Book Cover Design Checklist

A common service that graphic artists are called on to complete is a book cover or book jacket design. For a graphic artist just starting out, this might not be a project that you’re used to doing.

When I first started designing, one of my first big clients was a publishing company. Pretending to know what I was doing, I fumbled through my first book cover design and humbly made the list of adjustments that needed to be done due to my amateur mistakes. If I knew several important rules about book cover printing, it would have saved a lot of time and headache.

Here is a checklist of the basic things to remember when designing a book cover:

Use bleeds
As designers, we deal with bleeds all of the time. The bleeds on a book are normally no different: One-eighth or .125 inches around all sides of the book is standard.

Know your spine width
A book’s spine width is determined by its page count. The equation for determining spine width is dividing the number of pages in your book by the text paper’s pages per inch or PPI. The PPI is a number that you will need to find out from the printer of the book because it is based on the type of paper the printer will use. For example, for a 300-page book with a PPI of 400, the equation would be 300/400 = .75. Your spine width would be .75 or three-fourths of an inch.

Keep the barcode clear
The barcode might be one of the most important parts of a book. It holds so much necessary information, such as the book’s International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and price of the book, so making sure it can easily be scanned is critical. The background of any book’s barcode should be completely white. The actual barcode should be 100 percent black and should not be altered in any way.

Include standard content
On the front of your cover, you want to make sure that there are two key pieces of information: the book’s title and the book’s author. Remember, most authors and publishing companies are concerned with sales, so the easier it is for a potential buyer to recognize the book title and author, the better.

On the spine, the same information applies as the front cover. The title of the book should be clear and at the top of the spine. The author of the book should follow below the title, and normally the publisher’s name or logo will go at the bottom of the spine.

The back cover will normally include the book’s title again, a brief synopsis of the book and the barcode. You could also include the address or contact information of the publisher and any favorable reviews of the book.

A book cover has many of the same design rules as other printed material, so there is no need to shy away from these projects. It’s always a good idea to speak to the book printer beforehand and get their specifications as some printer’s regulations may vary. You might also want to suggest a custom bookmark design to help promote the book, boost sales and put even more money in your pocket!

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