Tips for Designing a Truly Memorable Print Book

If a print book is a pathway to an adventure, then the cover of the book is the doorway to that experience. I think the photo above captures this sense of possibility.

They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I think they are wrong. Moreover, I think that if you are a graphic designer, this awareness (of your power and responsibility) can inspire you to inspire your reader.

Here’s an example (although it pertains to record jacket design). Back in the ‘70s, when I was a teenager, I bought an Olivia Newton-John album not just because I recognized one song but because I thought the cover photo was beautiful. Later on I bought a Gregg Allman album in part because the surrealistic cover intrigued me.

Here’s another example. When my fiancee and I go to the thrift store, she gravitates immediately to books that are square, that have a dull cover coating rather than a gloss coating, and that have any elements that appear to be hand drawn. (She likes the “journal” look.) As a sculptor, she has also made a number of artistic clocks (and other sculptures) out of books.

In both cases (the record album in the mid-70s and the books in the thrift store), the “sale,” the “I want that” moment, came before either I or my fiancee had really considered the content: the music on the record or the words in the print book.

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