The Quest for the Perfect Cover
No wonder that the cover is a complicated puzzle. But all these qualities are essential, so they must be borne in mind when the inevitable arguments arise.
Four reasons not to judge your cover on-screen:
1. The screen is the wrong size, no matter how big it is. You can’t see it intimately as if it were in your hands.
2. It lacks scale because it is isolated in its own magic electronic world, so you have nothing real to compare it to. You can only guess at type sizes and hope they’re OK.
3. It glows in vivid colors that will inevitably turn disappointingly dull when printed in ink. A hard-copy printout may be closer.
4. Worst of all, it is virtual. It is just an illusory likeness of the physical paper product that your potential buyer will ultimately be holding. If you are producing magazines on paper, think and remain conscious of “paperness” all the time.
Four ways to judge your cover:
1. Covers are the prime sales tool that must be judged realistically both for content as well as form (i.e., what they show and how they show it). Never trim a printout, mount it beautifully, and display it with its alternates on the finely polished surface of the conference-room table. Designers love to do this, because to them, the cover is enormously important (and so it is, but not necessarily for their reasons). That framing, matting and mounting in a formalized presentation cheats you into believing that what you are being shown is “art” that you must judge on aesthetic grounds, liking it or loathing it … “Can we make the type a tad redder?” Few magazines qualify for covers that are “art.”
2. Instead, ask the designer to print out all the alternates as hard copy, trim them accurately to magazine size and glue them onto old issues, so you can see them as close to the real thing as possible. Now, toss them on a tabletop, so they flop around and overlap like real magazines do.
Related story: The 4 Functional Scales of Cover Type