Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Kerning -or- judging a book by it's cover

Kerning: n - the space between (characters) in a piece of text to be printed. if you want to know more.

Following up on my post of a few days ago, I thought I'd talk about book covers.

Absolutely I will judge a book by its cover! As I browse through Kobo Books looking for my next read, I will consider or dismiss based initially on covers.

Covers are one of the first things to catch a reader’s eye. Unless you’re a Name or your title is one I’m actively looking for, the cover is the first thing I see, and therefore the first thing by which I judge.

Whether or not they are to my taste, commercial publishing’s covers are consistently professional.

Indie covers, on the other hand, are hit and miss. If your cover looks professional, I’m more likely to view the whole book in the same light. But if your cover looks amateurish, that will taint my opinion of you.  (Do you really want that strike against you?)

The one thing that bothers me the most about amateurish covers is how the text is treated.  Bad kerning annoys me the most. Proportional spaced fonts do not have their place on a cover, unless it’s deliberately used for graphical effect.  

Your title, author name and other text should be treated like a graphic element, not like another textual line in SMF. It should look pretty and it should tie in with the rest of the graphic elements.  If you’ve got too much white space between your text, it looks ugly and unbalanced.

I hate it when people whack up text on a cover and, if it moves to another line, it's double-spaced. This isn't your essay paper. Make the text a graphical element.

Don’t do this: 
See how the letters are spaced out (kerning), yet the font is too small for the area?
Note all the space ('white space') about the text. In graphic design, this is not ideal.

 This looks much better:
The letters are more intimate, and there is balance between the elements.
Or better yet, integrate it with the design:
I knocked this up in Microsoft Paint in about fifteen minutes.
While there's still room for care and improvement, it's still a sight better than the other examples.
Question: What do you love or hate about book cover design?

Her Grace would have you know that this isn't the final cover for Her Endearing Young Charms. Cover reveal for that coming soon, and it looks very different from this one.


Celia Reaves said...

Your examples make the importance of kerning so clear! Thank you. I love how your better examples require each word to be a separate graphical element, partly overlapping each other's space. Beautiful.

John Frain said...

Awesome examples, Heidi. How do you do that? I wish I could do that just with my keyboard when I'm blogging, it'd be so much more creative and fun.