We caught up with graphic designer Devin Watson to ask his advice on book cover design. Devin Watson is a graphic designer currently working in the Washington DC metro area. He primarily works in the field of print design, but we hear he has a love for all things design. For inspiration, check out Devin’s book, The Book Book, in the Blurb Bookstore or visit his website.
Blurb: Should you judge a book by its cover?
Watson: We are a visual culture. A cover grounds the book and gives it genre and category. The cover acts to provide intrigue to the audience and draw them inside. If words could sell themselves than all the books on the shelves would look like Microsoft Word Documents. But in the end a cover is a collaboration between designer and author. Sometimes the designer will accurately convey the content of the book, and sometimes it will be our own interpretation. So in short, no, a book should never be judged by its cover, but, neither should a cover be judged by the book.
Blurb: So what makes a good book cover?
Watson: My favorite book covers often convey unconventional concepts to very literal titles. They are covers that don’t follow standard genre trends. It’s a different game to design for academic books rather than novels. Design a really great cover for a title like The Etatist Turkish Republic and its Political and Socio-Economic Performance, and you are really going to get my highest praise.
Blurb: What are your tips for someone creating their own book cover?
Watson: Don’t brow beat your audience. The consumer is more intelligent than you think. Especially a literary audience. You can use an image of a taco. Or just the word taco. But never use an image of a taco with the word taco below it. The best book covers are the subtlest and most intriguing.
Blurb: Who should we be looking at for great cover design inspiration?
Watson: Currently there are more great book designers than ever. The competition is fierce; every day I will open a design blog only to see something that makes me want to weep openly. The work of Greg Kullick, Matt Dorfman, Kymberly Glyder, Jim Terney, and Jennifer Wang are a few great designers that don’t get mentioned that often. The library is always a source of inspiration, as book stores mainly only carry new books.