Judging a book by its cover

I am asked to choose a book by  an author I am familiar with. I will have to design 2 covers for this book, one using illustrations or photography and the other using just type. I will design the cover, spine and back page. I am supposed to keep in mind that my design will need to help the reader know what the experience of reading the book will be. The author I decided to choose is Jacek Palkiewicz, he is a Polish journalist, traveler and explorer. He wrote over 30 books on his expeditions. Among his many achievements are discovering the sources of the Amazon River and crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone in a lifeboat in 44 days. I have a few books by this author. I like his style of writing, it is very ‘as a matter of fact’, there is no glorifying of his achievements, it is just a very interesting read about exploring inaccessible corners of the world.

The book I will choose for this exercise is called ‘Life’s passion’ by Jacek Palkiewicz. The book contains a set of the author’s most important trips that were presented in a number of different books. Here, those most memorable moments are gathered together and published in one book. The readership of this book is very broad, it could attract men and women, people of different ages, it can be read by a teenager as  much as by an elderly person. It is written for people who appreciate and enjoy travelling, learning about new places. It could attract people from different walks of life as it is written in a very approachable way. I want for the cover to give the reader an idea of what is inside the book. It has to present something that people associate with travelling, discovering and exploring. I started with sketching in my sketchbook.

20150126_101002 The first idea that came to my mind was hiking boots and prints that boots would leave on the ground. Then I sketched compasses, binoculars and wrote keywords for this project. In the end I decided to use photographs for the first cover. I included photos of foliage, water, sand and rocks to represent the variety of places that the author writes about in this book. It took me a while to get the layout right.

cover2 cover5 cover6 cover7 cover8

The colours in the original photos were quite harsh, so changed the transparency to calm them down. I used the Century Gothic font for the final cover. The book’s title is written in uppercase on the cover, the author’s name is slightly smaller and placed in the bottom part. The spine contains a similar arrangement. The back contains a photo of the author and his brief bio.


Book cover 1


I decided to design a second cover for the book using photographs as I thought that the author might think that the first cover is a bit too peaceful and calm and it does not show the excitement associated with travelling/exploring and instead it looks a bit like a set of postcards. So the second version will be a bit bolder.

I will keep the background white for the second cover to help create a contrast with photos of traveller’s gear that will be placed on the cover. I used photos of ski, a torch, climbing rope and an oar. I placed 2 items under the title and 2 around the author’s name to balance the elements on the cover. The font I used for the cover, spine and back is BBAlpha Serif.


Book cover 2


The last cover is supposed to be made using just type. I had a look at the sketch of ideas for this exercise and I thought that a print of a hiking boot would be appropriate for this. The little individual elements of the print could be made out of letters.

footprint cover1

After thinking it through I decided to use the hiking boot idea, but use the whole outline of the boot instead of a print. I used a photo of a hiking boot and based experimenting with type on its outline. I tried to incorporate the title of the book and the author’s name into it.

20150217_211951  try1to4  try5  try6

After a few tries I thought that the text fitted quite well, I think it is readable. The book title is written in a larger font comparing to the author’s name as the title should be the main focus of the cover and it also helps to prevent the two from merging together. The bottom line that is the author’s name has the bottom parts of the letters coloured black to make it look like a black rubber sole, I also added a few lace holes to make the design easier to identify. Some of the letters are wobbly, uneven, some have ragged edges, I hope that makes the boot look worn, as if it was used in many of the author’s expeditions.


Book cover 3


I am content with the overall design. The hiking boot idea represents the topics that the book is about, it is something that the author had with him on all his travels. I am hoping that this creation resembles clearly a hiking boot, otherwise the cover might be a bit confusing. I think this cover works best out of the three. I find the first cover a bit of a miss, it is too ‘pretty’ and mushy. The other 2 covers are bolder in their design, therefore they work better and give clearer message on what the book is about.


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