Ciao, SEers. It’s my turn for Book Cover Friday, and I’m presenting a series. (Well, a series in progress, as so far there are only two books, but I suspect there will be more.)
I’ve chosen the Ian Hamilton Mysteries series by Carole Lawrence.
First, let me draw your attention to the title font. It’s essentially sans serif, which is a popular choice these days. Sans serif is easy to read in big letters because it’s clear and unfrivolous. I say “essentially” because of the top left corner of the N and the bottom right corner of the G, where there are tiny hints of serifs. Those hints, combined with the subtle points in the curved letters and the exaggerated point in the crossbar of the H, make this font more visually interesting than the average sans serif font. The title is further enhanced by the embossed style, drop shadow, and metallic finish.
Second, let’s consider the author’s name. It has the same metallic finish as the title, but no embossing and no drop shadow. It’s also slightly smaller than the title, yet still very pronounced. This makes it easy for the reader to view items in the desired order—title then author. And if you shop by author rather than title, these books will still stand out.
Third, consider the series name. It is above the title and easy to see, yet it’s not obtrusive. It is one of the many details that brands the novels as part of a set. I’m not happy that there’s no sequential ordering here (book 1, book 2, etc.) but Amazon and other distributors make it clear in the title/description of the book which number in the set each novel is, so I can let that slide.
Fourth, let’s consider the borders and ornamentation. They are intricately detailed and lend an air of history to the covers. These clearly aren’t contemporary stories. The run of dots almost gives the title a marquee effect. Note also that the author’s name is flanked by a dot on each side, giving that section added weight as well as tying the bold graphic design of the title to a more subtle version in her name. Other complementary details include the graphics in the four corners. They have metallic finishes and embossed styles that mimic the books’ titles. They serve the added purpose of bringing details of the book to the forefront of the cover. (At least, the first one does. I’ve not read the second yet, so I can’t be certain the graphics are related, although it would only make sense if they were.)
Fifth, the image itself. I know that’s where most people focus on book covers. I’m one of the few people in the world who doesn’t let covers sway my decision to whether to buy or not, so I tend not to give the graphics much weight. But that is my job today, so let’s consider them. Studies in the industry say people on covers sell better. I don’t usually like that (again, I’m in the minority), especially when the people’s faces are visible. I prefer to picture the people based on book descriptions. In this case, the people don’t bother me. They help set the scene without being distracting. And I can’t see facial features, so I won’t be disappointed if the book description and my imagination don’t match the cover models. Also, the man’s top hat and tight grip on his coat as well as the woman’s hooded cloak lend an air of mystery to the images. The cityscapes behind them also create a dark atmosphere. (The bird in the first one is super creepy.) I’m especially fond of the monochromatic tones and the fade-to-black vignette borders, both of which impart a sense of the historical as well as the mysterious.
Last, the covers (when observed all at once rather than piece by piece) effectively prioritize what’s important while establishing setting and mood. Graphically, they’re dark, gritty, and ominous. With respect to font, they’re interesting, eye-catching, and elegant. Overall, the elements combine synergistically to create period-appropriate covers that evoke the proper sense of foreboding while compelling a reader to take a closer look. In other words, I find them quite successful.
I’d love to know what you think. What do these covers say to you? Let’s talk about it.