• The Publishing Post

Book Cover Design Trends for 2021

Cover design trends for books in 2021 are becoming increasingly creative and innovative, with designers experimenting in forms of color, shape and objects. In this issue, we are going to explore the cover trends that will be hitting bookstores and online retailers this year and evaluate the stories that are created from these experimental designs that speak volumes before you have even read the excerpt!


All-Over Patterns


The style of bold, vibrant colour stretching to a cover’s edge is growing increasingly popular as the industry moves forward into 2021. Solaris is set to publish Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley in March 2021 and this science fiction thriller draws readers in by its captivating design, reminiscent of bubbling elements and scientific ingredients. All-over patterns demand the eye’s attention, and they are staple features in any bookshop display that are often a reader’s first note of interest when browsing for material.


The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is another such example of loud colour and stretched design. Elongating an image or illustration has the effect of making its symbol or theme feel larger, not only in size, but in importance as well. It entices a reader’s senses, and in an age where designers are taking this trend further with the incorporation of sprayed edges, every inch of a book is a canvas to use in selling an idea.


These covers entice our attention, and in a time where our attention is being tested by outward events, this trend is one to watch when contemplating future cover design.


Blurry Design

The best-selling author of the Shatter Me series, Tahereh Mafi’s new novel, An Emotion of Great Delight, explores navigating dual identity and being Muslim in the wake of 9/11. Coming out in the UK on the 10th June, this stunning blue cover features a blurred title, reflecting the feeling of a lack of belonging in the novel. The water droplets represent tears, intensify certain letters and intentionally create an obscured cover of emotion.


The Favour by Laura Vaughan offers a translucent title design, combining vibrant colour with a neutral background, and allowing the backing design to shine through the title. It feels as if the title is fading away and becoming one with the cover, as if it is an elusive memory or forgotten past, alluding to foreshadowing within the book.


Obscure, Partially Hidden Titles



Released last month by winner of the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, Hafsa Zayyan’s debut novel We Are All Birds of Uganda explores race through two continents and a generational divide. The painted brushstrokes on the cover are vibrant and mirror the wings of a bird, a possible reference to the crested crane situated on the Ugandan flag. The overlapping colours over the lowercase title evoke themes of conflict but also the merging of these two continents in the struggles that characters Hasan and Sameer face.


Pew by Catherine Lacey offers mystery by having a complex cover, offering what appears like a simplistic design meeting with small interruptions. A reader looking at this title online or in a bookstore, might take notice of the spots of diluted colour and ask themselves what it means. Is this design showing tears and holes, symbolising friction or obstacles ahead? Are they plucked flower petals falling downwards? Are they bleach marks, attempting to take away colour or life? The abstract design, which partially hides the book’s title, offers much in the way of mystery for readers to contemplate.


Objects in Titles


Lost Property by Helen Paris is a delightful, poignant story of life set in the London Transport Lost Property office set to publish in May 2021. The cover design of this novel follows the increasingly popular trend of replacing letters in a title with items or objects of relevance to the theme of the story. Incorporating objects allows a further look into items of importance or glimpses into the future.


Cynthia Murphy’s debut novel Last One To Die is a dark and supernatural story investigating 16- year-old Niamh’s drama school experience in London. Already released in January of this year, the cover design exemplifies the clever ways cover artists are playing with titles. The striking pink neon colours has been a popular favourite in the last year in cover designs, along with the protagonist’s silhouette incorporated into the title. Already foreshadowing that Niamh’s life is in danger, this slick take on a cover design creates a retro theme sure to be popular in the Young Adult genre.

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