Redesign Your Favorite Book Cover with Adobe InDesign

Students redesign a book cover
1:00

About This Strategy

In this 5+ hour strategy, students create a cover design for a book using Adobe InDesign. Students communicate the book’s characters, setting, story, or theme through visual choices and design principles intended to sell the book. Students may each choose a favorite, or the class may work with the same text and compare the variety of choices made.

Because InDesign enables students to create professional and unique designs for both print and digital display, this strategy empowers students to champion their favorite book. You can adapt this strategy to multiple disciplines, and students can work individually or in small groups. This strategy can also be adapted for use with other Adobe products, such as Adobe Spark Page.

Supporting Tools and Resources

  • Student sample
  • Adobe InDesign

  • Adobe Spark Page

  • Editable Resource Bundle

  • PDF Resource Bundle

Outline for Teachers

300 minutes

Analyze.

Students analyze the design choices made in the current cover and brainstorm changes. (15-30 minutes)

Identify.

Students identify elements of the book that might lend themselves to an interesting design. (15-30 minutes)

Apply.

Students apply principles of graphic design to their notes by sketching potential designs. (30 minutes)

Collect.

Students gather or create any resources they may need, such as images, blurbs, and synopsis. (30+ minutes)

Create.

Students create their book cover using InDesign. Students can follow these steps to create their document. They may examine an example here or here. (2+ hours)

Reflect. 

Students reflect on their design choices and how they convey information about the text while being visually appealing. Students write a short, ~500-word explanation. (30-60 minutes)

Share.

Students export their covers as PDF and share with the class.  (10 minutes)

Steps for Students

Try your hand at redesigning the cover of your favorite book using Adobe InDesign. Think about the characters, setting, story, themes and/or energy of your favorite book and how to communicate that with an audience through a carefully designed showpiece. Export your completed assignment as a PDF and discuss your design decisions with the class. 

Because InDesign is versatile, you can design creative and professional-looking book covers that shine in any portfolio.

Steps:

1. Select a book you would like to work with. Begin brainstorming what you would change from the current design and why. (15-30 minutes)

  • Why does this book deserve a new cover? 

  • Analyze what the current fonts, images, design elements, and text say about the contents inside. What does the current cover convey? 

  • What is working well with the old design? What isn’t? 

2. Identify elements of the book and how they might translate into a compelling design: (15-30 minutes)

  • Consider the characters, setting, story, motifs, themes, tone, mood, or pacing of the text. Will you highlight one of these elements on the cover, or a combination?

  • How literal or conceptual should the cover be? 

  • Should the cover center on an image? Or should typography be more of the focus?

  • What colors might fit with the tone and mood of the text?

3. Sketch your new cover first. As you work, consider how you use graphic design to convey information: (30 minutes)

  • emphasis, 

  • contrast, 

  • balance, 

  • alignment, 

  • proximity, 

  • color, 

  • proportion, 

  • and consistency. 

For a refresher on elements of graphic design, visit Adobe’s YouTube design playlist.  Specifically, consider watching these videos: Emphasis and Contrast, Understanding Color, and Understanding Visual Balance. 

You may want to review the rubric to see how your new book cover will be assessed. You can also review this student sample or this one to jumpstart your ideas.

4. Create or gather any resources you will need for your book cover. These may include images featured in the central design, images of award stickers or the publisher’s mark, fonts, blurbs, a synopsis, or a description of impact of the book. Often students write their own blurbs and synopsis. (30+ minutes)

You can search Adobe Stock or Creative Commons for images and graphics to use, or create and use your own images and graphics. Save all of these to the same folder you will be working out of, that way all of your assets  are together before you dive in to creating. 

Consider which fonts will work best with your book and make sure they are downloaded on your computer before you begin.

5. Create an InDesign document that has a front cover (most likely 6” x 9”), spine (.5” x 9”), and back cover (matching the size of the front cover 6” x 9”) and .125” bleeds on all sides. Here is a basic template. If your book is particularly thick, the size of a coffee table book, or has a special design element such as French flaps, you will want to adjust these suggested measurements as needed. (2+ hours)

If you need it, here’s a tutorial on how to create a new document, but do not use a stock template. Once you  have the document set up, dive into designing!

For more guidance on using Adobe InDesign, check out these steps or this helpful site.

6. Reflect on your design choices and how they convey information about the text while being visually appealing. Write a short, ~500-word essay detailing these choices and why you made them. Be sure to support your ideas by citing passages from the text and applying concepts or materials addressed in class. (30-60 minutes)

7. Export your finished work as a PDF and  share your book cover and reflective essay as directed by your instructor.

Rubric for Successful Analysis

Consult the attached rubric in order to evaluate students' book covers.