Beautiful Book Covers For Design Inspiration

Although print is still a popular means of content consumption, there’s a lot of digital design work involved in the printing process. Print books all need great covers and those covers are always designed on computers.

There’s no one correct answer to what makes a great book cover. Marketing, concepting, and maybe some foreshadowing all play a vital role.

But the more you look at great examples the more ideas you’ll have for your own work—book covers or otherwise. In this post we’ll look into some beautiful book covers to get ideas for book cover design concepts.

Illustrative Cover Art

The creative side of every designer leans towards more artsy subjects. These creative ideas are often artistic in nature to better express the attitude of the book.

liars club 20th anniversary cover
The Liars’ Club has a wonderful illustrated cover that immediately catches your attention. This new cover is actually the twenty year anniversary edition, the book originally being published in late 1995.

You’ll notice the illustrated style isn’t incredibly detailed or feature-oriented. It looks more like a quick sketch with a certain attitude.

Book covers can be absolutely anything in any style that best depicts the content. This is why creative ideas work great in so many circumstances where the author wants an imaginative feeling.

Gutshot by Amelia Gray is another book cover that really captures your imagination. The illustrative style changes drastically around the neck to a much more detailed view of muscles and tendons.

gunshot cover artwork book
The idea is to catch people’s attention with a book cover that fits the title and the theme. Although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, there is a lot to say about great cover artwork.

If you like the Disney/Pixar style of art then take a look at Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

This is a New York Times #1 Bestseller and a top seller on Amazon. The book has raving reviews and has won numerous awards.

inside out back again book cover artwork
What I love most about this cover is how it’s designed perfectly for the audience. The book is mostly geared towards a younger audience, and the cover artwork captures this brilliantly.

And since the artistic style is in line with Disney artwork, it seems natural that kids would be drawn towards it.

But there’s always more colorful and obscure illustrative covers like Tokyo on Foot by Florent Chavouet.

This might be one of my favorite covers just for the theme and art style alone. It has a rough adventurous look to the design, but it also feels natural to a typical Japanese neighborhood.

tokyo on foot book cover illustration
If you like illustration then it’s always a great choice for book covers. Drawing or painting a cover removes all limitations from the design; only your expansive creativity remains.

Typographic Styles

Since books are all about words on the printed page, you might lean in the direction of custom typography instead of big graphics.

Every book needs a title and that title is written in text. So it makes sense to design the cover with unique text effects to sell the book using visuals and type.

shallows internet doing to brains cover
A great example of this is The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. It’s a NYT bestseller and features a prominent series of reviews.

Some may look at the book cover and say it’s rather plain. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so one can’t say that’s right or wrong.

But the typography does stand out and it’s a unique strategy to take up the entire cover with text effects.

librarian book cover novel
A more dynamic look can be found on The Librarian by a Ukrainian writer named Mikhail Elizarov. The title is fractured yet lively at the same time.

You can read the title but it’s also difficult to consume. The effect may be off-putting to some but cherished by others.

One other really cool example is How To Drink by Victoria Moore. All the letter “o”s in her name and the title collect together to form bubbles floating along the page.

how to drink book cover artwork
Get creative with your designs and think of a thematic purpose. Always draw readers into the book with a cover that highlights the contents and uses visually appealing designs.

Photo Manipulations

Realism is yet another popular choice for book covers. Photographs are much easier to create than custom-made illustrations.

But you also want photos that capture attention and define the book’s motives. They can be rather complex, but I find the simplest photos(or photo manipulations) work best for book covers.

Take a look at the cover of Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance. It’s just a black-and-white photo of Aziz with colored hearts over his eyes.

aziz ansari modern romance book cover
It’s an incredibly simple idea but it’s well constructed and blends nicely with the book’s subject matter.

This design also didn’t require much photo manipulation so it shows that basic covers can work great. But consider a more detailed example like No Such Person by Caroline Cooney.

no such person novel cover
It may not be an incredibly detailed manipulation project. But the photo fits the theme and helps to sell the book with some mystery and intrigue.

This is the true value of a photo-based book cover. You want to convey certain themes, ideas, or concepts with visuals to hook readers into the book.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson is an example that combines typographic effects with photo manipulation.

the room book cover design
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Most of these examples can apply to all forms of graphic design, so in this regard you’re never just limited to book covers.

Abstract Designs

We all know those crazy books with absurd cover designs. They don’t seem to make sense, yet they fit so brilliantly with the title.

I love abstract designs when they’re done appropriately with an idea in mind. They can combine various skillsets including digital art, graphic design, photo and text manipulation. This is what makes abstract covers so exciting because they’re so unpredictable.

voices in the night book cover
Voices in the Night by Steven Millhauser uses a bland foldover effect with a repeating black and white stripe pattern. High contrast is always a great way to draw attention, and the abstract nature of the design is sure to draw eyeballs.

But you can get even more abstract and creative when you have a book that conveys a specific meaning.

An interesting new book Pressed for Time talks about how technology seems to change our perception of time and business. The cover uses browser windows designs to show that even reading the book may leave you feeling pressed for time.

pressed for time book cover design
The excitement of designing a book cover is how you can get creative and try out anything.

It’s similar to music and art in the sense that people are often receptive to anything. They’re open to new ideas if you can present something that’s riveting and strikes a chord with people.

Whether you’re designing your own book cover or just looking for graphic design inspiration, this post should be a great start on your creative journey.

And if you’re looking for more ideas check out some of these related posts:

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