146

Can anyone share his or her experience on designing a book cover? I just finished writing my e-book and now I am designing the cover. I tried \maketitle and the result was pretty ugly. I'd appreciate any tips on designing book covers.

4
  • 27
    Book covers are often designed using desktop publishing software and only added during production. The PDF of the actual book only contains some minimal cover page which is still present in the final bounded book. For online published PDF-books you could also include such a cover page using pdfpages. Commented May 6, 2011 at 13:56
  • 6
    The Book Design Review has great examples for book covers. While these books could have been typeset with LaTeX their covers probably aren't but were designed independently and added later like Martin Scharrer said. Commented May 7, 2011 at 7:04
  • 3
    I agree with Martin on this one. It's easier to design the book cover in a program like Adobe InDesign. It's really easy and intuitive program, I've been using it for several years and the results are great :)
    – dingo_d
    Commented May 7, 2011 at 10:51
  • zwpagelayout.sty is one of a fine package for creating Covers and Spine pages in LaTeX
    – MadyYuvi
    Commented Jan 22 at 13:57

13 Answers 13

111

Here is a poor man's solution! Cover and title pages should ideally be designed by a graphics artist, as most of us are really challenged in this area! (If you have not watched this brilliant TED Talk by Book Cover Designer Chip Kidd, I advise you to watch it as you can gain a lot of insight into book cover design).

enter image description here

The code follows:

\documentclass{book}
\usepackage{graphicx}
%\usepackage{fancyvrb}
\begin{document}
\clearpage
%% temporary titles
% command to provide stretchy vertical space in proportion
\newcommand\nbvspace[1][3]{\vspace*{\stretch{#1}}}
% allow some slack to avoid under/overfull boxes
\newcommand\nbstretchyspace{\spaceskip0.5em plus 0.25em minus 0.25em}
% To improve spacing on titlepages
\newcommand{\nbtitlestretch}{\spaceskip0.6em}
\pagestyle{empty}
\begin{center}
\bfseries
\nbvspace[1]
\Huge
{\nbtitlestretch\huge
AWK ONE LINERS EXPLAINED}

\nbvspace[1]
\normalsize

TO WHICH IS ADDED MANY USEFUL ONE\\
LINERS AND CODE SO THAT\\
YOU CAN AWK LIKE A HAWK
\nbvspace[1]
\small BY\\
\Large LUCAS VAUGHN\\[0.5em]
\footnotesize AUTHOR OF ``A WORKING ALGEBRA,'' ``WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY,\\
ITS HISTORY, THEORY AND PRACTICE,'' ETC., ETC.

\nbvspace[2]

\includegraphics[width=1.5in]{./graphics/pic37}
\nbvspace[3]
\normalsize

SINGAPORE\\
\large
PUBLISHED IN THE WILD
\nbvspace[1]
\end{center}
\end{document}
4
  • @Harrold It is from an old Roman History book and which I can't now locate (I even tried tineye.com).
    – yannisl
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 18:13
  • 1
    I'm gonna use this from now onwards. Thanks @Yiannis Lazarides! Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 2:46
  • This seriously messes up with pages numbering (only pages that are not first page of a section) and header of pages. Is there a way to circumvent this ?
    – Olórin
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 15:30
  • @DELETEDPROFILE sure
    – yannisl
    Commented Feb 26 at 2:15
81
+250

Create an own document (1 or 4 pages) for your cover and then merge it with the other document with the package pdfpages. Examples of book covers.

enter image description here

For more detailed workaround, see Creating Book Covers using PSTricks. You will be guided how to create a book cover as shown above.

For my own cover I use a template:

enter image description here

On this I put all text frames and additional images with \rput from PSTricks or \put from standard LaTeX.

2
  • 1
    Really nice @Herbert, though I have a question. It seems your examples are front and back of the book. If so, how do you take care of the page counts? What I mean, is that if a book 500 pages, area between front and back should be wider when there are only 50 pages. Is there any mechanism to take care of that or your example are focusing mostly on the designing process?
    – Pouya
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 5:56
  • 1
    you have to ask the printer which paper will be used. Then you know the thickness of the paper and can multiply it with 0.5 pages. In general the printer has more experience and can tell you what width will be needed.
    – user2478
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 6:55
52

You can use xcoffins package from LaTeX 3 project. This example is inspired by work of Jan Tschichold

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[a4paper,margin=5pt]{geometry}

\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{times,multicol,graphicx}
\usepackage{xcoffins}
\usepackage{times,color}
\newcommand\cbox[2][.8]{{\setlength\fboxsep{0pt}\colorbox[gray]{#1}{#2}}}
\pagestyle{empty}
\begin{document}
  \NewCoffin \result
  \NewCoffin \aaa
  \NewCoffin \bbb
  \NewCoffin \ccc
  \NewCoffin \ddd
  \NewCoffin \eee
  \NewCoffin \fff
  \NewCoffin \rulei
  \NewCoffin \ruleii
  \NewCoffin \ruleiii

\SetHorizontalCoffin \result {}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \aaa {\fontsize{52}{50}\sffamily\bfseries mitteilungen}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \bbb {\fontsize{52}{50}\sffamily\bfseries typographische}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \ccc {\fontsize{12}{10}\sffamily 
                      \quad zeitschrift des bildungsverbandes der
                      deutschen buchdrucker leipzig 
                     \textbullet{} oktoberheft 1925}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \ddd {\fontsize{28}{20}\sffamily sonderheft}
\SetVerticalCoffin \eee {180pt}
                 {\raggedleft\fontsize{31}{36}\sffamily\bfseries 
                      elementare\\
                      typographie}
\SetVerticalCoffin \fff {140pt}
                 {\raggedright \fontsize{13}{14}\sffamily\bfseries 
                       natan altman \\
                       otto baumberger \\
                       herbert mayer \\
                       max burchartz \\
                       el lissitzky \\
                       ladislaus moholy-nagy \\
                       moln\'ar f.~farkas \\
                       johannes molzahn \\
                       kurt schwitters \\
                       mart stam \\
                       ivan tschichold}

\RotateCoffin \bbb {90}
\RotateCoffin \ccc {270}

\SetHorizontalCoffin \rulei  {\color{red}\rule{6.5in}{1pc}}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \ruleii {\color{red}\rule{1pc}{23.5cm}}
\SetHorizontalCoffin \ruleiii{\color{black}\rule{10pt}{152pt}}


\JoinCoffins \result                \aaa 
\JoinCoffins \result[\aaa-t,\aaa-r] \rulei   [b,r](0pt,2mm)
\JoinCoffins \result[\aaa-b,\aaa-l] \bbb     [B,r](2pt,0pt)
\JoinCoffins \result[\bbb-t,\bbb-r] \ruleii  [t,r](-2mm,0pt)
\JoinCoffins \result[\aaa-B,\aaa-r] \ccc     [B,l](66pt,14pc)
\JoinCoffins \result[\bbb-l,\ccc-B] \fff     [t,r](-2mm,0pt)
\JoinCoffins \result[\fff-b,\fff-r] \ruleiii [b,l](2mm,0pt)
\JoinCoffins \result[\ccc-r,\fff-l] \eee     [B,r]
\JoinCoffins \result[\eee-T,\eee-r] \ddd     [B,r](0pt,4pc)
\TypesetCoffin \result
\end{document}

enter image description here

5
  • 3
    Note that the interface to xcoffins is not yet stable: we have to decide on some key detail yet! (It is 'experimental', after all, although the core concept is sorted.)
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 14:06
  • Ahh good to know. I have seen example with keyval syntax, but the old one seems to me more intuitive and simpler for use
    – michal.h21
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 14:23
  • @michal.h221: The problem (for me) with the syntax as you've used is it remains stuck with the 'remember the placement of optional argument' issues that have arisen in the past with LaTeX2e. Now, it may be that in some cases this is best: one for the LaTeX-L list, I think.
    – Joseph Wright
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 14:32
  • @michal.h21 Fantastic example! With a current LaTeX this produces an extra blank page before the title page. Is this intended or possibly the result of changes in the kernel or xcoffins in the last 12 years?
    – mbert
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 2:10
  • 1
    @mbert it is possibly because of some changes, 12 years is a long time. I think the culprit is the margin set in Geometry. When I change it to 0mm, only one page is produced.
    – michal.h21
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 8:57
29

There is a relatively new package on CTAN, called bookcover. It seems to be quite straightforward to use and includes two examples.

3
28

Book covers, and title pages, should be individually designed --- the \maketitle macro is not of much help. On CTAN there is a document of mine showing a range of title page designs that could be adapted for book covers: Some Examples of Title Pages. If you have TeX Live then

texdoc titlepages

should bring it up as well.

Here is, hopefully, an example cover of mine. I have used as the background a photo I took of an old manuscript (cover2.jpg) and overlaid the title information on top. The cover (and book) will be trimmed to eliminate the margin white spaces.

\documentclass{10pt,letterpaper,twoside,showtrims]{memoir}
\usepackage{graphicx}
\begin{document}
\raggedbottom
\frontmatter
\pagestyle{empty}
%% front cover The Decretales of Pope Gregory IX 1505 recto
\begin{picture}(0,0)%
   \put{-105,-675){\includegraphics[height=10.4in,width=8.5in,keepaspectratio]%
                  {cover2}}
\end{picture}
\vspace*{1.5\onelineskip}
\begin{center} \LARGE\textbf{A Few}\par
\end{center}
\begin{center}
\HUGE\textbf{Notes}
\end{center}
\begin{center}
\LARGE\textbf{on}\par
\end{center}
\begin{center}
\HUGE\textbf{Book Design}
\end{center}
\vspace*{0.6\textheight}
\begin{center}
\Huge\textbf{Peter Wilson}
\end{center}
\end{document}

I have a PDF of the above and thanks to Yiannis I now know how to include it in this answer.

This should be an image of the front cover

1
  • Thanks for the answer, if you include links we will help out with formatting. For images is best to capture them and use the little picture in the editor to upload.
    – yannisl
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 20:15
26

For graphic layout tasks such as this, I reach for a full-page pspicture:

\documentclass[letterpaper]{article}
\usepackage[centering,width=8.5in,height=11in]{geometry}
\usepackage{pstricks}
\pagestyle{empty}
\begin{document}

\psset{unit=1in}
\begin{pspicture}(8.5,11)% use your page size
  \rput[b](3.5,8){\parbox{5in}{\begin{flushright}
    \Huge\bfseries\sffamily Awk one-liners\\ Explained
    \end{flushright}}}
  \uput[-90](3.5,8){\color{red}\rule{5in}{1ex}}
  % ...
\end{pspicture}

\end{document}

minimal sample

1
  • 1
    Nice solution.
    – yannisl
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 15:36
23

You can of course redefine the \maketitle macro to acquiesce to your design wishes.

But as Martin has mentioned in a comment, the cover title is actually a later addition to a book. \maketitle is not the way to do this.

The KOMA documentation says the following:

A cover is actually something that should be created in a separate document. The cover often has a very individual format. It can also be designed with the help of a graphics or DTP program. A separate document should also be used because the cover will be printed on a different medium, possibly cardboard, and possibly with another printer.

\maketitle’s job is to create the title page(s) inside a book, not the cover.

17

The current page node of TikZ is very helpful:

Code

\documentclass[parskip]{scrbook}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{calc,shadows}
\usepackage{lipsum}
\usepackage{lmodern}

\begin{document}
\thispagestyle{empty}
\begin{tikzpicture}
[   overlay,
    remember picture,
    mynode/.style={left,fill=yellow!10,general shadow={shadow scale=1, shadow xshift=-0.8ex, shadow yshift=-0.8ex,
opacity=1, fill=gray!50}},
]
    \fill[red!30!gray] (current page.south west) rectangle (current page.north east);
    \node[mynode] at ($(current page.north east)+(-0.2,-6)$) {\fontsize{25}{30}\selectfont \textbf{100 Tasty Cooking Recipes}};
    \node[mynode] at ($(current page.north east)+(-0.5,-8)$) {\fontsize{20}{24}\selectfont \textsc{Charlie Chaplin}};
    \node[mynode] at ($(current page.north east)+(-0.8,-10)$) {\fontsize{15}{18}\selectfont Samizdat, 2012};
    \node[above right] at ($(current page.south west)+(5,5)$) {\includegraphics[scale=0.5]{awk}};
    
\end{tikzpicture}
\clearpage
\lipsum[1-20]
\end{document}

Result

enter image description here

8
  • Are you Peteris Krumins' TeX consultant? Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 11:15
  • @GarbageCollector: No. May I ask what gave you that idea? Or is this some kind of humor I dont get? Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 11:44
  • Because in your screenshot there is Peteris Krumins' name. He was a person looking for a TeX consultant last year in this site. I forgot the link. I will search for it shortly. This is his question. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 11:54
  • Ah, but still no. I just took the contents from the question, analogous to Yiannis Lazarides' answer. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 12:30
  • 1
    No problem, curiosity is what fuels this place ;) Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 12:34
11

As always I want to recommend Inkscape which with some meddling can export PDF's that you run through LaTeX and get the best of two worlds.

7

The source code for the title page from the The TikZ & PGF Manual might be interesting.

Also, the source code for cover graphic from another version of the title page is available.

Although these are specifically used as title pages, with some study of the source code, similarly inspired designs could be used in the design of a book cover.

1

There's also @jfogarty's latex-createspace-bookcover repo, which even includes a spine:

enter image description here

0

If your book is not a textbook or technical reference, then there is no substitute for graphic design. The design does not have to be exotic. It merely needs to convey the impression that "this is not a textbook or technical reference" to potential readers.

If you will be using a print-on-demand service, nowadays most of them are happy to accept a PNG or JPG image, prepared according to their standards. Their web sites will explain. You may also be able to provide a PDF, but in most cases that would only be a wrapper around a single graphic image, not a file produced by TeX.

Unless it is a solid color, the background should be created in a raster graphics program. Usually at 300 pixels per inch. You can add text there, or create text in TeX, then import the result as layers to the graphic. If you use TeX, you do not need to worry about positioning or rotation or color, since you can do that to the imported text in the graphics program.

The finished cover should be flattened (no layers), which rasterizes the text. It will always be rasterized before print, so you lose nothing.

Depending on the print service, you may be required to submit RGB, or CMYK, or your choice. You may be required to attach a color profile, or omit a color profile, or your choice. Given the choice, it is best to submit as RGB without attached color profile. Let them do the color conversion.

Be sure that the text does not have any excessively fine structure. The four-color printing process tends to make fine (small) text hard to read.

The printed color will be in a different color space than you saw on screen. Without a calibrated monitor and graphics art experience, just live with the effect of color conversion. In general, very brightly-colored reds, greens, and blues will print less brightly. Dark colors (deep browns) will appear slightly washed-out. Black may not be as black as you expected.

Professionally printed books use a different print technology. That is why those "instant best-seller" books can have brilliant reds and deep blacks. Same with textbooks, which can be printed using expensive technology, because students have little choice.

You are strongly discouraged from submitting vector artwork. Some services refuse to accept it. If you wish to design using a vector program, then import to a raster program, and finish it there.

0

This method has worked well for me:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{pdfpages}

\begin{document}
\includepdf{cover_page_art.png}

\section {Chapter 1}

blah blah blah...
\end{document}

Just requires that you have your book's cover page in a PDF or PNG file --- e.g cover_page_art.png in this case. Relates to solution here.

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