A great book cover should be striking, memorable, profound, and, most of all, eye-catching. It should pull a reader across a bookstore with a flash of color or a slick effect. But today, designers must think beyond the physical bookstore and consider the digital one as well. The parameters of each differ in nearly every respect. So, how have designers adjusted? With the huge growth in online sales, has the digital bookstore begun to drive the design process?
Here are some tips offered by Penguin Random House experts on cover design and selling online.
The Sizing Challenge.
The most noticeable difference between a cover’s presentation online and in person is its size. On the shelf, a cover might be 10″x6″, but online it shrinks to about an inch on a computer screen—and even smaller on a mobile device. Given this discrepancy, you might think that the solution to this conundrum would be creating two different covers—one that works on a larger scale and one that pops at a fraction of that size. But designers warn against this. The cover is the most obvious consumer-facing branding of a book, and designers want to ensure that a reader can recognize that brand across all formats and platforms. Whether a reader sees the cover in a promotional email recommending the book, in the window as she passes her local bookstore, or online when she goes to buy it, she should see the same image every time. The consistency bolsters her relationship with the book and increases the likelihood of purchase.
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This skit by the British comedy team David Mitchell and Robert Webb from Channel 4’s “That Mitchell and Webb Look” sketch show kinda feels like the circular discussions that many of us sometimes have with clients, creative directors and team leaders. OK, not quite like that, but kinda like this. OK, the talk isn’t about fictional heroes, sex or killer sharks, but swap out the sex and killer sharks with marketing lingo and brand positioning and it’s almost identical. Well, not identical, but close. The free-association constructive criticism has the same baffling effect. Maybe not, but you know what I mean. If you don’t feel like that, just ignore this and enjoy the video for what it is. Or not.
With the right technology (and talent), there’s no such thing as still photos anymore. The technique in this video is called “parallax effect,” which makes it appear that objects closer to the viewer move faster than those that are farther away. Joe Fellows from Make Productions in London made this film using still images from the World Wildlife Fund archives. As quoted in SLRLounge.com, Fellows explains, “We used Photoshop to cut out individual parts and then animated them in After Effects…There was no 3D mapping, all in 2D. There are many layers per shot, the ears, the teeth, the whiskers, the head, the body, the background are all separate layers. Then the layers are parented to one another and moved either by position or by using something called the puppet tool.” Set to the music of “What If This Storm Ends” by Snow Patrol, the result is a “high-speed” slow-motion parallax sequence film that presents a poetic, dreamlike study of nature in motion.
Chicago-based commercial photographer Francois Robert has a unique way of seeing things that most of us don’t see. About 20 years ago, Francois and his Swiss designer brother, Jean, made us aware of anthropomorphic features in inanimate objects such as padlocks, mops, door knockers and light switches, and photographed these expressive faces and presented them in the book, “Face to Face.”
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