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Book Design

How To Make a Book Cover with Public Domain Images

Exploring the public domain Kunstformen der Natur, writer Casey Dexter turned a gorgeous 1904 illustration into part of an eye-catching book cover.

If you are looking for public domain images for your next book cover, we’ve created a list of free resources below. In a Reddit post, Dexter explained how he used the free Microsoft Paint and Pixlr to create the complete cover. Check it out:

I should also give credit to Ernst Haeckel, whose beautiful Kunstformen der Natur is in the public domain … the large text is in century gothic and my name is in century. I don’t know if they’re actually related in any way, but the title was a challenge because of the two big Os – it’s hard to get a default font that kerns properly with vowels like that, and century gothic seemed like one of the best. Century just happened to fit in well with the illustration, I thought. Maybe I’ll eventually get to go at it in Photoshop or something, all the text was done in MS Paint because for some reason there’s a really small text size limit on pixlr.

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The Cover That Launched a Thousand iBookstore Sales

Self-published novelist R.L. Mathewson initially published Playing for Keeps with a plain blue and white cover, but saw a significant sales spike in the iBookstore once she added a steamy Shutterstock photo to her cover (embedded below).

Smashwords founder Mark Coker outlined the sales spike in a chart in his second annual Money Money Money presentation about Smashwords sales (complete slideshow embedded above). We caught up with Mathewson to get some cover design advice from the independent author:

The new covers caught the readers eye and it helped clear up any confusion they may have had about the books. The new cover along with the price helped the books sell. I would say that you should avoid covers that cause confusion, are horrible to look at, too plain, or too over the top. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good cover, but you do need something that can help draw attention to your book and intrigue someone to take a chance on your work.

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Fahrenheit 451 Design Includes Match & Striking Paper

Combining a matchbook and a classic novel, designer Elizabeth Perez created a thought-provoking edition of Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451 for the Austin Creative Department.

Her design made the front page of Reddit, earning more than 400,000 views in a couple days. What do you think? Here’s more from the designer:

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about a dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house that contains them. The story is about supressing ideas, and about how television destroys interest in reading literature. I wanted to spread the book-burning message to the book itself. The book’s spine is screen-printed with a matchbook striking paper suface, so the book itself can be burned.

(Link via)

Fahrenheit 451 Cover Design Contest Winner Revealed

Matthew Owen has won the  Fahrenheit 451 cover design contest from Simon & Schuster and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

The winning cover (embedded above) was revealed at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Owen, who hails from Little Rock, AR, created a cover that beat out more than 360 submissions. Both the Simon & Schuster staff and the Bradbury estate participated in judging the entries.

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What If Classic Novels Had 8-Bit Covers?

Over at Slacktory, artist Oliver Miller has created 8-bit covers for famous books, turning classic novels into pixel-paintings that look like video games from the 1980s.

We’ve embedded Miller’s cover for J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Two Towers above, what do you think about his computerized take on the fantasy novel? The image above built upon Wizard by Radpants at Make Pixel Art and Towers by Mildtoast at Make Pixel Art. If you like his 8-bit art, Miller also illustrated the first lines of some famous short stories.

Here’s more from the artist: “I selected the novels above, not as a list of the Greatest Novels of All Time, or as a list of My Favorite Novels of All Time, but because they were (mostly) books that I love whose covers I knew how to illustrate. Full confession: I have not read An American Tragedy, and I think that Theodore Dreiser is a boring writer. I just liked the title. And I started reading Moby-Dick (“Call me Ishmael”) and Gravity’s Rainbow (“A screaming comes across the sky”) but I did not finish reading them. Someday I will finish reading them. I read all the others.” (Via Rachel Fershleiser)

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John Green Reveals the Winner of the ‘An Abundance of Covers’ Contest

Author John Green revealed that seventeen-year-old Sarah Turbin had won his An Abundance of Covers contest. Readers were invited to submit their cover designs for the new paperback edition of Green’s 2006 Printz Honor title, An Abundance of Katherines.

Above, you can see Turbin’s simple design. Green said the cover “embraced the nerdiness of the book,” and he shared this piece of advice on book design: “I think it has to look good in print; it has to look good blown-up; it has to look good on a screen and it has to look good one-inch tall.”

During the BookExpo America event, Penguin Young Readers Group gave away 150 signed copies of the new paperback edition. Several fans also asked Turbin for her autograph.

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Paperback Boxed Set Design Revealed for 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Vintage and Anchor Books art director John Gall has revealed the design for the paperback edition of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

We’ve embedded a photograph above–what do you think?

The New York Times had more details: “Gall, the art director for Vintage, designed the paperbacks to be visible through a clear plastic box, fitting together to create one image. The list price is $29.95, and Vintage will initially print 50,000 copies.” (Image link via Sarah Weinman)

Free Customized ‘Go Away, I’m Reading’ Book Covers

Wish you could tune out the world while reading your favorite book? The free “Go Away, I’m Reading” book covers will send a blunt message, customized for your book.

Erin Bowman, Sarah Enni and Traci Neithercott created the simple but inspiring dust jackets pictured above–what cover will you pick?

They have built “Climbing Mount Doom” for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy,  “In Narnia BRB” for readers of C. S. LewisThe Chronicles of Narnia, “At Hogwarts” for aficionados of J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, “In Forks, Send Help” for fans of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight series and finally, “In the Arena, BRB” for readers of Suzanne CollinsHunger Games series.

Here’s more about printing: “These covers will fit the traditionally-sized YA book. Take the PDFs to your local FedEx or Staples and get them printed on tabloid paper (11x17in). We suggest a matte cardstock (you could print on something glossy, but sometimes that causes light glares at certain angles and you want people to be able to read that Go Away message without incident). Choose a weight between 60-80lb for the paper. Anything lighter and the page will be too thin, anything heavier and folding it around your book will be difficult.”

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Self-Published Marriage Proposal

Valentine’s Day is a time in which many couples get engaged. If you are looking for a creative way to pop the question, maybe you should consider making a book.

One romantic guy named Travis Hines self-published a book to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. The book told their personal story and he gave it to her as a gift out on a date.

He explains how he came up with the content for the book on the Blurb blog: “I spent a couple weeks digging up every picture we had taken while together over the past three years – rummaging through our cell phones, old computers, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I had over 500 pictures to work with and I managed to design a chronological, full-page photo book capturing many of the wonderful moments where we were together.”

Mountains Carved Out Of Books

Guy Laramee is an artist who carves sculptures out of books.

Among his works is an incredible sculpture of the Great Wall of China, called The Great Wall (pictured).

According to his artist’s statement, Laramee is inspired by the “erosion of cultures.”

He writes: “So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.”

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