What is in a Cover

Huber Fichte Cover

a recognizable design concept for hubert fichte’s lyrical works published by fischer verlag

Covers are an essential part of selling content in bookstores. It can even become and art in itself. Covers to identify with. Covers to recognize (50 shades of grey in airports). Covers as limited editions, covers for design awards, covers to mark series (Hubert Fichte). Signature covers of publishing houses (Merve). Very often the covers of the same book vary in different countries (Ghana must go, Taiye Selasi).

Let’s look at the music. The square cases for LPs are canvases for designers to communicate, visualize, and generate appetite for what was in it. Not that vinyl ever left the market, recently they’re back to selling as significant object to display, even to those who abandoned the respective playing device. If you buy the vinyl you’ll receive a code to download the mp3s for your digital devices.

Let’s stay with the music. Let’s stay with the square. Even in the digital realm, the image remains and so does the shape. You can find the square in various sizes across platforms: Soundcloud, iTunes, bandcamp.com, etc. And because in many cases the square is very small, the design has to adapt to the scale and still look enticing.

Covers disappear in some academic journals all together. And the same can be true if you download the pdf file of a book. If you use Calibre as your home library software you can retrieve the former cover (usually various versions to choose from) to complete your ‘book’.

What is a book without its cover? And how does the file do with just a few letters behind the dot (.doc, .pdf, .jpg, etc.)? Do we need visual representation and distinction? In recent digital transformations, I saw the cover turn into an opening page or a trailer.

Consider visual representation
Consider images, icons, logos
Consider signature shapes
Consider size


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