work can make or break a book (and here is one of our perceived “misses” when it comes to translation). There is a lot of buzz around this very subject on Social Media, and Publishing Perspectives make a good case for the translator. It’s now time to see more recognition for book cover design teams!

Book jackets are hugely important because they are the first aspect any potential reader sees. Think of your own experiences when you are in a bookshop and consider how you navigate your way through the vast stacks of books – which ones are going to grab your attention, and which will be subliminally sidelined, and which actively discarded (why that is will be the subject for another blogpost shortly, I promise!). An excellent article that spurred me into collating my thoughts here is How to Know Your Book’s Cover needs a Redesign by BookBub – as they say in the blogpost: Potential readers need to be intrigued by a book’s cover. SO true.

Thus I am sharing some of my thoughts on what makes a good, eye catching and sales worthy cover… and acknowledge the work of the design teams who create some wonderful and pleasing works of art.

51sz-1T+drL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_A hit of 2013, which ramped up the creative flair and design of the typical book cover was Tigers in Red Weather by Lisa Klaussman, set in Martha’s Vineyard. In fact, we talked to the publishers about how the cover came into being – as Lee Dibble, the Marketing and Communications Director responsible for the cover said when he had proofs on his desk: I knew it was special when every woman who walked past my desk would pick up a copy and stroke it. It has set the benchmark for great book cover design. 2013 was the year for covers that used bright colours to indicate there was heat, both in the storyline and in the weather. Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown, set on the Isle of Wight, was another. Thus colour, and its astute use, became mainstream in fundamental design. How has that legacy carried forward into 2015?

The book jacket here that kept drawing positive comments throughout the year was A House Called Askival by MerrynIMG_2597 Glover, set in India. The title is absolutely clear on a multi-coloured background, a hint of the exotic in both colour, pictures and clarity. A real hit, and very original – and it just says exotic on the cover.

I share some more of my favourite book jackets that are real works of art in themselves – beautifully executed and well balanced in design and font (how many of us give credence to the power of a good font, I wonder?). The covers are like little works of art, sometimes almost good enough to hang on a wall. And isn’t that what book covers need to be? They need to draw in the prospective reader with a hint of what is to come and also be aesthetically pleasing, whilst riding the fine line between being unique but also indicative of genre. This combination of factors is something that can often elude self published authors, in many instances due to the high cost of having someone design a cover, of course. But this really doesn’t have to be the case, with a little research, and understanding that cover is the no. 1 marketing tool, well, it’s a no brainer, surely to spend a little more time and effort on getting the right feel for a book cover?  This is a subject I will indeed return to shortly as many of the self published works that pass across our table are doing themselves enormous disservice…. and it would be so easy to rectify.

And now, finally, to some of the top book covers of 2015.  There are of course many more we could feature, but these are the ones that stuck with me.

Brown is the new black this year, with a dash of the exotic…




The Sermon on the Fall of Rome by Jérôme Ferrari, set in Corsica, Paris and Algiers.

I love this jacket because it is a good palette of Mediterranean colours, the title (never a great starting point) is long but is well accommodated and it is clear who the author is (surprisingly – or perhaps not – the title and author often get obscured in the exuberance of design, which defeats the object).

The Ladies of Managua by Eleni N Gage, set in Nicaragua

This is just full of colour and life. And so simple!

Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss, set in Japan and Falmouth

There’s is a lot going on in this cover yet it isn’t cluttered. It has a harmony that is very pleasing.

Early One Morning by Virginia Bailey, set in Rome

This novel is set in the present and during WW2, and the tone of the cover, somehow acknowledges both eras. I have been to this very street in Rome, it looks just like that today; the sepia tones also give a sense of history and so it manages to ride two eras in just one graphic. The vanishing point draws the eye in and underlines what an excellent device perspective is for attracting readership to a book cover.

Arab Jazz by Karim Miské, set in Paris

This is a book where the designer was easy to track down (unlike other books, where there might be a tiny mention) and quite rightly too. He is Miles Hyman and his work is instantly recognisable. Again, a judicious use of colour which is muted yet very effective. Myles talks to us about his cover design work here

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Do share with us in the Comments below your top covers of recent times, we would love to see what has grabbed your attention!

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  1. User: Jess dimovski

    Posted on: 22/12/2015 at 12:58 am

    Love colors of Insurgent cover


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