Space, the Final Frontier of Book Cover Design

Sorry, couldn’t help myself with the Star Trek reference in the title of this post. But what Star Trek and book covers have in common is that they both have space. And like the Enterprise orbiting the earth at a height of 430 kms if you don’t zoom in enough on the text of your cover it will get lost in the background.

The difference in use of space, I think, can best be seen in wedding photos.


Style: "Vivid"

Amateurs want to get everything in the frame (as shown on the left) this leaves a lot of extra and unused space.  Professionals aren’t afraid of close ups and they get in tight on the most important objects (shown on the right).

Book cover designs suffer from the same problems.  Poorly designed covers have small badly placed text (not to mention issues with fonts and alignment – you can read about that here.).


badgoodHere are two examples of book covers using the same cover art.  Which one draws your eye to it the most?  Both use exactly the same two fonts and the same drop shadow effects on the text.  The difference is that the one on the right is not afraid of the space available for the text.

It is certainly a beautiful photograph and while you probably don’t want to destroy it by plastering text all over the place, you can still make the title of the book the “hero” of the design.

My rule for text on book covers is, bigger is better and you can see this principle at work in some of my favourites, below.


Next time you find yourself creating a cover for your own book, when you’re comfortable that you’ve covered the C.R.A.P. principals, put in your text and then …. just give it a try … make the font BIGGER – you might be amazed.