Everything You Need to Know About Designing a Hardcover Book

Hardcover books on a shelf with their front cover facing out

Last updated on June 21st, 2024 at 12:54 pm

There are a lot of factors that go into designing a book. You have to consider things such as the cover design, typography, page layout, and much more. All these things together create a beautiful final product, but getting there can be a challenge. Here is everything you need to know about designing a hardcover book.

white hardcover book in front white background

Never judge a book by its cover

You know the saying. Everyone knows the saying. While it’s a common phrase, as visual creatures, people do in fact judge books by their covers. The book cover is one of the most exciting aspects of a hardcover book to design, and you will want to ensure you take great care in this process. Here are some things to consider while designing your cover.

Does it match the overall book?

The most important thing about your book cover is that it has to match the overall vibe and tone of the book. Regardless of the style, you don’t want someone to pick the book up thinking it is about one thing and it is not. There is no quicker way to lose someone’s attention than by being misleading. What might work well for a historical fiction book will certainly not work well for a romance novel and vice versa.

Try different design styles

Once you have nailed down the style of your cover, it’s time to start putting it all together. Whether you are going for serious, colorful, subdued, or what have you, it does not hurt to create multiple mock-ups. Experiment with the placement of your title and name or try out different images. You can find plenty of images on stock sites such as Unsplash or Shutterstock, just make sure you confirm usage rights before printing a run of books with an image you do not have the rights to use.

Consult a professional book cover designer

It’s no secret that designing a book cover is a complicated endeavor. If you don’t feel comfortable designing the cover yourself, you can always consult a professional. There is no shortage of freelance designers out there. Start browsing through portfolios to find a style that speaks to you and reach out to that designer. They can also help you with the back cover, which is equally as important as this is where your reader really finds out what the book is about. An experienced book cover designer will be able to help you include important details such as reviews raving about your book and a synopsis that will entice anyone that reads it to buy it.

Do you not know what to look for in designers? Do you not have the time to look through the large pool of freelance designers? Work with Printivity’s trusted graphic designers! They can assist with properly formatting your files for print, design your covers from scratch, and whatever else you may need. Not only will we complete your designs, but a team member will guide you through the ordering process to help you choose the best options for your order.

harcover book open with flowers ontop

Tips for designing your hardcover book

While the cover of a book is complex in its own right. You want to make sure you get it right so you attract your target audience, the inside is just as important. Now that you drew your audience in, you want to make sure they stick around. Here is where we get into the nitty gritty details of page size, font size, graphics, typesetting, and more. The most important thing to keep in mind when designing a book is readability. If your book cannot be read, it will not be bought.

To serif or not serif

There is the ongoing debate regarding serif and sans serif fonts and legibility, which, of course, matters especially when it comes to book design. A reader might not pay much attention unless the font is difficult to read. Many serif fonts are easy to read, but some are so intricate they may start to distract the reader from what they are reading. That is what you want to avoid. Now, we are not saying you cannot use serif fonts, you just want to be mindful of how fancy they are and stick with one that is not distracting. Most books actually do use serif fonts, such as Times New Roman or Baskerville.  

Design with a proper trim size

When we say trim size, we are referring to your book’s size. Industry-standard sizes for hardcover books are 8.5×11, 7×10, 5.5×8.5, and 6×9. Make sure that when you are creating your design, you are doing it in the proper size. You would not want to finish it all only to have to resize it after to fit the trim. Printivity offers templates that will help you properly design for print.

Design the book cover with a proper trim size

To assemble a hardcover book cover, the cover design is printed on a standard sheet of paper then attached to the chipboard. As seen in the image below, the printed cover design will need to fold over the chipboard for assembly. Printivity requires that the cover design needs to be extended an additional 0.75″ on top/bottom/outside sides. This will guarantee that the design will seamlessly extend to the edge of the book cover.

When designing the cover, you are encouraged to submit your own spine. However, Printiivity recognizes that you may not know the exact spine width since there are factors, such as page counts and paper type, that can affect the width. If you submit a spine design, our team will reformat the file so that it is the correct dimension. If you would like to make the adjustments on your own, please contact our team for one-on-one assistance.

Submitting a spine design is not always necessary. Our team is able to wrap your cover background design to the spine. If your spine is thick enough, you can let us know what text you would like included as well.

The last element mentioned in the image above are hinges. Hardcover books have creases before the spine so that the covers can easily fold open. Printivity recommends keeping any important text or images 0.625″ from the hinge side of the design.

Pages to include

Aside from the actual contents of your book, you will want to make sure you include pages for information such as copyright, title page, table of contents, a dedication page, appendix, etc. While you do not have to include all of these pages, if you plan to you will want to include that in your design.

Printing with Printivity

Printivity makes it easy to get your project printed the way you envision it. Whether you have questions about the design process, printing process or are simply ready to get your order started, we are here every step of the way. Contact a Printivity expert today at 1-877-649-5463.


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