Psychology behind good book cover design

  • Choosing an eye-catching image for the book cover is crucial in attracting readers.
  • Colour choice on a cover plays a significant role in influencing reader perceptions and interest.
  • Professionalism and strategic design, like the Z-pattern layout, are key to making a book compelling to potential buyers.

We all know the saying: "Don't judge a book by its cover." But in reality, more often than not, we judge almost every other book by its cover before taking it to the cash counter and ringing it up.  

Much like the venue of the Clue Chase, escape games tells you what kind of games you can expect inside. Similarly, a book cover gives you a mouthfeel of what is inside. The cover of any book tells the reader what genre the given belongs to, but whether a book would be worth their time. It is much on the book's cover that decides whether or not people would buy it.  

So, do you know what the enigmatic psychology behind every good book cover design that attracts readers like a moth to fire is? Well, let us find out together:

The correct image choice goes a long way

Choosing the most appropriate image to design the cover of a given book is an essential factor. Using eye-grabbing images that draw in readers almost instantly is something that you must pay attention to. Cause, let us be realistic – humans have grown lazier than before with time. They are always on the lookout to make the process of decision-making easier and less hectic. It includes looking for useful factors that can help make decisions easier.  

Often, we tend to make our reading choices based on the authors we like or the books that our friends or colleagues are reading/talking about. Now, when it comes to choosing a book, other than these few factors, it's often the catchy image that the cover of the book has that we look for.  

It goes on something like this: we are standing before a whole shelf of books, and our eyes zoom into those one or two books that have an interesting cover, and voila! That's the 'new' book that we are most likely to try out.  

Thus, making the book cover as appealing as possible is a vital factor to pay attention to.  

The correct colour choice

It is interesting how even the colour of your book cover has a vital role to play. Every person who comes across the same given book is likely to interpret them in uniquely different ways. Studies have revealed how people associate colours with temperature, smell, and taste! These varied associations transform into feelings and thereby help readers make a decision.  

For instance, one can associate the colour yellow with the sun or even citrus fruits and thereby feels that such a colour creates a sense of happiness in them. Therefore, if you wish to give readers the idea that your book is light-hearted and optimistic, then you might as well splash some yellow on its cover!  

Keep in mind that the notion of colour perception is subjective to an individual's age, gender, and distinctive cultural background. For instance, red might be associated with anger or power by some, while loving and excitement for others. The following questions might be insightful in helping you choose the perfect colours for your book cover:

  • What genre does your book fall in?
  • What kind of tone does your book rely on?
  • What kind of people are most likely to read your book?  

Hint of professionalism

Professionalism is a vital factor when it comes to designing the perfect cover for your book. Your book cover must accurately convey the story of the book in bits and pieces to the reader, and in doing this, it should not be amateurish. Your cover is what is going to compel your reader to buy the book. Thus, it is vital that you make it look compelling, such that it helps readers decide whether or not they should buy it.  

The art that you utilise in designing your book cover should not, however, tell the entire story to the readers bluntly but needs to rather give them a little hint. Get your cover to entice the reader, such that they are made to pick up the book from the shelf and have a look at it!

Use the Z-Pattern layout

Yet another vital factor in designing your book cover lies in following a layout that the human eye can follow easily. The Z-pattern layout is one such useful layout that you can use for designing your book cover. The human eye tends to naturally get hooked to visuals that are arranged in a Z-pattern. It is even evident in the manner that we read – from left to right and from top to bottom.  

The Z-pattern is best portrayed in book covers with the help of text that is sprawled across the top to bottom, with the image in the middle placed at a slight angle. Even though symmetrical layouts are also appealing to the human eye, the Z-pattern is far more engaging than that.  

So, combine your skill and talents as you design a great book cover for your book today. You can rely upon the various psychological factors lying behind a book cover, as we discussed above, and design your cover. Now, you can get started with designing your book cover or even hire a professional to do it for you!

About the author of this guest post: Charlotte Lin is a content creator at She’s a passionate young woman, mother to an amazing nine-year-old, and an avid reader. Over the years, writing has helped her explore and understand the world as well as her own self. She loves to travel, meet new people, and spend quality time with her daughter. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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