Book Cover Design: Return of the Hardback

hardback design book cover design

With recent reports that people are beginning to fall out of love with e-readers, and returning, at least for some of their publishing purchases, to the hard copy, it seems that print book design might be enjoying a resurgence. Nonetheless e-books are still enjoying widespread popularity, which puts pressure on publishers to produce hard copy designs which feel more indulgent and better value for money.

Here at InDesignSkills we’ve noticed an influx of beautifully designed hardbacks, which use tactile textures and sensual, nostalgic designs to lure the bookshop-browser. Here’s our pick of the very best recent designs.


1. Reprinted Covers for Tolkien’s Fantasy Epics


These beautifully printed covers have a distinctive 1940s feel, making J. R. R. Tolkien’s works seem particularly nostalgic.  The cloth-bound texture of the hardbacks lends a tactile, homely feel, and also sits well with the fairytale-like genre of the novels. These certainly wouldn’t look out of place in Bilbo Baggin’s cottage in the Shire.

Publisher: HarperCollins; Books can be bought directly from the Official Tolkien Bookshop tolkien limited edition anniversary cover design lord of the rings the hobbittolkien limited edition anniversary cover design lord of the rings the hobbittolkien limited edition anniversary cover design lord of the rings the hobbittolkien limited edition anniversary cover design lord of the rings the hobbit


 2. The Bone Clocks


David Mitchell’s latest novel is a sweeping epic spanning six different stories, beginning in 1980s England and finishing in a post-apocalyptic Ireland. The cover design for the UK market needed to encapsulate the time-travelling, disparate mood of the book, and Mitchell’s publisher, Sceptre, has achieved just that with this explosive, surrealist design. The trail of water rushing across the centre of the design is pulled out in a gloss finish, which adds a tactile element to the cover. bone clocks david mitchell cover designbone clocks david mitchell cover designbone clocks david mitchell cover design The US cover, by designer Linnet Mattey, is more restrained, but makes full use of the weight and cloth-bound format of the hardback. Gold foil blocking adds an elegant, indulgent touch.

Publishers: Sceptre; Random House bone clocks david mitchell cover design


 3. Fitzgerald’s Flapper Glamour


Breathing new life into classic graphic styles are Coralie Bickford-Smith‘s redesigned hardbacks for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920s-set classic novels. Metallic foiling and simple, graphic patterns which instantly conjure up the decadent Art Deco designs of the Jazz Age create books that could give Daisy Buchanan a run for her money in the glamour department.

Publisher: Penguin Classics; Designer: Coralie Bickford-Smith fitzgerald penguin classics coralie bickford-smith cover designfitzgerald penguin classics coralie bickford-smith cover designfitzgerald penguin classics coralie bickford-smith cover designfitzgerald penguin classics coralie bickford-smith cover design


 4. The Quick


Timely, given Halloween is just around the corner, is our praise for the gothic-inspired design for Lauren Owen’s vampire novel, The Quick, published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. With illustrations from brit illustrator Jim Kay, the dust jacket has a beautiful dusty matte finish, with accents in red pulled out in bright, graphic gloss. Inside the hard cover, stamped with a glossy masonic black owl, a wallpapered pattern transports the reader to a Victorian Yorkshire manor house, the setting of the first chapter.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; Illustration: Jim Kay the quick lauren owen jonathan cape book cover design jim kaythe quick lauren owen jonathan cape book cover design jim kaythe quick lauren owen jonathan cape book cover design jim kay


 5. Grace: A Memoir


Nostalgic cover designs are very popular, and they work particularly well on hardcovers, which have a traditional, old-school feel. Suitable then, that Grace Coddington‘s memoir, taking us back to her childhood in Anglesey in the 1960s before her induction into British, and then American, Vogue, should have a retro-inspired cover, complete with hand-drawn typography and a 1960s-inspired colour palette. Inside the hard cover, beautiful sketches made by Grace herself, depicting fashion personalities sitting front row, really give this book an extra personal touch.

Publisher: Chatto & Windus grace a memoir grace coddington cover designgrace a memoir grace coddington cover designgrace a memoir grace coddington cover design


 6. The Luminaries


Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize last year, is certainly a lengthy read. Though now released in paperback format as well, it’s the hardback version that really accommodates the lengthy text best and allows the cover design to shine. The wistful, vintage-inspired, feminine design creates a sense of mystery and concealment, key themes in the book. The cover was designed by Australian graphic designer Jenny Grigg. Old etchings of the colonial township described in the book also decorate the inside of the hard cover.

Publisher: Granta; Designer: Jenny Grigg luminaries eleanor catton book cover design granta jenny grigg luminaries eleanor catton book cover design granta jenny grigg luminaries eleanor catton book cover design granta jenny grigg