Designing Covers with Markets in Mind

May 2006
by --

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The more I share experiences
with others, the more I see and appreciate the different ways we all go about
our business of publishing and marketing books. Recently, at a regional trade
show in Seattle, I was on a panel with a bookseller and a designer. The topic
was creation of covers and dust jackets.


The purpose of the discussion, the
organizer told us, was “to communicate that book jacket design can make or
break a book, so energy, thought, and investment should be a priority in the
design of a book cover, since it is a significant factor in potential sales.”


The designer and bookseller spent
much time reviewing artistic elements of literary fiction covers like patrons
at an art gallery, but with what seemed to me a puzzling lack of curiosity as
to whether the titles had been commercial successes and, if so, with little
attention to how all elements of the cover and jacket—including the
type—may have contributed. Compared with those covers for literary
fiction, many of our covers for regional trade nonfiction from Alaska and the
Pacific Northwest, are, shall we say . . . brash.


Our differing perspectives can be
understood partly in terms of the ways literary fiction and regional nonfiction
are categorized and displayed at the retail level.


In bookstores, trade fiction from
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