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.