Session 14 – Cover Grids (18.02.16)

Cover grids enter into a more mathematical mode of book production. Adhering to specific dimensions is essential when it comes to working out the size of the book’s jacket and cover flaps, if applicable. The reason for this is simply due to the size of a book differing depending on what type of book it is; for example, a picture book will have a very small spine and larger, wider front and back covers compared to that of a fiction book which will usually have a more compact size and wider spine. As Becky Chilcott explained in the session, to determine the size of the spine you need to know the number of pages in the book.
I learnt today that books are bound in multiples of 16 and are always set with a bleed. This is the extra 5mm used for trimming a book cover when printing. Crucial elements to a cover design should not be less than 5mm to the edge in case it gets cut. Below, these pictures show the basic dimensions a book may have; the front and back flaps are those mainly associated with hardbacks.



Using grids a means of producing designs for books first started by Polish freelance designer Romek Marber as he ‘conceived a grid layout for Penguin book covers that became one of the most praised and recognised layouts of all time’ (Book Design Blog). Due to its relevance in book production even now, his relevance to publishing is easily acknowledgeable. Below is a classic Merber grid layout:

Marber Grid Penguin Book Cover Design

Today, Adobe InDesign is the application which does most of the leg work for you. However, you still need to set the dimensions in yourself, thus making it mathematical due to the necessity of knowing the dimensions you need for a specific book in advance. Therefore, we experimented with basic cover designs using cover grids and after a while I was able to produce a basic front cover with a bleed. Using Photoshop to create the design I wanted, I transferred this into InDesign, fitting it within the grids. I now feel more assured having practised this that I can produce a cover design for the assignment later in the module so this makes me feel optimistic going into next week.


Book Design Blog. A Brief History of the ‘Marber Grid’ – The layout that changed book covers forever, Book Design Blog. [accessed: 20.02.16].

Eye Magazine (2004) Penguin Crime, Eye Magazine.



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