What Makes For a Bad Cover Design? 是啥弄壞了書本封面設計?

I like to hang out alone at the Strand Bookstore in lower Manhattan. Although Strand is well known as one of the busiest bookstores to entice the crowd of book bargainer hunters, I find that loitering around the congested passageways between its imposing shelves is peaceful and quiet. I appreciate the chance of being away from computers and conversation, and taking pleasure in a single activity – browsing the shelves for good book cover designs. As Strand call themselves the home of 18 miles of books, there are sure to be some hidden treasures.

A good cover design not only requires a smart title that delivers a purposeful message, but also an appealing visual that catches the reader’s attention. Once the reader lays eyes on the cover, there must be something to make him want to pick up the book, such as a clean distinctive typeface, a stunning image, an interesting texture, or contrasting colors on the cover. A good cover hooks the reader, but a bad cover makes him think twice.

But what makes for a bad cover design? In my humble opinion, the following are some crucial ingredients:
1. Too literal: I dislike an excessively descriptive graphic element alluding to its plot or character. For instance, using an image of a white tower for a book called “The White Tower”.
2. Too cliché: My heart sinks when I see a graphic element such as women with painted faces in traditional East Asian dress, Asian women with long straight black hair, dragon, lotus, chopsticks, and Buddha heads, on many Asian-themed book covers.
3. Trying too hard: I don’t like a book cover laden with too many images, types and colors to explain the details of the book. I'm drawn to the design principle of “less is more”.
4. Not approachable: Adding frills like a flap, elastic band, or button might convey a more “designed” or “artsy” look, but it can be a turn-off if the reader has to make too much of an effort to open the book and flip through it.

In the reality of the publishing world, an author has little say about the cover of his creation. Therefore, I was thankful for the constructive exchange with my own publisher and their in-house designer, and to be able to defend my book “KyotEau: Bottled Memories” against the above temptations. After all, we do judge a book by its cover.

No comments:

Post a Comment