Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Covers for Business Books

"A look back at the best business books of 2009"

"Business Monday books columnist Richard Pachter offers his highly subjective list of favorites"

See Richard Pachter's complete article in the Miami Herald,

From Susan Kendrick

The end of the year is a great time to look back and see what books stand out as having the most impact in their markets. I ran across this best-of list by Richard Pachter this morning on the Miami Herald website. I'm passing along his picks because they offer insight into what makes good book covers for business books.

In other words, while Pachter focuses on the content and usefulness of these books, my interest (and my reason for passing them along to you) is in their packaging.

I started looking for these covers on Amazon, eager to see what they looked like. I got excited when I saw that these book covers do the three things every good cover should do. They each incorporate the following:

-- Clear, compelling book titles and subtitles
-- Book cover design that brings that title to life
-- The marriage of text and design that establishes a strong verbal and visual brand

Interestingly, these covers also help answer two questions a good client of ours, a first-time business book author, recently asked us. They are:

1. What colors work for business books?

Notice how four out the five books shown here are predominantly white. They have that clean, powerful, authoritative appeal of books like Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers, as well as his newest book, What the Dog Saw.

While it may seem easy enough to come up with such simple concepts, it isn't. There are far too many business books still coming out that are cluttered and dated looking--these are the "teal green carpet" of the book cover world. in fact, I ran across an interesting article on this phenomenon called Why Are Business Book Covers so Ugly? This article is worth reading for a look at the book covers and for the comments from readers that offer some interesting input as to why.

2. What sells more business books--a text-only or more illustrative cover?

See how the books shown here are largely text-driven, with the exception of Bailout Nation as well as the iconic Twitter book, where it makes sense to incorporate the ubiquitous visual brand.

The rest of the graphics on these books are relatively simple. No cliche landscapes, horizons, mazes, soaring eagles, or any combination of these (yes, this still happens). Any graphics take a single-shot approach--there is a singular visual message that directly supports the title and the concept of the book.

Of course, this doesn't mean that all business books should be white or predominately text-driven. The particular book title and book cover design for every book should be carefully determined based on a number of factors, including: the target market for the book, what appeals to that audience, if the book needs to stand out in a crowded market or create and dominate a new niche right from the start, how well the brand (if any) is already known, how and where the book will be marketed, etc.

Even while there is no "right" answer for what kind of book cover works best, one look at these covers reveals some definite trends, and from major publishing houses like Wiley and Random House.

Each of these books also demonstrates that the best book covers have billboard appeal. They are bold, professional, and they make a strong, singular statement--in both book cover writing and design. They are good examples for any author of how great business book brands are born.

Questions about the how to create the writing or design concepts for your book and brand? Email us at or call 1-888-634-4120.

Susan Kendrick, Write To Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1-888-634-4120.


Alexis Ahrens said...

Great article! I'd love to see you do a series of these on different genres. How about doing the next series on parenting books?


Alan Stransman said...

I had my book designed before I had become aware of Susan's service. However, I hope to have a second book completed within the next few weeks.

I would welcome any comments regarding the design of my book "Don't Let Your Dream Business Turn Into a Nightmare", at, and invite readers to download the free first chapter and comment on that as well.

Alan Stransman
"Don't Let Your Dream Business Turn Into a Nightmare"

Write To Your Market, Inc. said...

Alexis, thanks so much for your comment. Yes, books are a consumer product. So, like every other kind of packaging and rebranding continually going on in retail markets--for everything from shampoo to cereal to banks--you want the packaging for you, your business, your book, etc. to be fresh and relevant. And, yes, parenting books are a great place to start. I'll get on that.

Write To Your Market, Inc. said...

Alan, glad to hear you found us in time for your next book. Please email or call us to set up a time to talk. With so many people making the shift from unpredictable or outgrown employment to entrepreneurship, you book sounds like a much-needed voice. I'm curious to hear about your various target markets for this book.

I did look at your book link and do have definite feedback about your cover copy and design. Again, email or call 1-888-634-4120 for details and to talk about your first chapter idea.