What Makes A Book cover Timeless…



I’m writing this while in the middle of researching over book cover to try and get inspiration for my own design, and trying to drown out loose women with “Miles David ‘Round About Midnight”.

As I’m not as well versed in book cover designers I simply google a generic term like “Best Book Cover Design” and opened up the first 3 links… my reasoning was if their SEO was good enough to show up in such a generic search like this than the content must be good.

The first link, “The 50 Coolest Bookcover” by Shortlist I have already seen and is where I got a majority of book covers for my other post on Book Cover Research.

The Second, “The 20 Best Book Cover of 2015 (So Far) on pastemagazine.com, was A new page for me for me and featured a lot of covers that I had not seen before… a majority of them I didn’t love – When compared to the “Shortlist” list.

The third and final page was a Book Archive – A collection of book covers, all of which I though were superb.

This got me thinking, What makes a design good or bad. And what will make it timeless?

To discuss this and try to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t for myself I will analyse and compare two covers. One from Book Cover Archive and one from the Paste Magazine article. Doing this will hopefully give and you, the reader’s. An insight into what works and what doesn’t.


I would liked to make a quick note before starting that all these points are my opinion on what is good – and this is all subjective . Also I would like to note that the Paste Magazine article could have more filler in it as websites love to make top 10 or 20 list even if their was only 3 or 4 good covers so this list could potentially be full of filler designs but in the article to pad it out…


Also for a bit more context into this experiment I would like to note that I have not read every of these books and my judgement is based only off the cover – So deeper or contextual meaning built within the cover may go over my head and I can only speculate on them. I am judging them as if I was in a book shop and see have these two books in my hand and I have to pick one – Which one grabs my attention more? Which one will I buy?… I am judging a book exclusively by it’s cover.












Here are my two cover I have picked.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 10.59.47.png


From Paste Magazine: Disclaimer by Renée Knight. Designed by Sunil Manchikanti.

And from Book Cover Archive: Alena: A Novel by Rachel Pastan. Designed by Abby Weintraub.



For me, the first time I looked at their two covers it was easy to tell which one I liked more. Alena cover seems more eye catching and more professional… and well overall better. It has a cleaner look although still having a lot going on – like the textured water background and multiple colours. I Think this is because of harmony and balances to the cover, this alone with the bold primary colours on the front with a nice textured paint design works well with the background as the two aren’t usually placed together and this creates a more striking and unique image.

When compared to “Disclaimer” what has some of the same elements in theory, A Textured background & Bold Colours however this cover is a lot more cluttered and doesn’t have the same simplist effect as “Alena”. I think if I wear to make the “Disclaimer” cover I would but a higher focus on balance and making the cover look simple when in fact it is layered and detailed.   


After looking at the two I can now tell that making a more striped back cover is harder then it looks and I’ll have to but a high amount of focus on the balance and making sure that my cover isn’t empty feeling and bland.


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