Cover Design: Simple Style

February 5, 2016 by Kylee Unrau

Following our last cover design post on the contemporary cover theme, I thought it would be good to consider the simple style. This style is similar in many ways to the contemporary style, and because of this, the two are often mistaken for each other. However, the simple style has its own feeling and rules. Here’s how to tell the difference:

The simple style does have many similarities to the contemporary style. In both cases, there are clean lines, and minimal effects, and commonly have a solid background with one image focused in the centre. The main difference is that simple covers centralize around a very minimal image, whereas a contemporary theme can be more complex. Rather than including a realistic photo, for example, a simple cover may include an outline, or a representation of a very symbolic image, or no image at all!

This style is becoming more and more popular, especially with non-fiction books. Bible studies, Christian life titles, and devotions are all great candidates for this style, since the author is often trying to hone in on a particular message or theme to be explored. Usually the image portrayed on the cover can be applied to a broad theme or idea.

The trick is to make the book appealing, while not working with many details. A simple image can look really great! Or it can come across as a bit flat if not done well. It’s important to have good contrast and recognizable imagery (if any images are used). The images should be small enough that there is still ample use of empty space. Often, a smaller than usual font is used, or a different style of spacing or alignment of font to keep the reader on their toes.

Take a look at the cover for Catherine Tekakwitha for example. This is a very simple cover, with minimal colours and fonts. It’s an eye catching design, focusing on the iconic imagery of the cross without it looking cliché or cheesy.

One of the latest books we’ve been working on is called Passion Cry. This author wanted a very simple cover, with an image that would attract the reader’s eye to the title while focusing on the specific theme of passion. You’ll notice that the colours used are all in the same theme, and that the flame image is a simple outline. This is not a realistic photo, but one that still evokes the feeling of fire, and can represent the passion for Christ in the lives of believers. This cover is appealing to the eye, and the simplicity of it beckons the reader in to find out more.

What If, by Naomi Ziedins, is a great example of a simple style that forgoes the image entirely. A bit of texture in the background, and a bright pop of colour on the title, make this cover interesting and uncluttered, with a strong focus on the provocative title.

This style is really popular right now with authors who want to focus on their message, and impart some sort of wisdom to their audience. Often, these authors are trying to make their audience think about something in a new way, which is why this style is a perfect fit for personal growth books, and books on Christian life.

I’ve included a few other examples of simple covers that I’ve come across. Let us know if you have a favourite from these, or know of other cover examples that embody the simple style! As always, feel free to give us a call if you’d like to discuss whether this style could work well for your book’s message and themes, or if you have any questions about our cover design process!






About this Contributor

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Kylee Unrau is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with majors in both English and Theatre. She enjoys fantasy and science fiction, horseback riding and video games, tea and coffee (most people prefer one or the other. I say, “Bring on the caffeine!”). Kylee hates Winnipeg winters and loves bonfires and camping.