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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Top 10 Book Cover Design Trends You Should Be Following


The book cover is the reader's first taste of what's to come, a promise that must be delivered. If the design is lacklustre in its style, color palette, typeface, or imagery, the book will likely be overlooked. From the date of its release, a book is fighting to survive among the throngs of new titles it must compete with.

In the days before design trends and clever marketing ploys ruled all, telling a story was the sole responsibility of the book itself. Today, with reader appetites growing in demand for both style and substance, the cover now has its own story to tell. Or, at least, it should.

Telling a story through the medium of a book cover might sound like an impossible feat, but it doesn't have to be. The following top 10 book cover design trends illustrate exactly what styles can be adopted to gain the upper hand when fighting it out for a reader's attention.

Less is more

Minimalism is a growing trend in cover design that doesn't appear to be fading from readers' tastes any time soon. This minimalist approach uses simplicity to guarantee focus on a specific element. These covers often feature a one- or two-color palette in contrast to the multi-patterned covers that can drown a front page in a flood of detail.

Less is more book cover example
When designers minimise the detail on the cover, what little they provide becomes louder in contrast, creating a deeper impact. The central element becomes the sole focus of the cover, utilising white space to better grab the attention of a reader.


Blurred or indistinct images or type give the impression of a psychedelic, even kaleidoscopic element, lending an otherworldly sense to the cover. This relatively new effect is a rapidly growing design trend used to capture the reader's eye and interest as they scan bookshelves.

Blurring book cover example
This blurring trend often depicts an alternate reality or tech-inspired world, reflecting on the central theme through futuristic imagery. Though the futuristic effect it enforces is most commonly used in sci-fi and fantasy, this trend has grown in popularity and today appears across a wide range of genres and topics.

Experiment with typography

Boldness in typography is a timeless trend. The human eye is naturally inclined to identify and scan letters, and designers are always keen to exploit this attraction to words by creating a bold and alluring typography.

Experiment with typography book cover example
Detailed, hard-to-read fonts scream amateur hour, so designers tend toward large type in simplistic, understated fonts in a creative layout. Clean typography is also a fan favourite, and designers are happy to cater to those tastes.


Abstract or surrealistic art is hugely popular, often dominating auctions and museum space. So it's no surprise that this trend has been adopted to grace an ever-growing number of book covers in today's market.

Surrealism book cover example
These abstract, thought-provoking images paint a picture without words that intrigue the reader and resonate with them. Some of the most influential book covers are those that urge the reader to ask a question. Conventional approaches to cover design are being flouted in favor of artistic blends that can get to the heart of a book's central theme without words.

Eye-catching patterns

There are benefits to going up against the growing trend of minimalism. When authors adopt that style of simplicity, they allow pattern-devoted writers the space for their covers to pop in contrast.

Take for instance a cover with a sharp geometric print and appealing color palette sitting in between two-toned, minimalist designed books. The abundance of unfilled space on either side renders the splashes and stripes of colored pattern incredibly eye-catching.

Eye-catching patterns book cover example
Given the diminishing attention spans of humans — rivalling that of a goldfish at eight lengthy seconds — it works to cater to those spans by being memorable through boldness. Graphic designers and authors more inclined to this creative approach are taking full advantage of this style to best advertise their books.

Real photographs, real people

In an online world of bots and automated emails, viewers find it almost comforting to see a photograph of a real person on a book cover. Today's readers are pros at spotting stock images. These widely used pictures are so recognizable that they fail to resonate with viewers, and designers understand this.

These designers are responsible for reinvigorating a trend that is becoming more and more popular. Capturing cover-quality photographs is easier than ever thanks to smartphone capabilities, and designers are taking full advantage of this.

Photograph book cover example
Real-life images, particularly close-ups, speak to readers to spark emotion and connection. This year has already seen the rapid demise of reliance on stock photos, alongside an increased preference for real-life images. And this trend is set to continue.

Creation of depth

Any designer worth their salt will utilise every inch of space available to them to create an eye-catching cover. They go beyond colors, patterns, and minimalism to design a cover that establishes an intriguing illusion of depth.

This effect crafts in the reader's mind the idea that there is depth to the book they hopefully have in their hands. The choice for this style goes beyond literal "deep" images.

Creation of depth book cover example
Designers are creating depth using elements such as the effect of ripped pages, the use of shadows to create a 3D effect, and forced perspective strategies.

Rough sketches

For readers with more traditional design preferences, it's almost a breath of fresh air to see a simple, sketched illustration on a book's cover. And designers are taking full advantage of the sentimental feeling these sketches can evoke.

This simplistic, raw design practically proclaims substance over flash, giving the reader a hint as to the quality of the book. Authors and designers are more often opting for this unique approach to design by using a range of artistic techniques to best imitate the stroke of a pencil.

Rough sketch book cover example
The irony of this trend is that most of these seemingly hand-drawn illustrations are actually computer generated. These designs encompass the visual style of a hand-crafted sketch using photo-editing software, enabling designers with little sketching ability to take part in this upward trend.

Color and contrast

While color trends fade in and out of popularity, the importance of contrast and aesthetically pleasing color palettes never goes out of style, no matter the timeline. Designers are adopting the "bolder is better" palette to develop color combinations that make a cover pop.

Creating a combination is a work-in-progress that can take time, but it's time well spent. Authors should strive to stay within the color confines of their genre or topic. It might be tempting to push the envelope, but readers will likely be put off by the sight of a romance novel decorated in deep shades of black and green.

Color and contrast book cover example
Today, designers are opting for either a cool minimalist approach, or a bold, vivid palette. Designs that fall in the middle, resting in neither camp, seem to have fallen out of favor with authors and designers, at least for the time being.

Blended title and imagery

Graphic designers are killing two birds with one stone by using the growing trend of incorporating title and imagery to blend them as one. Here, front-cover images are put to work as both cover art and letter placement, where objects take the place of letters in the title.

Blended title and imagery book cover example
This clever trend works to signify a connection between the imagery and title that resonates with a reader. This unique approach generally foregoes other imagery to place an emphasis on the title-centric design using imaginative tactics.

Many authors are tempted to become a Jack of all trades when the writing is done, ready to take on the burden of designing their own book cover. This happens for one of two reasons: thriftiness and control. Graphic designers can be pricey, but this isn't the area to skimp on. Saving pennies here can cost a lot more down the road in lost book sales.

As for control, a deep dive into the world of freelance designers should turn up at least one or two receptive to an author's ever-changing tastes. Even the most minimalist book cover requires a designer's skillset and experience.

An amateur at the helm of the design process will be abundantly clear to any reader with a semi-keen eye for detail. And they won't want to take a chance on an amateur. Working with a designer to employ trends and apply style won't guarantee book sales, but it does provide the author a fighting chance in the never-ending struggle for a spot-on readers' bookshelves.

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