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A lot of UI guides advise against using primary colors as a background for text. I'm in the process of designing covers for a series of 4 books, and I thought it would be good to have a band across the top of the cover that was differently colored for each book. Should I proceed with this idea or move to softer earth tones instead? (this is a print book as well as an ebook)

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Background: The plan is to reserve the top 30% of the cover for this color band. I'm thinking of using green for the first book, then red, blue and yellow (I know, green isn't technically a primary color). The front title and the top paragraph of the back cover blurb will reside inside this color band, so the text can't be hard or painful to read. We're planning on using black text on red and yellow, white text on blue and green.

These are technical books, not novels, so I'm not trying to push an overly artistic design, but thought that the bold, primary-esque color choices would establish a strong association between each book and its color. Over time, readers might even look up to the shelf and grab the "red book" or the "green book" rather than think about the title.

I'm not an expert on background colors, text colors or other design issues so I might have come up with a foolish idea here. If so, please show me the error of my ways.

  • Hey Friedman. This question seems a bit opinionated as is for me, though there is definitely some fact base for answers. Could you try to format your question to fit our critique guidelines? – Zach Saucier Mar 19 '16 at 14:33
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There's no rules about how you should use your colors for a cover. If there's one thing you should keep in mind is where that book be sold and make sure the titles are easy to read.

One example, if you plan to sell this book in library, a lot of these books only have the top 1/3 of the cover visible on the shelf! For this reason, it's sometimes a good idea to make sure the title is clearly visible in the top part. Your draft is right for that purpose. If you sell online then it's not something you need to worry about but it doesn't hurt to think long term.

I'm guessing the UI recommendation is regarding the use of full colored background inside the book, where the text body and the content are. There's many reasons for this: it's hard to read, some people with vision issues might not see the contrast well and... it will be expensive to print as well!

Your idea is not foolish at all, that's actually a nice concept to use these colors in a series. It's a classic and there's many different red-green-blue to choose from. And indeed, it also serves a practical purpose as you explained and will make each book easy to identify quickly.

I see absolutely no problems with your idea!

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