How to Make Print Covers
More Effective Online


A great book cover should be striking, memorable, profound, and, most of all, eye-catching. It should pull a reader across a bookstore with a flash of color or a slick effect. But today, designers must think beyond the physical bookstore and consider the digital one as well. The parameters of each differ in nearly every respect. So, how have designers adjusted? With the huge growth in online sales, has the digital bookstore begun to drive the design process?

Here are some tips offered by Penguin Random House experts on cover design and selling online.

The Sizing Challenge.
The most noticeable difference between a cover’s presentation online and in person is its size. On the shelf, a cover might be 10″x6″, but online it shrinks to about an inch on a computer screen—and even smaller on a mobile device. Given this discrepancy, you might think that the solution to this conundrum would be creating two different covers—one that works on a larger scale and one that pops at a fraction of that size. But designers warn against this. The cover is the most obvious consumer-facing branding of a book, and designers want to ensure that a reader can recognize that brand across all formats and platforms. Whether a reader sees the cover in a promotional email recommending the book, in the window as she passes her local bookstore, or online when she goes to buy it, she should see the same image every time. The consistency bolsters her relationship with the book and increases the likelihood of purchase.

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Google Stories One Letter at a Time

A clever bit of collaborative advertising between Google and Pixar, the latest Google search story video was timed to the release of “Toy Story 3” and features the familiar voices of Andy’s toys. It runs just one-minute long and is devoid of any fancy animation. A mini-preview of the next “Toy Story,” the video introduces us to key characters and hints at the plot and happy outcome.

Google search stories originally started out as a series of online videos about the product and its users. One search story, “Parisian Love,” got so many hits during the first three months that it played on YouTube that the company decided to break its rule about not running TV ads and aired it on the 2010 Super Bowl. What’s brilliant about the Google search stories are their utter simplicity and charm. The “searchers” always remain faceless and anonymous, yet their stories unfold through letters clicked into the search box, forming words that reveal tales of romance, adventure travel, job changes, health concerns, and personal passions. Viewers become voyeurs to the searchers’ life, yearnings, paranoia, interests, peccadilloes, and wild imagination, following their logic to delightful conclusions. “Every quest is its own story,” claims Google’s YouTube channel, which invites visitors to create their own search story. Actually, that is something we do everyday, often unaware of how much that says about where we are coming from.

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