A blog about writing and self publishing

Judging Book Covers

We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but cover art is the first thing that a reader sees of a book, and is fundamental for marketing and attracting the right readers. So perhaps we can’t judge a book by its cover, but we should certainly judge the book covers themselves on their own merits and whether or not they do the job they’re meant to do.

Jeroen Ten Berge is a talented New Zealand graphic designer who works in book covers, illustrations, and brand design.  We asked him for a few of his top picks for great book cover design, and here are the results:

the twelve

The Twelve: Appropriately dark and brooding. Simple, but very effective.

medal of honor

Medal Of Honor: This mean mother f*****, and a medal of honor? Gotta read it. Dirty, gritty and bold.

the retribution

The Retribution: Colorful and ominous. Typography could have been stronger, bolder. The blurb is even hard to read when seen at a larger size.


Pet Sematary: One of a series in this style, this one appeals most. Again, simple, but very effective.

girl with dragon tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Intriguing image, distinct use of color.


The Road: One of a series, this one the best. Nice incorporation of a blurb. If the blurb had been a little bit darker the author and title would have stood out more. Still, Chip Kidd’s cover is better. Favourite book of mine.


Dark Places: Bold, great use of the image and color. Supported by solid typography nicely integrated with the image. Fantastic book.


Telegraph Avenue: Very smart way to immediately tell the reader what this book is about – great cover.


What’s Left of Me: Love the restraint and starkness, the use of color. The typography is a bit scattered for my taste, but overall an excellent cover.


Twilight: Love it, and hate it. The image is fantastic and has become iconic, the typography I fancy less, could be bolder without competing with the image. The author’s name is hardly readable.

divided states

The Divided States of America: Bold in color, lay out and typography – the design reflecting the divide between the two ruling parties in the US.


PYGMY: Bold colors, matched by bold typography. Love the repetition.


Micro: The clever illustration sucks you in. That, combined with the limited color palette and bold typography make this a great cover.

Visit Jeroen Ten Berge’s website: jeroentenberge.com/

Find these book covers and more of Joroen’s picks on Kobo!

11 Responses to “Judging Book Covers”

  1. Pam

    It appears as if edited photographs are the way to go. I was going to have my daughter draw my cover, I’m composing a household book composed of recipes, crafts etc.

    • Sion Smithh

      I think that’s a good idea Pam – but there’s a world of difference between just sticking the illustration on the cover and having it properly designed around the illustration itself.

  2. Edward Andrews

    When you enter a search on any bookstore, numerous books come up per page. For example if I were to do a search on Bible Difficulties, New Testament Textual Criticism, or Introduction to the New Testament, I would get dozens of books all lined up, asking to be chosen. It is the book cover that will get the prospective reader first, followed by any introduction information, and then the price. Once they click on you, it is the comments that will carry the sale of the day. An image needs to convey what your books is about in a word, leaping off of the page, saying, “I am the one”!

    • kobowritinglife

      LOL – of course, I’m sure we all show a little bias towards our own covers – how could we not?

      (Here’s a link to Queen’s book on Kobo)

      Queen – what do you think makes your cover an eye grabber? How was your experience in working with the designer? Was it a difficult process to arrive at the cover you decided to go with? Would love to hear your perspective.

      • QueenEFPhillips (@QueenEFPhillips)

        I think the rainbow is the eye grabber…the colors, the symbolism that depicts a sign of hope. It was easy working with the designer because I already had an image in my head of what I wanted on the cover, which speaks to the message I wanted to convey in the book. That message is, even from the painful experiences of one’s past you can look forward to a promising future if you can envision reaching your dreams in hopeful expectation. I’m not naïve to think everyone will agree with my perspective, but I do believe I share the inspiration of many who are anticipating something better in their future than what they have experienced in their past.
        Thanks for asking.

  3. Sion Smith

    Yep – those are just the sort of books I would search for to get some great examples of book cover design 🙂


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