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5 Great Fonts for Book Covers


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Post image for 5 Great Fonts for Book CoversOne of the most consistent and easily corrected mistakes I see with book covers that are designed by authors is weak or inappropriate typography. Given that a book cover usually has very few words on it, and those words (title, subtitle, author’s name) have a huge influence on buying decisions, this can be a major problem.

For instance, if you’re writing about a topic considered masculine and aimed at a male audience, does it help you to have an overly-embellished or feminine typeface that’s barely readable on your book cover? No, I don’t think so either. Or for a historical romance, you wouldn’t want a modern clean sans serif typeface like Helvetica for your cover. It would simply look dangerously out of place.

How Inappropriate Typefaces Happen

The reasons some authors end up with this kind of typography on their book covers include:

  • A lack of design training
  • Only judging what is seen on the screen and being unable to visualize the effect on a printed cover
  • Using the typefaces that came with the computer

This last reason is probably the most common. After all, when you look down that long list of fonts, it seems that there should be something there that’s usable, right? But that’s not always the case.

Display fonts are different from text fonts. Their weights, spacing, set widths and many other tiny details differ. It’s difficult to impossible to make a text typeface look really good on a book cover. I’m not saying you’ll never see this done well, but it’s much more likely that the cover you’re looking at with that gorgeous Garamond on it was done by a professional designer with years of experience and a lot of graphic tricks up her sleeve.

No, it’s far better for amateurs to use display typefaces when it comes to their book covers. To help out, here are 5 typefaces, some of them free, that you can experiment with on your book covers.

5 Great Fonts for Your Book Cover

To get you started, I’ve collected 5 great fonts for book cover design. Even better, three of them are free, and you can download them at fontsquirrel.com, so start experimenting with these for your book cover.

1. Chunk Five (free from fontsquirrel.com): This meaty and emphatic slab serif font is ideal for book titles in numerous genres. Try this font for action-oriented or political stories. Here’s a cover I did for an around-the-world sailing story:

great fonts for book covers

book design for self-publishers

2. League Gothic (free from fontsquirrel.com): This sans serif font is very vertical, which is ideal for book titles. League Gothic would be a great choice for thrillers or business books, and it can be useful if you have a very long title, too. Here’s a sample on Joanna Penn’s terrific thriller.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

3. Trajan (available from Adobe): You might recognize Trajan, and that’s because it’s been used for more movie posters than any other font. It works quite well on books, too. This classic font is appropriate for histories, novels, and historical fiction, among others. Check out the French film poster using Trajan.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

4. Franchise (free from fontsquirrel.com): Another tall and meaty sans serif, just ideal for the right book cover treatment. Franchise would be a great pick for a historical epic, for mysteries, or for thrillers. Here’s a sample of a novel in a gritty urban setting.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

5. Baskerville (many versions available): Sometimes you need to have a straight roman typeface for your title, and in that case I like to use one of the variations of Baskerville, a highly readable typeface. You might find Baskerville perfect for a memoir, a business book, or a historical romance. Here’s a sample, and a cover from Vintage Books that shows how effective it can be.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

The best way to see the effect these fonts will have on your book is by trying them out. Since most of them are free, there’s no reason not to. Just looking at these fonts and imagining them on a book cover helps give you a sense of how the fonts you choose influence the look and tone of your book.

I was stuck as to which typeface I could use on my book jacket so I chose to ask Google’s advice which lead me to this website. Giving me five suggested typefaces, this article suggests to just give a typeface a try and see what feeling it evokes. Personally I feel that If I had a great knowledge of typefaces I would have more of a gut feeling as to what typeface I would use.. I do have a preference to a sans serif typeface as I feel it has more impact. 

For the book cover that is designed to be part of a series I would consider a serif typeface as I feel they have more historic emotions to them.


Time viewed 23:49

key points of the big sleep.

Key Facts

full title ·  The Big Sleep

author ·  Raymond Chandler

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Crime novel; detective novel; mystery; noir; Los Angeles fiction

language ·  English

time and place written ·  Late 1930s, Los Angeles

date of first publication ·  1939

publisher ·  Alfred Knopf

narrator ·  Philip Marlowe, a private detective, describes the actions that take place as he describes the commission at hand

point of view ·  First person

tone ·  The author and narrator share the same tone of darkness and cynical romanticism

tense ·  Immediate past

setting (time) ·  1930s

setting (place) ·  Los Angeles

protagonist ·  Philip Marlowe

major conflict ·  Detective Philip Marlowe is hired to take care of a blackmailing case involving a man named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, a pornographer whose death causes many other deaths. The novel also concerns the search for Rusty Regan, which occupies the second half of the book and becomes a second plot line

rising action ·  The murder of Geiger; the death of Owen Taylor; Brody’s blackmailing and death; Carol Lundgren’s capture; Agnes’s partnership with Harry Jones and, earlier, Joe Brody; the finding of Mona Grant; Carmen’s appearance in Marlowe’s bed; General Sternwood’s admission of wanting to find Rusty Regan; Carmen’s attempt to murder Marlowe in the oilfields

climax ·  Carmen attempts to kill Marlowe in the abandoned oil field, causing Marlowe to put the pieces of the Rusty Regan puzzle together and link it with the rest of the plot

falling action ·  Marlowe’s explanation to Vivian Sternwood of what he knows about Rusty Regan causing her to confess to the disposal of her husband’s body and causing her to promise to help Carmen towards a cure for her madness.

themes ·  The cynicism of 1930s America; the corruption of American society

motifs ·  The knight; the weather

symbols ·  The greenhouse; the orchids; the stained glass; the chessboard

foreshadowing ·  The portrait and its dark eyes; the stained glass; the weather


Time viewed 19:30 pm

These are the key points that were pointed out to me from the spark-notes website. I found these useful at the beginning of my research as it has helped me direct my further research and choose what I would like to concentrate on.

Sisterly love.

Carmen Sternwood

Like Marlowe, Carmen is not what she appears. She appears to be, as her father says a young, childish girl who “likes to pull the wings off flies.” Her “flies,” however turn out to be much larger than her father imagined. Carmen murders Rusty Regan, the character Marlowe has been searching for futilely. Carmen is so important because she illustrates an inherent “doubleness” that exists throughout the novel.

In a feminist reading, we might see Carmen as a character that is portrayed in a typically anti-feminist manner. She is unintelligent and emotional. She is spoiled just like her sister, Vivian. Carmen is a flirtatious, giggly, beautiful girl with the heart of a murderess. More important, she is mentally instable—a Siren of sorts, much like the deadly Sirens who tempt Odysseus in Homer’sOdyssey. The portrayal of women in The Big Sleep is one that can be explored further in the characters of Vivian Sternwood and the attractive Mona Mars.


Time viewed 19:07 pm

From my research so far I have chosen to concentrate on the sisters. I believe their characters are good representations of the concept unruliness. This is the detailed character description of the youngest sister; Carmen.

What is the book about?

Chapter 2

Marlowe follows the butler into the greenhouse, where the sick General is waiting. The greenhouse is uncomfortably hot, filled with jungle-like greenery, and the air thick and moist, suffused with a suffocating odor of wet orchids. They reach an open space where the sick and dying General is sitting in his wheelchair. Marlowe sits down and accepts a drink of brandy, and is told that he may smoke. The ailing General Sternwood explains that, like the orchids, he seems only to be able to exist in this heat.

The two men have a fast-paced conversation. Marlowe describes himself briefly and the General outlines the case that Marlowe is supposed to “take care of.” The General says he is being blackmailed, and not for the first time. He had been blackmailed in the past by a man named Joe Brody, to whom he had to pay $5,000 in order for Joe to the General’s youngest daughter, Carmen, alone.

Now, the General is again being blackmailed through a scheme involving his daughter, by man named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, who claims that Carmen has a number of gambling debts, for which he provides three signed promissory notes. Sternwood shows Marlowe the promissory notes, which carry Carmen’s signature and date from September, the month prior. Also attached is a card that carries the name of Mr. Arthur Gwynn Geiger and the name of his business, “Rare Books and De Luxe Editions.” The rare book business appears to be some kind of cover for Geiger, who is asking for $1,000.

 Sternwood then introduces another mystery when he mentions the disappearance of his son-in-law, Rusty Regan. The General had taken a liking to Regan because Regan had spent many hours with the General in the hot greenhouse talking to him. Regan had been a soldier in the Irish revolution, an illegal immigrant in the United States, and had married the General’s eldest daughter, Vivian Sternwood. After this aside about Regan’s disappearance, the conversation ends.

Marlowe exits the greenhouse to find Norris, the butler, ready to write out a check for him and telling him that “Mrs. Regan”—Vivian Sternwood—would like to see him. Apparently Mrs. Regan is curious as to why her father has called in a private detective.


Time viewed 19:00 pm.

This is just an extract from spark-notes which goes into detail about the plot of The Big Sleep. Due to the short time span that this project is I do not have time to read the book itself as I would of liked. During further reading I found a suggested metaphor of the green house lined with the daughters. The orchids are representations of their personalities.

A visual inspiration.

William Boyd Fascination book jacket

We are asked to respond to the brief in a photographic way and in a creative manner. When researching through the theory on book cover design I came across this photograph/ book cover design and feel that I can take inspiration from it when approaching my own creative response. My one criticism is that the hierarchy is not all that clear, perhaps smaller text could have been used to display this.