Tips from the Experts: Book Cover Design

Want to succeed in art licensing? Bridgeman gets industry advice on which defining elements make up the picture-perfect book cover

In the start of our new series exploring the art of image licensing, Lily Richards, Picture Researcher for Vintage at Penguin Random House, one of the largest book publishing companies in the world, reveals what she looks for when licensing images for a book cover:

Book covers need to lead a reader to want to pick the book up in the first place, so a bold image with strong composition is essential. The image needs to say something about the book, the mood of the work, period and genre, but remain intriguing so you want to know more – certainly for fiction it should not give away everything.

There also needs to be space for the author and title. I like an image to be able to breathe on the cover. The artwork is essential to the design.

Left: Cover of Euripides' 'Bacchae', designed by Lily Richards. Image is a detail of 'Bacchus Standing Before Vesuivus' fresco Right: Cover of William Somerset Maugham's 'The Gentleman in the Parlour' is a detail of 1920s German advert for Kaloderma soap

Left: Cover of Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’, designed by Lily Richards. Image is a detail of ‘Bacchus Standing Before Vesuivus’ fresco
Right: Cover of William Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Gentleman in the Parlour’ is a detail of 1920s German advert for Kaloderma soap

More tips from the Bridgeman Team:

• Look at what is trending in the licensing world: trends come and go, so read our Wish List to see
what themes are currently in demand

• Consider anniversaries and annual celebrations: There will always be a licensing demand around
celebrations like Easter, Christmas and sporting events

• A clear, bold image has more chance of working across multiple types of licensing deals

• “Speak to millions and you reach no one. Speak to one individual and you reach millions.”
Be true to yourself rather than create something you think people will like.

This post first appeared as a part of a longer article of expert tips for the Bridgeman Studio Award 2014. Read more

See more book covers that have used Bridgeman images


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