Before I dive into the complex world of book covers, I should confess that my rudimentary and frankly half-hearted initial search quickly turned into a passionate and intense hunt for cultural trends, typography, and design. It turns out that book covers are fascinating and not altogether unlike clothing fashion. Just as I wear styles first adopted by fashion icons who convince me of their chic-cool factor (I’m looking at you, overalls and turtlenecks), there are design bandwagoners for book covers as well.
With the rise of global warming, natural disasters are becoming more and more common. As a new student to publishing, and as someone that wants to continue in this field, I’m left to wonder how this multi-billion dollar business can help. After the recent hurricanes that have devastated Puerto Rico, the publishing industry is taking a stand to help. #PubforPR (Publishing for Puerto Rico) was an auction held in the wake of hurricane María. Auctioning off everything from signed books to custom artwork, the auction received over 4,500 bids with all donations going toward Unidos por Puerto Rico and ConPRmetidos. This willingness to come together and help led me to wonder what else the publishing industry has done to help with relief efforts.
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.
For a book to stand out in the marketplace, the typography element must be as important as all other aspects of the cover. All of the pieces must work together to cultivate a feeling or message about what one can expect inside the book.
It was the ’80s, and desktop publishing was just starting to take off. Bringhurst felt the sudden availability of digital fonts would overwhelm any inclination toward rational design and cause typographical chaos. He did what any perfectionist would do: write a book.
Every teacher ever told me to submit papers typed in Times New Roman, twelve-point font, double-spaced; I assumed it was the be-all and end-all of professional-looking typefaces. Times New Roman was so ingrained in my being that the idea of using another typeface hadn’t even occurred to me.