10 Inspiring Book Branding Designs

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I love books. The feeling you get when you touch and feel a well designed and crafted book is unlike anything. Designing books – be it the covers or the inside layout – is an art form and demands a high level of skill and experience. In this weeks branding inspiration feature, we look at 10 inspiring book branding designs from talented designers and brand builders that we felt stand head and shoulders above the rest.

1. Pure North Book & Conference

Background: Created by the talented Michael Haberbosch and Vanessa Schnurre, this was a project that started out as a thesis for their masters at the University. To create this masterwork, the duo went on a road trip through Scandinavia visiting close to 20 studios to gather first-hand information about the brand identity, cultural influences, and inspiration through a series of interviews. With a noble aim of creating a book that showcases the Scandinavian graphic design, the project garnered a lot of attention that propelled the duo into the limelight and even a speaking gig at the Muthesius University.

Design Notes: The book cover are minimalistic and yet very striking. With a black cover and bold white text, the design really brings home the simplicity of Scandinavian design sensibilities that you also find in brands such as IKEA.

2. My OCD Book Design

Design Notes: This is an interesting book design by the talented Chia-Lin Wu which marries the traditional with the modern in terms of its style, layout, typography, and photography. The book is about obsessive-compulsive disorder and is the form of poetry and narrative.

The cover shows what appears to be paint-drops along with precisely placed buttons of color. The purple color and the texture of the cover add to the depth and heaviness of the book. Inside the book, the layout, the photos and the flow are so chaotic, it is an irony the book is about OCD.

3. The Letters of Vincent Van Gough

Background: This beautiful and quirky book design was created as a project for the Senior Year Graduation at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University by Gizem Kara.

“The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Letters to Theo)” is a short Turkish edition designed within the only inscribed source project about Van Gogh’s life, which was originally created with 903 letters by Van Gogh Museum.
Design Notes: The cover is quite simple and artisanal with an old world thread binding showing. The threading on the side divides the book name and author’s name elegantly. With a simple yellow and black color palette, the book has a very earthy feel to it – almost like it was printed during the actual time period of Van Gough. One of the best things about the book is a hidden compartment among the pages with a hidden stamp – perhaps from one of the original letters of the great artist.

4. I write, you stay - expectations of a heart

Background: “I Write – You Stay. Expectations of a Heart” was conceived as a visually lyrical oeuvre that reflects the texts of the poet Cornell in terms of materials, colors, forms, and contrasts by VISEE Design. In order to blend poetry and design, this book can be read in two directions.

The part “I Write” is kept in white; it begins in the present and introduces the makers and the programme with the words “Only if you say what you feel, then you say something”. The second, black part aims to encourage interaction with the claim “You Stay”, visualizing this aspiration through the neon colors complementing the black-and-white.

Design Notes: This is an interesting project that pushes the envelope in terms of a books interaction with the mind – not just the content but rather the physical dimension of the book itself. It is quite sublime in the way the cover design, the threading, and colors are used to encourage the reader to explore the book and the two distinct sections of the philosophy behind the content.

5. Hong Kong Institute of Architects Annual Awards 2016/17

Design Notes: This beautiful book created by Vision Plus for the Hong Kong Institute of Architects Annual Awards 2016/2017 is a stunning example of minimalism meets the future. With a metallic sheen and plastic transparent box cover, the book would stand out anywhere and make people take notice.
The inner pages layout is probably a little standard and not too exciting but then we have to keep in mind this book was designed to celebrate the excellence of architects and hence has to be somewhat conservative.

6. The pleasure of beer

Background: Created by Roberto Fidale this manual is for those who want to learn more about beer. It is a journey through the main brewing cultures, including the Italian brewing history. With stories of the most famous international brands in the world of beer, the book takes you on a journey from the Trappist abbeys of Belgium to the pubs and breweries of the new London scene, from the places where the American artisan revolution was born to the centuries-old brassica traditions of Bamberg.
Design Notes: The book is quite bright with interesting visuals, a nice layout, and typography. The hand-drawn and woodcut drawings break the dense content into interesting sections. It includes notes about grain, brewing equipment, the process and even how to pour Easy Beer Club Logo Design & Brandinga proper pint of beer!

7. Petite Passport

Background: PetitePassport began as an online platform and has been a widely referenced travel sites for well-heeled travelers going for well-designed spaces. The inspiration comes from passport and visa stamps that are key signature elements applied across the collaterals. These series of books were designed by Foreign Policy.

Design Notes: I love travel books because I love to travel. With so much online information about travel, one would think that perhaps travel books are headed for extinction. But the fact is that they are thriving and would not die out any time soon. Most travel books are quite cluttered when it comes to their design and aesthetics. But these series of books are simple, elegant and pleasing to look at. The cover designs are simple and the inner layout is easy on the eye.

8. Da Vinci - Ladies Portraits

Background: This beautiful book is a volume compiled by Sandy Migliore on a study of numerous scientists and specialists in art, particularly paintings of portraits of women that made Leonardo da Vinci. This book was designed by Creanet.

Design Notes: I love travel books because I love to travel. With so much online information about travel, one would think that perhaps travel books are headed for extinction. But the fact is that they are thriving and would not die out any time soon. Most travel books are quite cluttered when it comes to their design and aesthetics. But these series of books are simple, elegant and pleasing to look at. The cover designs are simple and the inner layout is easy on the eye.

9. Post-foundational Political Theory — Book Cover Series

Background: Book series exploring new ways to understand politics through the lens of the most important thinkers of the 21st century. The collection consists of 15 books but only 5 have been published and designed so far. The idea is to reduce the core idea of each book into a single icon and color. This series of books was designed by Studio Carreras.

Design Notes: Books on politics tend to be stuffy, boring and quite one dimensional. This series of books are quite the opposite. They are bright, iconic, and look like fun. The designer chose a single icon and color to represent each concept of the book. Although, initially, the symbols may make the books look like they are related to the subject of mathematics, in the larger context, they do make sense.

10. UNI:VERSE 2012

Design Notes: This slick looking book was designed by MOOI design and has all the hallmarks of a commercially successful book. You may think that is quite a vague definition and cannot be qualified. But I base that opinion on my years of experience working on book cover design, publishing books and with authors in general.
This book was designed for the Art University of Linz and showcases, beautiful use of colors, shapes, layout, and images. The unusual cover that overlaps the side of the open book is interesting and further enhances the custom design nature of the book.

This list is not exhaustive and is based purely on my personal opinion at this point in time. When my preferences change I will try and update the list. In the meanwhile, if you have any favorite book designs you would like to share, please leave a comment below with a link to the design.