Book Talk May 2013

tips for making great books 

Photographs for a Cover Design that Pops!


This month, we're pleased to share advice on selecting photographs for cover design from our founder, Peter E. Randall, photographer, editor and publisher:

Q: Why is a book's dust jacket or cover so important?

PETER: "The main purpose of a dust jacket or cover is to promote book sales for a title sitting on a bookshelf in a store. An attractive cover catches the eye of a potential buyer more than the title of the book or the author's name, unless of course one is looking for a specific book. It's the key to a great first impression for a reader."

Q: How do you choose that right cover photograph?

PETER: "The choice of which image to use for a cover photograph is sometimes simple when there is an obvious choice, but often the decision requires more thought. For a nonfiction book, the image should have something to do with the subject of the book. For a town history, the image might be a recognizable street scene or a building-preferably something the intended audience will recognize. It could be an old photograph or a contemporary image. A science book about the arctic might have a photograph of an iceberg or a polar bear. A biography of an important figure will likely feature a photograph of that person at a recognizable event. Whichever photograph is selected, it should attract the buyer's eye in a store, or increasingly in the online marketplace. Usually this means a rather simple image, not complicated with a great many elements, but one with an obvious center of interest."


Q: What are the best options for using a photograph on a book's cover?

PETER: "Some photographs lend themselves to a full-page bleed style cover with the title and author's name over-printed. This works best if the portion of the photograph that is over-printed is relatively plain with a single color, such as sky, water, or the side of a barn."  

A Space for Faith         One with the Sea

 "If the image is such that it can't be cropped to fill the whole cover in a full bleed fashion, then the photograph could be used for a portion of the cover and the type be placed elsewhere, perhaps with a color background that compliments the photograph."  

           Utah's Wasatch Range         NH Living Landscape

Q. How do you know you have chosen the best image for your cover?

PETER: "Often I've heard someone say, 'That book is beautiful,' when all they have done is look at the cover. At that point, the dust jacket has done its job!"

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Thanks for reading, sharing, or responding to Your comments and questions are always welcome!

Best wishes,

Deidre Randall, CEO

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