Book Design

5 Must-Read Books for Book Designers

Book designers have the unique job of seeing the big picture while also focusing on the tiny details, both in terms of design and in terms of technical knowledge. Book design can be so detailed, that if you’re new to book design, it may seem overwhelming to know exactly which details to pay attention to. Which details make or break the design?

For designers starting out (or expanding their knowledge) in book design, or for authors curious about what this craft is all about, here are 5 excellent books:


Books for Book Designers

1. Book Design Made Simple

by Fiona Raven and Glenna Collett

Written by two very experienced book designers, this book is a valuable (and simple to understand!) resource for step-by-step book creation. Revised as a second edition in 2017, the book is relevant to current design standards and shows up-to-date tutorials in InDesign.

For even more up-to-date tutorials and tips, visit the book’s website at

Recommended for: new designers, experienced designers looking for new pro tips, and indie authors looking for a simple (but in-depth) DIY explanation for professional book creation

Find it on Amazon


Books for Book Designers

2. Book Construction Blueprint: Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books

by Joel Friedlander

This is a great resource for new designers and authors looking for expert advice on book creation. While ebook publishing is usually an indie author’s go-to, creating print books seems to be more complicated and mysterious. This book demystifies the process and even offers advice for printing and working with design professionals.

Joel Friedlander’s highly popular blog,, is another great resource for all things indie publishing. In fact, it was Joel’s blog that first introduced me to the ins and outs of book design. Before stumbling upon it years ago, I did not even realize that book design was a profession! Thank you, Joel, for introducing me to a whole new direction in life.

Recommended for: indie publishers looking for DIY explanations, new book designers, and seasoned designers (there’s always something to learn)

Find it on Amazon


Books for Book Designers

3. Aspects of Contemporary Book Design

by Richard Hendel

A more advanced discussion of book design, this one delves deeper into the details and philosophy of book design as an art. A good balance between theory and practical advice, the book also presents interviews with accomplished designers, describing how they approach and practice their craft.

The book also gives separate attention to the differing design approaches for fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, poetry, plays, illustrated books, and more.

Recommended for: the serious professional designer looking to improve his or her craft

Find it on Amazon


Books for Book Designers

4. Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students

by Ellen Lupton

Not exactly about book design, this one focuses on typography as a form of communication. Since that’s the core of book and print design, this is a must-read for designers.

From the Amazon description: “Thinking with Type is the definitive guide to using typography in visual communication, from the printed page to the computer screen. This revised edition includes forty-eight pages of new content, including the latest information on style sheets for print and the web, the use of ornaments and captions, lining and non-lining numerals, the use of small caps and enlarged capitals, as well as information on captions, font licensing, mixing typefaces, and hand lettering.”

Recommended for: new and seasoned book designers wishing to expand their knowledge of typography and visual communication

Find it on Amazon


Books for Book Designers

5. The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design (Classic Typography Series)

by Jan Tschichold

Recommended to me by an award-winning book designer, friend, and mentor, this book is a valuable read for anyone working with print and typography. Some may say this one is old-fashioned, but it’s an important classic nonetheless. Tools and software may change over time, but the principles of design are timeless.

Recommended for: professional and aspiring book designers

Find it on Amazon



Are you writing a book?

Color Palette Inspiration for Book Designers

If you’ve worked with a book designer, you might have wondered: Do book designers have inside jokes?

Beyond arguing about the differences between Helvetica and Helvetica Neue (true story—we didn’t have many deadlines that week), what do book designers talk about?

Ok, all kidding aside, this is a very interesting link for color ideas. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box color inspiration, check out the color palettes curated at

A project by artist and designer Ryan McGuire, this website curates color palettes based on masterpieces of the world’s greatest artists.

Next time you are looking for colors for your book cover, try experimenting with some of these color combinations. It can be a great way to incorporate some of the old masters into a new work. How cool would it be to say, this book cover is based on Degas? Or Escher? Gauguin?

This gives design a whole new (hidden-meaning-awesomeness) kind of feeling.



Are you writing a book?

Get a professionally designed cover and interior. We’re ready to help!

(Who knows, we might just use these color inspirations in your design to make it extra special!)


Advanced e-book Design: 3 CSS Tips & Tricks for Reflowable e-books

e-book Design Tips and Tricks

Level: Advanced

Prerequisite: knowledge of CSS and HTML eBook formatting


If you’re an avid e-book reader (or e-book designer), you might have noticed that some e-books look much better than others. Even though we do not always have control over the appearance of text in the various e-book readers on the market, there are a few CSS tricks that can make eBooks look nicer and easier to read.

Here are 3 tips to make e-books beautiful:

1. Disable hyphens on headers and titles

Hyphens are difficult to avoid, especially since every e-reader interprets text differently. While it’s wise to keep hyphenation on body text, the hyphenation of titles and headers can look pretty awkward.

What can you do to force-disable hyphenation on titles and headers?

a. Assign a class or ID to the headers/titles in your HTML editor of choice. (We use Sigil.)

b. Create a style for this class or ID in the CSS stylesheet.

c. Add this CSS:

element {
    adobe-hyphenate: none;
    -webkit-hyphens: none;
    -moz-hyphens: none;
    -ms-hyphens: none;
    -epub-hyphens: none;
    hyphens: none;

This works for ePub2, EPUB3, and Kindle. After adding this, check your e-book on iBooks and the Kindle App. Are the headers and titles previewing correctly without hyphenation? (Also, always make sure to validate your epub after adding any new code.)

Code credit:


2. Remove spaces from the ellipses

Many editors prefer formatting the ellipsis with spaces. As in: ( . . . ). Space dot space dot space dot space. This looks nice on the printed page, but in the e-book it can wreak havoc. The last thing you want to have is the ellipsis split over two lines. Since the e-book reader does not recognize this as a symbol, it will split the dots apart as if it were individual characters (which, with spaces, they are.)

What are the solutions?

a. Remove the spaces! This is the easiest way to fix the issue. If you use Sigil, you can auto-search all ( . . . ) and replace them with (…). It might be best to go through these one by one, as an auto replace-all can do some damage if you’re not careful.

b. Use the HTML tag for an ellipsis: …  (You can likewise use auto-replace with this one.)

c. If you are using MS Word to create your e-book, the ellipsis characters will (usually) transfer automatically as Word changes all ( . . . ) into an ellipsis character.

d. Note: wrapping the dots in a no-break HTML tag (<nobr></nobr>) will NOT work. An epub with these tags will not pass validation.


3. Keep headers with “next”

Reflowable e-books are great at…flowing! Depending on your e-reader screen size, font size, etc., the text can flow in a lot of different ways. Oftentimes, the body text will flow away from the heading or subheading above it. This is ok, but avoiding orphan headings is better.

How do you keep headings and subheadings with their corresponding text?

After setting up the correspond HTML classes, add this CSS to define your heading elements:

element {
page-break-after: avoid;


The e-reader will avoid creating a page break after the corresponding heading, keeping it with a few lines of the next text.

Happy e-book-ing!


Image Credit: The image used in this blog post depicts the e-book version of A Children’s House by Alanna F. Bree. To see more of our design work on this book, visit the Portfolio page. Book text is copyright by Alanna F. Bree. To read the full book, find it on Amazon here. Spoiler alert: it’s a wonderful, heartfelt story.