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Three Types of Book Cover Design – Part 1

One of the nicest parts of browsing through the shelves of a bookstore is taking in all the wonderful artwork on the book covers. Right now, there are some gorgeous book cover designs being produced, a diverse range to match the real diversity of the books being produced. If you are a writer, if you have produced a book you want to publish, you’ll be looking for a dust jacket and whether it is you paying for it or your publisher, it is worth learning what goes into the design of a book cover. There are three basic book cover design types to choose from, each suitable for certain book types and each with their own price range.

Stock Image Manipulation

You often hear the term “stock photo” bandied around and, as far as the non-designers among us are concerned, these are nothing more than laziness in a creative sense. This isn’t a fair assumption because it simply isn’t true.

The real truth is that almost all book designs you see these days, especially the ones you love, will all have some elements in them that come from a stock image source. There are plenty of them – iStock, Shutterstock, and Getty, to name a few – and they license millions of images that anybody, including book cover designers, can work with. And that isn’t just photos either; their libraries also include illustrations.

Let’s say, for example, that your book is set in Paris; check out any of the stock image libraries and you will find images of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and any other famous Parisian landmark you can think of. The license that goes with the image lets the designer alter any element of the image they want – they could add a colored tint, turn it into a sepia photo, airbrush parts of it out, and so on. Whatever they do to that image, it becomes an original design.

So where is the real benefit in using stock images? First off, it’s cost. Stock images are quite cheap, they are high-quality images, mostly professional and you can have them within seconds. Why send a person to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower when there are thousands of different ones in the stock libraries?

Time is another benefit. Designers can work quickly with stock images whereas producing an illustration from scratch is time-consuming and stock images are a good deal cheaper. More often than not, cover designs are made up of more than one stock image, usually several composited together. That means the designer becomes more of a highly talented artist in collage, balancing the typography with all the different elements.  

Stock images are commonly used in almost every genre going but the most popular cover designs include non-fiction, romance, and thrillers. And the cost of creating a cover that uses this technique ranges from $250 up to about $800 but this range will only be from freelance designers who have experience of working with the traditional publishers.

Join me in part 2 for the final two book cover types.        

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds