Book Cover design trends in 2020

We start 2020 by looking at the trends in book cover design that we think will shape and define the year!

Climate Change & Dystopia
Concerns about the climate emergency are being explored in fiction, with many sci-fi titles using environmental collapse as a dystopian backdrop. Devastated landscapes and flooding are powerful motifs.

Black Background and complex still life
Some of the most striking and intriguing covers we’ve seen in recent months use complex still life concepts.
Plant and animal motifs are often set against black backgrounds, sometimes with hints of Art Nouveau styling.

We’ve seen many examples of duality in book cover design. This can include contrasting colours, mirror images and paired faces.
These techniques can suggest people or concepts being linked, as opposites or in unison.

Black and White
Black and white compositions always stand out strongly, making use of high contrast. The timeless quality of black and white imagery pairs well with many genres, from commercial thrillers to literary fiction.

70’s and 80’s
The fashions, styles and colour palettes of the 1970s and 80s have been very noticeable in book cover design recently, with the era being explored in both fiction and non-fiction.

Glitch Effect
Glitch effects have been a recurring trend over the past few years, and we’re still seeing plenty of examples. These covers often evoke technology, surveillance, or things being not quite as they seem.

Women Minorities
The publishing industry continues to make efforts to explore more diverse stories and minority voices. We are seeing more and more instances of women of colour appearing on book covers as a result.

Nordic Noir
Scandinavian crime fiction continues to be very popular. Bleak Nordic landscapes feature heavily, with an emphasis on emptiness and isolation.

Mysterious Figures
Mysterious figures are a staple of thriller cover design, but we have seen many new examples in the espionage genre. There are echoes of both film noir and Cold War-era styles.

Family Relations
Designers are always on the lookout for images depicting family relationships across. Parents, children, siblings and multi-generational groups will always be in demand.
Both period and contemporary costumes are needed.

Frequently-Searched Subjects
When we look at what clients search for on the Arcangel website, certain terms appear very regularly…

  • The 1920s (People and locations).
  • The 1940s & 1950s (People and locations).
  • Dark / atmospheric houses with a single light on.
  • Water.
  • Large detached houses and villas.
  • Groups of people, including family and social gatherings.
  • European cities – Paris, Rome, Berlin, London.
  • US culture and lifestyle – streets, houses, city scenes, Americana.
  • Middle Eastern culture – lifestyle, streets, landmarks, architecture.

Click to download the full report.