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  • Amaris Manning

Book Cover Art Contrast and Delivery: Why It Matters




People usually say to never judge a book by its cover, but in truth, the cover provides insight into the tone of the story. From the cover art to the font, a book's cover is a sneak peek of what the person can expect from the book. Book cover designers will often work with the authors to figure out an appropriate appearance for their book without giving too much information on the story, but the book's appearance has to match their target audience regarding age and genre. Above, two different covers are designed based on the best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by British author Mark Haddon. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a Crime/Thriller story for readers ages 12-14. While it is a thriller, the story is a dark comedy told through the eyes of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who is a mathematical genius but struggles with building his social skills.

For the fan-art book covers that were designed using Canva, the dog has purposely been placed the dog in the center of the cover to emphasize the story's primary purpose: the dog—hence the title of the story. Also, having the dog painted red symbolizes the dog's death while also separating the dog from the book cover's background, indicating the significance of the dog to the story. The cover's significant title is purposely centered with the dog underneath the text to show the connection between the image and the title. So, the title is the main attraction of the cover, along with the dog's image underneath. Additionally, having the words colored in white makes the title and the author's name stand out from the dark blue background. Similarly, the dog manages to pop-out from the dark background because of the brightness of the red, directing an individual's attention immediately to the dog's image since it is a bright, close-to-neon red. While the cover art and background remain the same in both pictures, the font styles are different, setting a different tone to the cover and the story's idea.

For the first cover, the font is Aloja, a handwritten font created by Leva Mezule. Every letter was hand-drawn with a thin brush on acrylic paper, making a visually unique typeface ideal for posters, invitations, and cover art. Furthermore, because Aloja is such a unique font that is more free-spirited and fun, it sets a lively tone to the book, giving the idea that the story is less dark and more lighthearted than the author intended. Also, the font is distorted and crooked, mirroring the mystery and puzzlement of the story in an artsy fashion.

Meanwhile, the second fan-art book cover uses a more structured font that sets a less fun but more serious tone to the cover, Norwester by Jamie Wilson. Like Helvetica, Norwester is a san-serif, commonly used in the world of professionalism. However, Norwester is more condensed, geometric, and is only in uppercase and small caps. Unlike Aloja, Norwester is a professional headline font used on book covers, billboards, and signs. Norwester is more legible than Aloja since Norwester is more structured and technical, rather than being excessively artsy. Therefore, the second cover's font sets a serious tone to the story that contradicts the target audience, seeming more fit for older audiences than the first cover.

Thus, the first cover manages to get the message across that the book is for the author's intended audience, young adults. Also, unlike the second cover, the first cover hints that there is a mystery within the story, but it is a comedic tale with a dark, thrilling twist. Meanwhile, the second cover seems more severe and directed to older audiences that are eighteen and older rather than young adults.

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