Cover to cover: Anatomy of the book

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What is a book and what goes in making of a book? In this series of articles, GS Jolly will explain the attributes of a book and the insight into its production. This issue, he talks about the various parts of a book cover. A book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and it can make a lasting impression. Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something. A great cover can help the readers instantly recognize that this book is for them.

Front Cover

It generally consists of the title of the book, the name of the author and translator or illustrator, occasionally name of the publisher. Some publishers include the place of publication and year of publication. Choose a good working title and sub title. Keep it short. Make the subtitle as descriptive as possible. Make sure any graphics on the cover are crisp, clean, and preferably related to the subject matter, otherwise, make them neutral. Make sure all text is readable. Front cover usually has the following information:

  • Title
  • Subtitle if there is one
  • Author’s full name
  • Illustrator’s full name – if the book is an illustrated children’s story or other image rich publication
  • Optional – Foreword or introduction author name – especially if renowned
  • Optional – Publishers name is optional or may be represented by an emblem or logo
  • Optional – Quotation from reviewer – especially if from a renowned source

Back Cover

Back cover usually has the following information:

  • Promotional text or a synopsis of the book
  • Quotations from reviewers – especially if they are from recognizable sources
  • Brief author biographical information – About the Author – can include small photo
  • ISBN Bar Code
  • Publishers name is optional or may be represented by an emblem or logo.
  • Publisher or author web site address
  • Photographer or illustrator credit (optional or placed in tiny print along the side of the spine)

Spine

The spine of the book consists of the title of the book, name of the author and publisher’s logo. This is, most often, the very first thing a potential buyer in a bookstore sees about your book. It needs to be very readable, so choose a bolded sans-serif font. Make the font readable in a vertical format since people don’t like to strain their necks to read book titles. The following elements are shown on the spine.

  • Title
  • Optional – Subtitle is usually omitted unless it is short and necessary to the title
  • Author’s full name is preferable, but can be shortened to last name only for space
  • Optional – Publishers name is optional or may be represented by an emblem or device (colophon)

Front inner flap

It contains information about the author, if it is not given on the back cover.

  • An interesting short quotations from the book
  • Photos or small images – an excellent place to carry over your design elements
  • Quotations from reviewers – quotes not used on the back cover

Back inner flap

  • It contains information about the book. These pieces of information are called blurbs, short author’s bio with or without a photo
  • Photos or small images – an excellent place to carry over your design elements
  • Additional books by the same author with small cover images
  • Cover designer or photographer credit

(Next issue, read about the parts of the book.)

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