The Cover Story

A book has just three seconds to catch a buyer’s attention. To capitalise on that tiny timeframe, the visual appeal is maximised.

Published: 12th May 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2019 02:43 PM   |  A+A-

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Express News Service

Filipina author, editor, publicist and book designer Eeva Lancaster says in Being Indie: A No Holds Barred, Self Publishing Guide for Indie Authors, “Good cover design is not only about beauty... it’s a visual sales pitch. It’s your first contact with a potential reader. Your cover only has around three seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention. You want to stand out and make them pause and consider, and read the synopsis.” It might take ‘three seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention’, but it takes roughly 18 months to bring a book to market. Needless to say, getting the attention of the potential buyer is a must, if only to justify the effort put in. 

“To believe that readers don’t get impacted by a cover would be a misconception. No matter how great the content of a book, it is still judged by its cover. A cover attracts the reader and creates the initial pull that is needed to get someone to pick up your book. The design and layout decide for how long it will captivate the attention of the reader.

There is a lot of thought that goes into creating the cover and it is a great marketing tool,” says Aarti David, Director, Publishing, SAGE India. She goes on to add that the cover communicates to the reader what the book is all about. “Every single element, right from the title of the book, to the name of the author, to the placement on the cover, to the typeface used and the imagery to support, is important,” she says.

Cover design is always an important aspect in every publishing house. It is a combined effort of editorial/marketing and the author. The final decision is reached by keeping all interests in mind—the author, reader and marketing requirements. There are often disagreements, say publishers, but ultimately, the common goal is to make the cover attractive, unique, and purposeful. It has to communicate and reflect the essence of the book through its visual imagery and presentation. The target audience must understand and relate to the cover for it to be effective. 

Readers/buyers usually judge a book by its cover, feels Trisha De Niyogi, Chief Operating Officer, Niyogi Books. “A cover acts as a synopsis, though the discerning reader always knows that the first impression may not pay in the long run. The cover helps the reader gauge the contents of the bookk. An interesting cover is also part of the marketing campaign as it helps in engaging the attention of the buyer/reader through, what is known as, visual appealing. However, we must note that a very fancy cover may help in selling an initial number of books, but the bluff will be called soon. Hence, it would be very wrong to assume that only fancy covers can market any type of content. If the content is good, even the simplest of covers will be enough to sell the book,” she stresses.

In the last few years, consumers have started looking for bolder designs. Covers with bold colours, prominently displaying the author’s name and large title fonts were once a preserve of big time-tested authors. But now they are fast becoming the stepping stone of debut writers as well. Millennial pink that reached its zenith in 2017, isn’t going anywhere quite yet, but yellow is decidedly the new pink. Though 2018 saw a sea of orange, grabbing eyeballs, or rather, bookshelves. Another trend that is making waves is flora on the covers. Instagrammable and Pinterest-friendly, these covers promise to make your bookshelves look like wild gardens. Also, crossed-out words are big. 

Priya Kapoor, Director, Roli Books, stresses, “First impressions are important and that is why book covers are crucial to the marketing of a book. Each book requires a unique design that conveys the story, or theme. The concept ‘one-size-fits-all’ doesn’t work for book covers.” However, Priya believes that book covers should give readers a sense of what they are in for. Finally, as Aarti says, “The designer needs to ensure that the book should call out from the shelves of a book store and also be something that is attractive as a thumbnail image when viewed online, so that a reader/buyer is immediately attracted.” 

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