What Typography Choices Can Reveal About Politics

Every font can be used to elicit a response from the reader. We recognize it through our emotions and as we interact with the shapes and colors of the letters on the page. When creating a specific brand or when branding an idea, this concept can be incredibly powerful.
Let’s start with an extreme example. The Blackletter text of the Fraktur font will always be associated with the Nazi party. Hitler used the native German text as a way to unify people into a sense of nationalism because he understood that language could be used for manipulation. Once he had the support that he wanted, he flipped the switch and said the language had been corrupted throughout history by the Jewish people. He then used it as a way to justify the persecution and murder of innocent people. Though time has created distance, Fraktur text is instantly recognizable and associated with this specific ideology. The above picture was spotted on a bus door in September of 2019, in Dresden, Germany. It reads, “This bus is driven by a German driver.” There is no question as to what the sign means.
There is a pattern that oppressors use to weaponize language when they are creating their brands. It’s a familiar tactic that can be detected by a subtle or blatant switch in font and color in political propaganda. The signs that represent the ideology start out benign, with serifs or organic curves to suggest brotherhood, unity, and a concern for all. Then they shift to sans serif, bold, and blocky fonts to make the ideology stand out. The use of a bold sans serif in itself isn’t bad. In fact, for many years American politicians have used bold sans serifs to create their brands and capture the attention of voters. It’s the subtle changes and inconsistencies in their usage that can indicate that things are headed in a dangerous direction.
In light of what happened in our country on January 6 of this year, I think it’s fitting to look at the campaign posters of Donald Trump to see what kind of message he has been sending from the beginning. While it might be argued that this is just one biased opinion, remember that we don’t have to rely solely on what I glean from his posters; the former President has been very verbal about his agenda and has backed it up with his actions.

Font used by Trump

Changes in Trump’s Campaign Posters

In his first campaign, there was little unification except for the box with the little stars that eventually became his logo. He changed his fonts and colors for every group that he pandered to. His slogan, “Make America Great Again,” was written with America as the main focus in a Century Schoolbook (serif) font; this large, non-threatening word served as his hook. The poster that bore his name was put in bold, and his slogan took up roughly the same amount of space. America was no longer the focus and had no special treatment, but there was also a pleasing amount of negative space, leaving the impression that there was room for others with Trump. Even though he appealed to the majority, there were warning signs. He started out humble-ish until he was elected.
His 2020 campaign tells a completely different story. He had to scrap the “Keep America Great” slogan because 2020 hadn’t been such a banner year, and not very many of his promises had come to fruition. His propaganda, however, would have you believe otherwise. His logo and name took up almost half of the space, and the margins were pushed out to maximize the overall space. Overblown, in-your-face, and loud Akzidenz Grotesk font screams, “Trump is the Greatest!” The poster bearing his VP’s name shows that Pence has been demoted along with America, and the red line between their names says that Trump won’t be sharing power with anyone.
Had the coup on January 6 succeeded, our country may have learned to associate this unfortunate font with a dictator, just as the Germans do with the Fraktur font. Trump made promises that he wouldn’t be the typical politician, and in regards to American politics, he was right. Though Trump used Akzidenz Grotesk font for his campaign, it is ambiguous enough to escape shame and may still have a future.

Tips on Pairing Fonts

Good typography can make anything look good, but it can be hard to successfully pair your fonts. Creating contrast is the key to good font pairing. You can achieve contrast in many ways, and it is a lot simpler than you think. Here are a few tips on how you can successfully pair fonts without needing a degree in graphic design.

Use Different Weights of the Same Font

The easiest way to ensure that your typography choices look good together is to use different weights of the same font. You choose one typeface, and then utilize the different weights of that typeface to create contrast. A great example of this is using a bold weight for the header and a regular weight for the body. This method also creates consistency in your document/design because everything looks similar, but it’s just different enough to create contrast.

Use a Serif with a Sans Serif Font

A classic example of contrast is pairing a sans serif font with a serif font. These fonts compliment each other because sans serifs tend to be visually undetailed, while serifs have more visual detail. Another way to do this is to pair a script font with a serif font,
or a display font with a sans serif font. It is the balance of the visually detailed fonts with the less detailed fonts that makes these types of pairings successful.

Don’t Pair Fonts That are Too Similar, but Don’t Pair Fonts That are Vastly Different, Either

Pairing two fonts that look too similar is not a good choice because there is not enough contrast between the two. Fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia do not look good together because it’s difficult to tell them apart. At the same time, pairing two fonts that are too different can also backfire because the fonts express a confusing message when used together. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t match an old-western looking font with a sci-fi or modern font, would you?

Sometimes the Only Contrast is Size

Playing with different sizes of the same font is another simple way to create contrast. The trick is creating enough contrast between the sizes so that your information really stands out. Using a 24-point header and an 18-point body text might not create the emphasis that you are looking for, but a 36-point header with an 18-point body text will because there is more of a difference between the sizes, which creates a clear hierarchy of information.
You do not have to be a graphic designer to make beautiful and professional designs. Good typography can turn an okay design into a beautiful design with a few simple steps. You can utilize these steps for any type of document or content, whether it’s a resume, wedding invitation, or a book cover. Good typography signals authenticity, and it is an easy way to make anything look better.

A close-up shot of a tan, Hermes Baby typewriter sitting on a table.

Arial versus Garamond: Tips of the Trade for Making Font Choices

Most people are familiar with the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and while the metaphorical usage applies to people, the literal phrase is something everyone is guilty of. When you’re wandering the bookstore and are suddenly drawn to an outward-facing cover, there are probably several factors that are working together well that caught your eye: the color palette, an image, the graphic design, and, most likely, the font. As you’re examining the title, potential subtitle, and author’s name and credentials, a slew of questions is most likely running through your mind without your active awareness:

  • Is this book professional or amateur?
  • Is it serious or funny?
  • Am I the target audience for this book?

The chosen font for a book cover and its interior should invoke the overall messaging of the book, as well as be readable and accessible to its target audience. There are several things to consider when deciding on a font, but let’s start with the basics.
Font Types: Choose Your Weapon
There are two primary font classes to consider:
Serifs
Serifs were among some of the earliest font choices, and were designed similarly to the handwriting styles of the time. A “serif” refers to the little flourishes attached to the letters, and a common serif font is Times New Roman.
Sans-serifs
As we made our way into the digital age, sans-serifs were created to look more modern as well as increase readability across different digital platforms (“sans” meaning “without”: without serifs). A common sans-serif font is Arial.
You’re familiar with the fonts, now what?
According to this blog from Swatt Books, there are four main things to consider when choosing the right font for your book:
Readability
This is arguably the number one priority to take into account. If someone picks up your book in a store and has a hard time reading it, chances are, they won’t buy it.
Suitability to Subject
Some fonts have been specifically designed to create an association or aesthetic that is independent from the content itself. For example, the Comic Sans font was created for comic books. The implied tone is casual, relaxed, and fun, so choosing it for serious subject matter would be inappropriate.
Suitability to Audience
It’s important to know your target audience and match the font to their preferences. Younger readers tend to prefer sans-serifs fonts because they grew up in the evolving digital landscape, more accustomed to the computerized fonts, while older readers tend to prefer the traditional, serif fonts.
Aesthetics
Lastly, the persona of the font should also match the persona of the target audience and their preferences, not necessarily the author’s preferences.
Preferences from the Pros
Your chosen font should invoke the messaging of the book and how you want the reader to feel while immersed in the writing. The right font is something the reader may not even notice, because it flows so well with the content, whereas the wrong font can seem awkward and out-of-place, creating a jarring reading experience. Ingram Spark polled several professional designers, and these were the fonts they were quick to recommend:
For the Body: Caslon
Caslon was first designed in 1722 by William Caslon I, an English type engraver. It was used extensively in Great Britain and American colonies; it was the very font used to set the Declaration of Independence! It serves to evoke the feeling of human touch, full of warmth and familiarity, which is crucial in drawing the reader in. Jensen, Minion, and Garamond were among some of the runner-up, body font choices.
For the Heading or Chapter Titles: Sans-serif
Polled designers recommended a crisp, clean sans-serif font, and one that is semi-bold to stand out. Sometimes a serif font is connected to a complementary sans-serif, making the cohesion between chapter titles and body text more natural.
The root message at the bottom of all these specifics and examples is simple: the font choices you make need to be intentional for the particular book you’re working on. So know your target audience, clarify your messaging, and complement the tone of the font to both factors.

The golden spiral drawn on a black chalkboard.

Golden Ratio in Book Design: A Myth or Practical?

According to Syed Abbas, “the ‘golden ratio’ is a naturally occurring mathematical ratio derived from the Fibonacci sequence, where every number in the sequence (after the second) is the sum of the previous two numbers.” The line of thinking with the golden ratio is that, when used in design, it makes things proportional and easier to look at. It has many applications and there is a lot of mystery and myth surrounding its use. There are myths that this sequence of numbers has been used in the design of great architectural works of art including the Great Pyramids and the Parthenon. Other sources say that these claims are false and cannot be substantiated. This is especially true in book design. When we study book design and read the literature about it, it comes up quite often. Is this ratio actually an applicable concept in book design, or is its real-world use in book design another myth?

According to Andrew Haslam, German typographer Jan Tschichold researched many western books and manuscripts and discovered that many of them were printed in a “golden section format.” In other words, “the golden section rectangle (the page of a book) can be divided so that the relationship between the smaller and the larger is the same as that between the larger and the whole.” Haslam explains that “the consistent relationship between the square and golden-section rectangle creates a logarithmic spiral sequence. Each square relates to the next as part of the Fibonacci series.” You can apply this principle in book design. It is mostly applicable to the layout and spacing of the book. By using the golden sections as a guideline for your layout process, it could make decisions about proportions, placement, and white space on your page quicker and easier.

“The biggest issue with using the golden ratio in your designs is that the actual ratio itself, 1.618033, is an irregular number, meaning it is very hard to use the exact numbers,” explains Angela Roche. The best you can do is get very close to those proportions, meaning your proportions will be just slightly off. According to Roche, an easier way for you to apply this concept of proportion is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is simple—two horizontal lines and two vertical lines creates a grid of nine subsections. In theory, all main points of interest or attention in a visual image should align along those lines or at their intersections. Instead of trying to use the exact math of the golden ratio, you could use the rule of thirds to be more mindful of your proportions when designing a book.

When we look at the research and use of the golden ratio in book design, it is clear to see that the golden ratio can in fact aid you in your layout of a book’s contents including images, text, and white space. Many book designers have tried-and-true methods to their designs that they use every time they layout a book. At the end of the day, what really matters is the manuscript itself. If you can use the golden ratio as a guideline or template for your layout, do it. However, the golden ratio is not something that most book designers use or even think about all the time. It is more helpful to use the golden ratio as inspiration or a reminder to pay more attention to the proportions of your page rather than something you need to use everytime you design a book.

picture of a bookshelf with YA titles

Color Theory: How the Color Palettes of YA Book Covers Vary by Subgenre

Have you ever taken a look at your bookshelf and noticed that one color of books dominates over the rest? Maybe that’s not something you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, but if you’ve ever tried the rainbow bookshelf trend, you definitely know which color of book covers you prefer. Thinking about that got me curious, and I decided to launch a survey asking YA readers which colors attract them most when they go out in search of a new book.

The results were amazing. I was expecting a small response pool, maybe fifty to one hundred respondents, and ended up with nearly nine hundred responses from forty-eight countries. I started by asking how much color affected readers’ desire to purchase a book, and 87 percent of respondents said they were less likely to buy a book if they didn’t like the color of the cover. An overwhelming 78 percent said they would buy a book with a blue cover, followed closely by black with 61 percent and red with 48 percent. Colors such as purple and green weren’t far behind. However, a dramatic drop-off happened with brighter colors like orange and yellow. In fact, only 11 percent of survey respondents said they’d be likely to buy a book with a yellow cover.

Things got even more interesting when subgenres were included in the results. Nearly 73 percent of respondents said they preferred reading YA fantasy books, followed closely by YA adventure books at 49 percent and YA romance novels at 43 percent. When I did the math, all three genres said they’d be likely to buy a book with a blue cover. However, fantasy and adventure readers responded that they were more likely to purchase red, black, or green books, and romance readers were more likely to purchase books with purple or pink covers. Readers of YA contemporary novels only made up 28 percent of the response pool, but I found that they were three times as likely as readers of other genres to buy a book with a yellow or orange cover.

Wanting to see how this played out in sales, I took a look at Seventeen magazine’s December 2019 article, “The 91 Best YA Books of 2019 So Far.” When you scroll through the results, the overwhelming majority of best sellers sported blue, black, or red covers, which might lead one to wonder—would certain books have sold better if their covers had been designed differently?

Unfortunately, that’s a question we’ll likely never know the answer to. Though, if you’re curious, it might be fun to look into how different editions of books with redesigned covers differed in sales trends. But if you’re not up for that level of research, that’s cool too. Just let me know how haywire your brain goes the next time you find yourself scouting the bookstore and end up with a stack of blue books on the way out.

A Drawing is Worth a Thousand Words

The written word of a well-crafted story creates beautiful images in our imaginations. A skillfully drawn or painted piece of art can evoke emotion and wonder. However, when pictures and writing combine, they create an artform unto itself. What I’m talking about here are comics, and they are full of unlimited possibilities. This unique combination allows the reader to experience both received and perceived information all at once and gives them the unique experience of interpreting on multiple planes. What do I mean by that? I mean that comics allow us to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the story. No other art form does that—that’s why comics are so absorbing. But, how do they do it? How are all of our senses engaged when we read them? Through the use of a specific and deliberately placed line. Yes, a line! Here’s how it works.

We use the language of symbols and icons in our everyday lives—a language that our letters and numbers are a part of. Pictures have always had meaning to us. We know what a circle with a red line through it or a solid red octagon means, and there doesn’t have to be a word on it. The same premise is used in comics. Let’s start with the panel.

The panel is where the magic happens; it’s where the whole world of the story is contained. Any shape and line configuration can be used to help convey the sought-after information. The breaks between panels are of great importance. These little gaps have infinite meaning and represent time. Seconds to millennia can pass, and this is where the reader gets to fill in the blanks. Someone could die in that little bit of space, or decades could be skipped. The reader gets to interpret what the author has intended and put their own perspective twist on it.

Let’s get into the meat and bones of how a story is told. A simple mark on the paper carries its own symbolism. This is where our whole body can participate because our eyes recognize the meaning behind the line. If you think of a swirl, a squiggle, an angle, or a straight line, what kind of emotions come into play? What if the lines are broken or diffused, soft or bold, thick or thin? There’s a world of meaning in the different combinations. For example, a jagged line that’s bold, broken, and splayed can represent anger whereas a curved line that is soft and diffused can represent intimacy. There’s an endless amount of combinations that can be created, each carrying with it a precise meaning that our brains elucidate.

By the time the words in the panels hit us, we may no longer need them because the meaning of the images is so strong. In fact, the sign of good visual storytelling is to be able to understand the story even if the words aren’t there. The use of words in comics is like condiments on a sandwich. They add to the flavor, but they’re not what you want a whole mouthful of. If you look at the picture below, you can clearly see what’s going on in the story. The words were purposely left off to illustrate that the panels can stand on their own. However, the words add a little bit of kick to cement the story line.

Artist Aaron Humphres

The fun thing about comic art is that, as a reader, your interpretations can be subtle and—because the artist is a skilled craftsman—you may never need to wonder about the lines used because you will simply understand. Finding the balance between pictures and words is the sweet spot in telling an effective story. Of course, sometimes the artist and author don’t always hit the nail on the head, but the mistakes may add charm to the story being told.

Awesome InDesign Secrets You Probably Don’t Know About

InDesign is no doubt one of the most popular desktop publishing software programs on the market. The software contains a wide variety of elements and functions for graphic design and page layout. InDesign takes time and practice to get comfortable using, and a lot of the super helpful and time-saving tools remain unknown because of that. As Design Manager for Ooligan Press, I come across this a lot. It’s time to point the spotlight on a few unknown tips and tricks that will save you time, energy, and frustration when designing.

Publish Online. The “Publish Online” feature is familiar if you use InDesign, yet a lot of designers don’t know exactly what it does or why it’s so helpful. It lets you remodel a print document for the web. Documents intended for print have requirements entirely different from web documents. Instead of having to completely recreate the print document to be formatted for the web, you can just employ the “Publish Online” function to switch the document from print to web just like that. It saves a lot of time and includes other features like interactivity, shareability, and the ability to see views wherever it is posted.

Content Aware Fit. “Content Aware Fit” is a newer feature in InDesign that saves a lot of time placing images by using AI to intelligently place an image into a frame based on its subject. It differs from the “Fill Frame Proportionally” feature because it actually finds the subject of the photo and places it where it should be in the frame. An even easier way to utilize this feature is by going to the “Preferences” menu, selecting “General,” and clicking the box under “Content Aware Fit,” which makes it the default frame-fitting option. Now, every time you place an image, the subject will automatically be in the frame. This tip saves a lot of energy placing images and is highly useful when you are working with many images in one project.

Document History. The “Document History” feature is probably one of the most unknown and sneaky features available in InDesign. If you hold down the “Ctrl” button (“command” for Mac) and click the “About InDesign” menu, a document history dialog box will appear. This box tells us a lot of information we would not usually need to know about a document. For example, it shows if there are any plug-ins being used, how many times that document has been saved, and if it is the most recent save, among many other things. This is mostly helpful when you are collaborating with another designer on one document, or when you are receiving documents from others. It is not always useful, but when it is, you are glad you have it.

Liquid Layout. The “Liquid Layout” function is so much fun, but most new designers are not aware of it. You use it to easily adapt page contents and objects to other document sizes. This function can save an enormous amount of time when you realize you need to change the dimensions of your page after you’ve already started designing it. Having to restart a design because you are using the wrong dimensions is a terrible waste of time, but using the “Liquid Layout” function saves you from that frustration.

Books with Fan Art: Including the Audience in the Design

For as long as there have been popular books, there have been reprints and special editions of those books. Redesigning a cover for a new edition of a book can have many purposes: it can be to draw in a new audience, to market the book better in a new country, to advertise its upcoming movie, to celebrate its publication anniversary, and so on. Readers often buy multiple editions of their favorite books, some to read and some to display proudly. Reprinting is common in any literary genre, but a new trend has emerged in Young Adult fiction, partly thanks to the internet: the inclusion of fan-made artwork in a book’s special or collector’s edition.

Authors and publishers have been making use of social media to market their books for a long time, and in some pretty smart and creative ways. A lot of these posts are made with the aim of engagement in mind—there’s no better way to get many people to see a post than to invite the audience to interact with it. YA authors in particular have proven the importance of audience engagement, and many of the most popular YA authors share fan-made works on their own pages. This, along with thanking fans for reading and buying their books, helps create a rapport between the author and the audience where the fans are acknowledged for their role in the success of their favorite books.

It’s a logical next step that publishers would further the audience engagement by redesigning special editions to include the fans, and in many cases, these special editions have sold very well; the collector’s edition of Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen with original fan art has sold 17,798 copies so far, while the collector’s edition of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give with its own fan art has sold 132,943 copies so far (sales information from NPD DecisionKey as of 4/20/20). Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone has five special editions: Reaper, Burner, Lighter, Connector, and Seer editions, each printed with new covers and fan art. None of these special editions appear on the NPD database, so we cannot know how well they have sold so far. However, given that Henry Holt and Co. decided to do five separate reprints of one title, all announced together, they were clearly very confident that these editions would sell well. These special editions are often priced higher, and may have limited runs.

These books aren’t being bought solely by the artists whose works are chosen to be included in the new editions; the market for these special editions is demonstrably larger. Fans are willing to pay higher prices, even on books they might already own in an older edition, because the collaborative process between fan base and publisher or author is unique and rewarding even if it is not between the individuals involved. These collector’s editions are seen as a win for the community: we as fans have loved something so much that we get our own version of it which specifically acknowledges what we bring to the work. It behooves authors and publishers to build a dialogic relationship between them and the audience. By allowing fans to become a part of the creative process, publishers are widening their pool of inspiration while rewarding loyal fans, and together we can create something new.

Covering Up: How Color Choice Affects the Way Audience Perceives a Book

When it comes to publishing, you should judge a book by its color. Despite the popular phrase discouraging the practice of judging a book by its cover, a good book cover has been carefully crafted using color to tell you everything you need to know about the content inside in just a quick glance. Although many elements make up a strategic cover, such as font, texture, layout, photographic or drawn elements, and the text to image ratio, one of the most important ways designers do this is with color.

Color theory is a popular topic in discussions about interior design, website design, fashion, and elsewhere, but it also plays a vital role in the publishing industry. The color of a book cover affects your judgment of a book before you even read the description. If you were browsing a book shop, what would drive you to pick a random book off of a shelf if all you could see was the spine? It is likely that something about the color would catch your eye first, causing you to grab the book off the shelf. If you were shopping for books online and saw a related title that looked interesting, you would probably click the link because the color had drawn your eye to other design elements that caught your interest.

So, if color is so important, how do we use it to tell audiences what they need to know about a book? It is important to consider two things: first, how colors affect our emotions, and second, the way typical colors are used for different genres. It’s also important to consider how subverting these rules can create a striking result.

We’ve all probably heard that cool colors are more calming, and hot colors are more exciting. Maybe you’ve heard that colors like red, orange, and yellow are more likely to make you hungry, resulting in fast food signs with fiery shades. In book cover design, color functions similarly. Blue is a calming color that promotes trust and mental engagement, which is why it can be seen on covers for thought-provoking fiction, political memoirs, and nonfiction. Red can be used to communicate strong, bold feelings like passion, angst, or energy. This is why you might see it on a horror cover, but different hues will also show up on the covers of romance novels. Most white covers indicate minimalistic and straightforward books, as white is a symbol of purity and simplicity. Black covers will often be observed for horror, thriller, and mystery genres, where it suggests mystery, death, and suspense, while shades of green can be used for fantasy novels and environmental nonfiction. Yellow is often used for feel-good and self-help titles. For a detailed study on emotional reactions colors can illicit, including a chart of various shades and their results, visit Cover Design Studio’s post on the Best Colors for Book Covers.

These rules can help guide designers in their selection of a main color for a cover, but the secondary colors are just as important. The selection of secondary colors (covers will usually feature more than two colors) can be done by looking at complementary colors, which are opposites on the color wheel, or analogous colors, which are neighbors on the color wheel. Keeping in mind the genre of the book and what you want to say emotionally with the color choice, contrast is key. Juxtaposing bright and dark shades will increase visibility regardless of the genre. Dark backgrounds convey seriousness and authority, and softer pastels convey nuance and lighter subject matter. But even at different saturations, contrast can be used in color by selecting complementary or analogous colors.

The typical colors for a genre will only take a designer so far. Breaking the genre rules, like including yellow on the cover for a thriller or horror novel, is a great way to catch the eye of a reader in a sea of black and red covers. These rules and tactics are only made to be used and broken in a way that achieves the desired result, so designers shouldn’t be afraid to make a bold choice. The payoff could be enormous.

We’re All on Our Way to Becoming Bookstagram Stars

Book lovers, take a look at your shelf. What do you see? Not all of us can be Bookstagram stars with a plethora of breathtaking displays, but recently I’ve discovered that my books seem to follow a very similar color scheme. At first I thought this was a happy coincidence, but it turns out that publishers definitely know what they’re doing. In the book publishing world, marketing all begins with the cover.

A book’s cover is its most powerful marketing tool: it serves as a poster for the book and gives the consumer an idea of its contents. Whether we like it or not, we do tend to judge a book by its cover. One of the first things designers take into account when developing a cover is the color palette. While many artists are free to choose whatever shades they’d like to feature in their work, book designers must consider the marketing aspect of the cover. It is common practice for publishers, including Ooligan Press, to generate a list of successful titles within the same genre of the book to discern similar color palettes, design trends, and typefaces. The idea is that a reader will most likely associate the new book with a book that they’ve previously enjoyed. The power of recognizability within the intended market can be a powerful thing. According to Yu and Ahn’s study on the correlation between marketing and visual cues, delivering what a customer expects elicits positive reactions and increases the likelihood of purchasing the product.

For instance, if you’re like me and love a good fantasy title, you’ll notice that your bookshelf probably contains many shades of blue, grey, and black. A study conducted by Labrecque and Milne from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science shows that these colors tend to symbolize dignity, power, and mystery—all of which are elements in fantasy books. On the other hand, romance titles tend to utilize pastels with pops of bright, vivid colors. These shades symbolize sincerity and warmth, which are also indicative of the genre.

A book’s cover also comes down to how it is designed. In some cases, such as thrillers or memoirs, it’s encouraged to use photography as a foundation to establish that connection with the reader and the real world. But in genres such as fantasy, photos are rarely used on the cover because they take away from the audience’s imagination of the fantastical settings or characters. In those cases, digital illustrations are often preferred to capture that magical element and preserve mystery.

Recently, I read a romantic comedy book set in Singapore. The first thing I noticed was the cover’s minimalist vector art style in bright colors, which was almost identical to the Crazy Rich Asians series by Kevin Kwan. I picked up the book because I thoroughly enjoyed Kwan’s trilogy. The publisher definitely meant to catch my attention and—spoiler alert—it worked. It’s sitting on my shelf right now, in its happy home next to its Crazy Rich Asians cousin. I am a walking example of the efficacy of this book marketing technique and honestly, I don’t mind it. If it leaves me with a colorful array of books in all my favorite genres, I might just be on my way to becoming a Bookstagram star after all.