“As a designer, it is my job to help a reader accurately judge the book by it’s cover.” ~Kelly Bahr
Much like a painter who blends colors, draws outlines, and fills in the edges to create a piece of art, a writer is also an artist who uses the written word to illustrate a story. In this way, writing becomes another form of art.
The book, therefore, is where written art and visual art cross paths.
The cover page, being the visual portrayal of the written story inside, is an incredibly important aspect to consider in book-making process. From a marketing perspective, the cover page of a book has a significant influence on whether or not it will be chosen by the reader. Ideally, it will attract the passing eye while remaining true to the story.
Here at Dock Street Press, we take a different approach to the proverb, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” We take pride in producing quality cover pages that are both eye-catching and subtly informative about the story inside. In the following interview, our cover page designer, Kelly Bahr, briefly outlines her design process when creating a cover page.
1. As someone who overlooks this process of designing the first impression for the book, what is the first aspect you take into consideration?
“Depending on the type of book (novel, essays, short story collection, novella etc.) I try to highlight whatever element of the book is the most representative of the story or collection as a whole. For example the location, the main character, the over-arching theme, a symbolic object, or sometimes even just one small intriguing element. Reflecting the mood of the book in the colors, typography, imagery etc. is also incredibly important to the design process. The best way I can think to describe it is that if it’s a novel, it should look like a novel. No one wants to buy dairy products with a logo that looks like it belongs on power tools, or health insurance from a company whose logo would better suit an online lingerie shop.”
2. Is this a collaborative process?
“Yes, it’s very collaborative. Dane (a/n: one of our editors) usually has a pretty clear vision of what would represent the story dynamically and usually has some typeface ideas as well. From there I work up a couple design options and we go back and forth making revisions until it feels right.”
3. Why is the design of the cover page important?
“The cover of the book is the first impression, the reason a reader will either pick it up or pick up the book next to it. As a designer, it is my job to help a reader accurately judge the book by it’s cover. It has to be eye catching but true to the mood of the book. It has to be informative enough to give a glimpse into the book without giving anything away. Just enough to spark someone’s interest to find out more.”