A great book cover has to feel current while also pushing the envelope in subtle ways. So what new and exciting book cover design trends are awaiting us in 2018? Some styles, like bold typography and illustrated covers, have continued to grow in popularity, while new trends like collage and upscale finishes are also making adventurous moves. Here are the ingenious trends we see dominating bookshelves in stores and online in 2018.
8 book cover design trends to look for in 2018
- Bold typography
- Minimalist covers
- Hand-drawn covers
- Seventies and eighties designs
- Millennial Pink
- Authentic photography
- Upscale finishes
1. Bold typography isn’t going anywhere
Loud, attention-grabbing typography has been on-trend for the past few years and doesn’t show any signs of losing steam. These are covers where the majority of the available space is taken up by text. The capitalized fonts practically scream at you in a not-so-subtle way to draw attention entirely to the title—a statement choice in the world of books.
While famous authors like Jonathan Safran Foer have been known for their typographic covers for years, expect to see more covers from lesser-known writers embrace the big font trend in creative ways.
How is this bold trend evolving in 2018? Instead of clean typography, look for organic touches lifted from print, like the brushstroke letters of Exit West or the letterpress-inspired drips on the letters of White Tears. We’ll also see more covers that use bold print but obfuscate parts of the letters with pattern, like the decorative flame elements of A Separation that overlap the title’s letters.
2. Minimalist covers are quietly demanding attention
On the other end of the spectrum, a steadily increasing amount of designers are eschewing the busy and choosing to create quiet, purposefully minimalist covers instead. These are covers that aren’t bursting at the seams with letters and pattern, but focus on one central element and give it space to shine. Even a cover like the one for Fat balances the size and weight of the letters with an equally huge amount of white space, to create a reduced and focussed impression.
In a world that favors the busy, loud, and bright, there’s something to be said for the single graphic element of the eye on In the Eyes of Grace. Or the purposefully removed letters in Imagine Me Gone. These covers allow their graphics and titles plenty of room to breathe, which makes them all the more powerful. The minimalist covers we’ll see in 2018 know how to grab readers’ eyes by showing less.
3. Hand-drawn covers are breaking new ground
From novels and children’s books to mysteries, illustrated covers have been blowing up for the past few years. It appears the hand-lettered trend is another that hasn’t lost its luster. In 2018 we’ll see a movement away from the intensely girly, floral designs of the past, and an embracing of a wider range of styles—particularly with a cool and edgy, androgynous vibe. That’s why this trend will see a lot of pick up in books by and for men.
Covers like Lincoln in the Bardo and Tools of Titans show the more masculine side of hand-written fonts and hand-drawn elements. And for good reason: every cover is an individual work, and hand-drawn fonts and graphics provide a truly unique, customized look loved by those who appreciate a casual, DIY-focused style.
4. Seventies and eighties designs are simply rad
Right now the style of the seventies and eighties is all the rage. It conjures up memories of the past and incites nostalgia for a time when life seemed simpler. TV is overrun with shows set in the 1970s and 1980s (I’m looking at you, Stranger Things!), and book design reflects that as well. 2018 will surprise us with fonts, color choices and imagery that take us right back to the past.
Bombastic seventies fonts, like the ones seen on Sex and Rage and Goodbye Vitamin, look as normal on a contemporary bookshelf as on one from 1976. Neon lights (like Lovers and Neighbors) and vibrant colors show that our love for all things eighties is still going strong. From quirky and fun to dangerous and mysterious: this trend can transport a huge spectrum of feelings.
5. Millennial Pink is having a moment in the spotlight
Trends in book design tend to percolate over a couple seasons, until you can’t turn a corner in a bookstore without seeing it everywhere. This was never more evident than in the sudden invasion of so-called “millennial pink.”
Millennial pink is the accepted term for a genre of muted pinks in the dusty quartz/greyed rose family that have dominated Internet-savvy brands for the past eighteen months. While nearly unavoidable if you spend any time on the internet, millennial pink has started to dominate book covers, as well, particularly those geared to women.
Since these rosey tones are more mature than straight up pink, but more youthful than beige or grey, designers and authors alike have embraced them for their cheeky, pleasant attitude. To avoid an overly sweet and girly feel, the color is often balanced with simple imagery or rough handwritten fonts.
As we head deeper into 2018, warmer weather will bring even more of these pink-hued covers. Be sure to look for them on Instagram, next to a glass of rosé.
6. Collage puts it all together
Another trend that has been building for the past year and is ready to hit bookshelves with full force: collage-inspired covers. Whether created digitally or the old-school way with scissors and glue, collages are a clever and beautiful way to give print designs a more tactile feeling.
In addition to looking original and distinct, collage offers an incredible opportunity for expressing multiple ideas of a book at once. The cover for The Smallest Thing demonstrates this by combining two opposing ideas, nature and a gas mask.
And there is another reason why this trend is a versatile one: it can be applied to any style. In the world of book covers, this opens up a whole new universe of creative possibilities. From subtle, transparent layering to bold combinations of textures and shapes, anything is possible.
7. Authentic photography keeps it real
Photography has always been a valuable part of cover design. But for the longest time stock photography battled with a reputation for campy staged quality and over the top emotions (for proof, just search “Woman laughing with salad”).
Now, designers have rediscovered the possibilities of photography. Thanks to smartphone cameras, high-quality photography has become more accessible to more people. Consequently, stock photography was forced to evolve and offer images that are more authentic or “real”—shots that feel like they may have been taken by a smartphone or lifted off a stylish Instagram account.
And book cover design reaps the benefits: using authentic photography, designers are creating covers that convey raw emotions and allow readers a unique glimpse into a book. Nothing can transport atmosphere better than authentic photography, which makes this a trend that is bound to stick around.
8. Upscale finishes are catching the eye
Authors and designers in 2018 won’t be satisfied simply with graphics printed on paper. Even small press and self-published authors have access to finer quality printing presses and premium finishing elements. While foil stamping and embossing have long been used on title and author text, particularly on hardback jackets, these effects are now being integrated in cover design in clever ways.
The ingenuity of some of the designs is staggering. Don’t you want to pick up On Trails? Don’t you feel as if the trail is pulling your eye forward to follow its path? The great thing about these eye-catching finishes is that they allow minimalist designs to pop off the shelf as well as—if not better than—any large font or busy pattern.
These book design trends have you covered in 2018
A few years ago we were inundated with stories about failing bookshops and sagging print book sales due to the rise of e-readers. Presses big and small, as well as self-published authors, had to adapt to this changing marketplace. They came to understand that a book is truly worth buying if it pleases us on more than just one level. If we want to read it and also leave it on our coffee table to appreciate as an artful object. And this change in mindset had real-world consequences: five years later, bookstores are opening up across the country and books are more beautiful than they’ve ever been—and even better, they’re selling well too. All signs point to 2018 continuing this momentum with breathtaking book cover designs no book lover can resist.