A Happy Book Cover Design

A lot of folks new to publishing think that books need illustrations. But no matter how good the illustration (or photo) a book cover relies on the skill of its graphic designer. The job of the designer is fourfold:

1. To call attention to the book.

2. To give an impression of what the book is about.

3. To set the mood.

4. To get potential readers to pick up the book, and hopefully buy it.

I saw this book at the local library, and just had to pick it up. One thing that you, as an online viewer, cannot see is that the dustcover covers only half the book: in the photo it is the black bottom with the pink drips. The book itself is purely yellow, and doesn’t have nearly the impact of the book AND the dustcover.

Note the impact of the book relies on several very clever tricks:

  • The half-cover.
  • The contrast of the yellow top and black bottom.
  • The contrast of the “rational” font at the top of the word “Happy” with the “irrational” “uncontrolled” pink drips, suggesting a mental unraveling, and unhappiness.
  • The title of the book is only partially showing, obscured by the somber, forbidding, black half dust jacket.
  • The bright yellow of the book’s cover is a play on words with the author’s last name, “Lemon.”

All of the above suggest that the author’s memoirs are anything but happy. It takes real skill to come up with such an elegant solution to communicating the book’s content and mood through the book cover.

A well-known adage among designers in all fields of design is “less is more.” Graphic designer Carla Jayne Jones’ sleight of hand uses a minimum of simple elements to achieve a maximum impact.

~ Aliyah Marr


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