I can’t be the only one attached to my favorite book’s original cover—so why does it seem to change so often?
The saying is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we all do—and we’re actually supposed to. Someone designed that cover with specific intentions for you, the reader, to pull the book off the shelf and take a closer look. If I think about it too hard, I realize how shallow and materialistic I am as a reader and how hard a cover has to work just to get me to pick it up. My recent interest in cover design has to do with a challenge I’m undertaking this year to read at least thirty books with a main character who would be classified as a minority in America. Finding books that show this diversity on the cover is actually a lot more difficult than I expected.
Typography is an important aspect of any cover. It’s the first thing readers read on a book. The typeface must not only be compatible with whatever images are displayed on the cover, but also with the genre in which the book is positioned. Covers that use the typography as their primary design feature are referred to as “typographic covers.” These are the ones with limited imagery, photographic or otherwise, where the title and author take up most of the space. With these covers, finding the right font is more important than ever.
I’ve always judged a book by its cover even though the saying tells you not to, and I doubt that anyone would completely dismiss the cover when deciding whether to read a book. After researching some cover trends both today and in recent years, I wondered how well At the Waterline stands against today’s market trends.
With the river books of Ooligan Press (Ricochet River and At the Waterline) sent happily upstream to the printers, the next big project for Team Design is focusing on Ooligan’s revised edition of the Sierra Club guidebook, 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. Originally published in 2001 as a trail guide for Sierra Club members, this collection provides trail descriptions, hiking difficulty rankings, and regional history. The second edition will include updated information, featured photographs, original illustrations, plant guides, and a new introduction. This title offered the design department plenty of creative potential, which began with researching and designing concepts for a fitting cover.
The last time you heard from the Ocean in My Ears team, we were busy copyediting the manuscript. Well, now the copyediting is finished, and we have since turned our attention to the cover. Like many of our projects at Ooligan Press, this was a collaborative effort. Taylor Farris came up with the original concept for the cover that featured a watercolor splash, a denim textured font, and a clean aesthetic; Leigh Thomas built upon this design, adding the mountains and the reflection, as well as fine-tuning the details; and Riley Pittenger hand drew the illustrated car. Needless to say, the result is a cover that is more than the sum of its parts, but let’s go ahead and take a closer look at some of those parts anyway.