Cover Designs to Help Books Fly off the Shelves

It’s true: we judge books by their covers. For a significant number of people, the cover is one of the determining factors when purchasing a book. It is often the packaging that captures the attention of potential readers. When choosing between different covers of the same book, a reader will often reach for the one with a better design.

Publishers can make their books fly off the shelves with the right book cover, using these techniques:


Proper use of contrast will make a design “pop.” Striking contrasts between light and shadow draw attention to the main object or character. Do this by placing a well-lit subject against a dark background or vice-versa. Using contrasting (but complementary) colours can also be used for this effect.

Negative Space

Whether or not the book cover is minimalistic, the proper use of negative space can create a powerful design. There should be enough space between the lines of text (and letters) for better readability and word “flow.” Covers with busy images should have space allotted for text.



Focus on what is important: A well-loved author probably has an established loyal following who will purchase any book that features their name. Place that selling point in big, bold letters.

For newer authors, the title should take precedence over all other text, followed by the author’s name. Taglines or “teasers” should be in a much smaller font.


The font type should be consistent with the genre. It is (for example) inappropriate to use a highly embellished typeface with too many flourishes for a science fiction tale or crime novel. It is also eyebrow-raising to apply a clean, modern typeface on the cover of a romance novel or a children’s book.





Readers often prefer certain genres over others. Making the genre apparent on the book cover signals to the potential buyer the book may be one of interest. Science fiction or fantasy novels will often depict surreal landscapes and action-packed imagery. Romance novels often feature sensual images. Mystery novels make use of perspective or highlight the title if it generates enough intrigue on its own.


Malcolm Gladwell Books

Harry Potter Series

Whether the book is part of the series or not, consider author branding. This means using similar elements, typefaces, or colour schemes for all books by the same author. One example is the Harry Potter series, with its unique, personalized font that’s been used for both the books and movies. In the non-fiction arena, Malcolm Gladwell (author of the Tipping Point) uses the same typeface for his name on most of his books.


Hardcover copies are the designed for durability and long-term use or storage, making them the preferred copies for libraries and collectors. Paperback, although less durable, is smaller, lighter, and designed for portability — a better choice for frequent travellers or people who read on the go. Copies in paperback are also less expensive; cautious buyers considering new authors will prefer a paperback over the hardcover.

The book cover is a major selling point. It determines whether a book stays on the shelves or becomes part of a well-loved collection. Choose design elements wisely — including the image, font style, and use durable material.

If you need supplies for book covers, Hammond Paper offers quality paperboard. We use recycled and recyclable materials that are 100% sustainable. We also customize paperboard to your desired size, thickness, and shape. Call us today at 1-877-750-CHIP (2447) to secure environmentally friendly and durable book cover materials to suit your publishing needs.