Pandemic lockdowns have prompted people to embrace reading as a safe form of recreation and a great way to keep children engaged and learning. According to NPD BookScan, sales of printed books increased 8.2% in 2020 compared to 2019.
But, if you are an author who wants to compete in this growing market, it is not enough to write a good book. Your book should also have a nice, eye-catching cover that can amplify your marketing strategies.
The design of the book cover is more critical than ever. With so many buyers shopping online, cover design is one of the most direct and consistent selling tools you have.
Let’s take a look at six important book cover design trends for 2021, with examples from Crowdspring book cover designers.
Read the full analysis of the top 8 book cover design trends for 2021.
1. Creative title graphics
The title of the book is essential. It serves to grab the attention of potential readers and tell them something important about the story or the content inside. Finding unique and creative ways to bring attention to the title is a graphic designer’s primary goal for cover designs.
In 2020, we saw book cover designers replace single (or multiple) letters in book titles with photographic images, icons, and illustrations.
These “in-title” images help draw viewers’ eyes to the title and share insight into the topics, themes, or characters of the book when chosen wisely. This versatile design trend can make a cover more visible and help people better understand your book, two crucial steps that help convert browsers into buyers. That’s why we expect to see more teams of writers and book cover designers embracing this book cover design trend and relying on bold typography to draw attention to the cover.
2. Illusions of depth
Artists have embraced trompe-l’œil (creating art to “trick the eye”) since Zeuxis and Parrhasius faced it in ancient Greece. And today’s book cover designers always know that fooling viewers’ eyes with a compelling illustration is a great way to grab their attention.
But designers are continually pushing the boundaries and innovating. So don’t expect to see only banal hyperrealistic forms of trompe-l’oeil. Today’s designers put their twist on the classic while maintaining an eye-catching visual impact.
In 2021, look for artwork that seems to break the boundaries of coverage (as you can see on the cover of Wholehearted Leadership), fake windows that seem to reveal hidden depths (like the cover of Chicago Story-tellers: From Stage to Page), or implicit textures such as torn pages. Stunning designs that burst or jump on two-dimensional covers will continue to gain popularity as a book cover trend in 2021 and beyond.
Minimalism is an ever popular design style. You’ll find it in 2021 logo design trends, packaging design trends, website design, and book cover design trends. But what is minimalism?
Minimalistic cover designs feature clean fonts, simple graphics, and lots of white space. This can be a beneficial design technique to draw attention to your book. A calm resting point on a visually busy shelf is a natural eye-catcher.
The challenge of minimalism lies in selecting the right typography, the right graphics, and the right layout, as there are no excessive frills to fall back on. You should also make sure that all the elements are in balance. For example, the title should use a more prominent and bolder font than the author’s name, unless you have a large, established audience that buys every book you publish.
Every graphic and detail must communicate the right message. Large white space (space left blank for text or images) should be arranged to draw viewers’ eyes to critical words and graphics. No one ever said simple was easy. But, when executed well, minimalist book covers work very well. In 2021, minimalist designs will continue to appear on book covers in the market.
4. Bold patterns
Throughout 2021, courageous writers and designers will adopt boldly patterned covers to stand out in the sea of minimalism and muted colors. You should never choose a bold design for your book cover just to be a maverick. But, if a bold pattern supports your book’s theme, it can be a trend to embrace.
For example, for the cover of Perspective and advice for a time of deep discord, the gradient-colored arrows point in a chaotic range of directions as a visual metaphor for the discord discussed in the book. Custom designs like this help your readers better understand the topic of the book.
If you choose to use a bold design on your book cover, it’s also important to remember to choose an equally bold typography (text elements) that won’t be overpowered by her. Readability should always be the primary consideration, transcending trends. Are you interested in bold patterns and are they appropriate for your book? If so, then this hedging trend could be for you.
5. Retro and nostalgia
Old-fashioned design elements can inspire readers to recall what once was and even evoke positive feelings associated with that time while flipping through the pages. Whenever times get tough, people tend to look back fondly. It’s no surprise, then, that in the wake of 2020 – one of the most difficult years many people have ever known – the power of nostalgia is increasing. For this reason, we believe that heartwarming retro design elements will gain popularity in 2021.
But this trend is not for all books. If your work doesn’t deal with nostalgic themes or take place in a bygone era, a retro cover design may confuse your readers. We suggest you handle this design trend carefully.
If your book has a logical thematic relationship with a particular period, feel free to adopt style elements from that period in your cover design. But cover images that represent a specific period should be reserved for works taking place in that period.
6. Clean, easy-to-read typography
Clean, easy-to-read typography is always in fashion. In 2021, this is more important than ever. In recent months, people who visit bookstores in person have shopped quickly to minimize time spent indoors in public. Many others buy books online, which means seeing only tiny thumbnail images of the covers.
Book covers with clear typography are more comfortable to read from a distance (or on a smaller scale, like a thumbnail image) and more likely to grab a buyer’s attention. We see this cover trend across themes, from love books to non-fiction. Authors who are thinking about the logistics of selling their books are prioritizing clean typography for their book covers in 2021. Serif fonts are easier to read on paper, and sans serif fonts are easier to read online. . So choose your typography accordingly.
Turn a new page
Every year a new crop of hedging trends emerges. Adopt or ignore these cover trends based on your unique book and unique readership. Most importantly, look for a book cover design that will help you tell your story, attract new readers, and sell more books.
Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at Crowdspring, one of the world’s leading markets for logo design, website design, graphic design, product design, and corporate naming services. business. She writes regularly about entrepreneurship, small business and design on the award winning crowdspring small business blog.
A version of this article appeared in the 6/14/2021 issue of Editors Weekly under the title: Reading books by their covers