In writing, form serves function. And books, which are a form of technology (albeit one we take for granted because it's been around quite a while), utilize form to support function just like anything else.
This technology, or art, that allows us to craft books is not new. In fact, books produced during the medieval era already conformed to a well-defined set of rules that publishers today still follow.
There are a lot of conventions in book design, a vocabulary, and a set of best practices that are commonly used by professionals.
Of course, you might wonder why you, an author about to self-publish, should learn these concepts and care so much about design.
Making your book a beautiful product will lead more people to buy it. Plain and simple.
Of course, I’m not saying that design is the only part that matters: a poorly written book might be bought a few times thanks to a great cover but won’t survive poor reviews on Amazon. However, it’s the first step to getting people to grab it on a bookshelf or visit your online product page. As you will often hear, “your cover is your first marketing tool”, so make good use of it!
So is the cover the only bit you should be focusing on?
Well, a nice box with nothing interesting inside would be a bit of a scam: if you manage to get your readers interested with a nice cover, don’t stop halfway. Design your book’s interior so it’s pleasant to read and adds a whole new dimension to your text.
Good design is invisible, bad design ruins everything.
Most people won’t fully realize why they’re enjoying your book so much, but it will in fact make all the difference. When’s the last time you kept a book in your hands and stared at it just because of its intoxicating beauty? It’s this feeling you want to create for your readers.
On the other hand, a poorly designed book will distract readers from enjoying the stories and ideas you share with them, and will forever ruin their experience.