Book Spine Design

Submitted by YKK on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 23:11
book spine images

Platform – For a book designer:

This “time-saving, quality enhancing tips and techniques for designers” topic is geared towards designing the spine of a book.

Why? What for? Who cares?

Who should care about some skinny book spine? The answer is, YOU SHOULD. You may scoff, but your book spine is an incredibly important feature of your published book.

Figure 1: Graphics website detailing the book spine cover design process

The spine of your book is so much more than the binding strip that holds your pages and front and back covers together. It is even more than a convenient place to put your name and book title, as well. As John Berry says in the webpage, “Putting Some Spine Into Design,” shown above (Figure 1), most of us first judge books by their spine designs. In other words, the spine is the crucial design element that persuades readers to actually get their hands on the book and then judge the front and back covers.


Make your spine design count! For example, below (Figure 2) is an example of a published book by Lisa Shea, showing the entirety of one of her book covers, spine and all:

Figure 2: Image of a book cover—spine and all—from Lisa Shea's website

Shea is an author who has published multiple books, and she is willing to share her own “spine design” tips and techniques with self-publishers. For instance, as Shea states in Figure 2, it is much trickier to design a spine for a slim book. If your book is over one thousand pages, then you have some room to work with, but it might be a good idea to plan for a page count famine, just in case.

You can pay someone to design your book spine for you, or you can do it yourself. Get a rough idea of the spine’s measurements (how long and wide the spine will be in print form). Then, you can use Adobe Photoshop or some other image design software to generate design ideas. The sky is the limit, be do be sure to compare your spine design to your front and back covers. You want them to coordinate!


Here, on the other hand, is an example of what you don’t do:

Figure 3: Image courtesy of BuzzFeed website

As you can see in Figure 3, there is nothing technically “wrong” with the spine cover design. Al of the relevant information is there. However, the text can run together so that the book title seems to say “Brown Kids Are Weird,” so you do need to be careful—even when designing something as innocuous as the spine of your book.

Your book spine is a very important design feature of your book. You put so much effort into already writing, editing, and publishing the book that it would a shame never to see it get off the shelf because of a lackluster spine design.

Remember, your book spine should be the height of efficiency. More than that, it should be utterly riveting. So put some effort into your book spine and be rewarded for it!


Anna Neyman. “26 People Who Managed To Mess Up Their One Job.” BuzzFeed. Accessed April 5, 2016.

John D. Berry. “Putting Some Spine Into Design.” Graphics. Accessed April 5, 2016.

Lisa Shea. “Designing A Book Spine.” Lisa Shea. Accessed April 5, 2016.