Designing the Case Boards of a Hardcover Book

Have you ever noticed the wide variety of colors and styles of hardcover books? Have you ever appreciated that bit of color peeking through a dust jacket? As a publisher, one of my favorite jobs is picking the colors and texture of the paper that covers the boards and makes up the outside of a hardcover book.

bottom, book open to the yellow end sheets

If you take the dust jacket off a favorite hardcover book, you will probably see a two-toned case, possibly one color. Also, there might be a texture, or combination of textures on that paper or cloth. The outside of a hardcover can sometimes contrast nicely with the end sheets. End sheets are the paper on the inside of the cover of a hardcover book.

For example, on Night at the Fiestas by Kirsten Valdez Quade there are two contrasting colors on the outside and a plain white paper on the inside. The spine of the book is stamped in gold (see pic above). There is a subtle texture on the black spine, but the blue part of the cover is smooth. Overall it’s a clean look. When the dust jacket is back on, the colors of the case peeks through and complement the colors on the cover (see left).

After our graphic designer designed a cover for our forthcoming book House of Rougeaux,  we used her design to print advance copies of our book . Using the palette of papers I received from the paper manufacturer (care of one of my printers: TPS), I spent some time tucking various colors under the cover of our advance copy. To start, I noticed our cover is very green, and I don’t want it any more green. So greens are out. As is blue, I wanted to lean toward earth tones.


Eventually I narrowed it down to a few choices. My favorites are “Bronzite” for the spine and “Dijon” for the main cover (see below). And I’m planning on a gold for the stamp (the title and author are “stamped” on the spine). Thanks for joining our little journey about designing the actual hardcover book. Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes look at publishing.

House of Rougeaux by Jenny Jaeckel is publishing in April 2018. To read more about House of Rougeaux, please visit this page.

Forthcoming novel From Ashes into Light

Getting a cover design done is such an out-of-the-gate feeling. And like the beginning of a race, it’s both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. The novel-manuscript just went through a round of edits and the book is beginning to take a life of it’s own. It’s a shimmering story that has a way of molding those of us working with it.

Working with the author Gudrun Mouw has been lovely. She shares some of the process of writing in her blog and author website.

Book cover design is being done by Josue Menjivar, who has been extremely patient both when I had no vision for the cover and then when a very specific vision came to me. His design work is showcased on his website Fresh Brewed Illustration.