Case Study 10

Title: The Legacy: Dax

Author: G. G. Atcheson

Designer: Yanik Dallaire

Genre: Science fiction

Graphics: This cover was designed by the author’s son, as were the covers of the three other books in the series. Of the four covers, this is the least satisfactory in terms of graphics.

The entire page is surrounded by what at first seems to be a black border but on inspection turns out to be an image of a star field. If a cover is chiefly white or a very light pastel, it may be necessary to use a thin black border so the cover won’t appear to be floating when viewed at thumbnail size at Amazon. But when a cover’s background is as vividly colored as this one, a border is superfluous; if it does anything, it draws attention away from the main image, which is not desirable.

As for the main image, consisting of planets and moons, one can say that it fits the genre well, but the spacecraft appears to be plastered atop an otherwise complete picture. The water, the sky, and the celestial bodies all have a slight indistinctness to them, a little haziness, but the spacecraft is sharp in its outline and details. Perhaps it was part of the original image; perhaps it was overlaid later. Whichever the case, it looks like an afterthought.

Typography: Let’s start with the title. This is the prequel in a series of four books. Each is titled The Legacy. In the author’s use, after a colon comes the distinguishing part of the title: FateDestinyDoom, and, here, Dax. Thus we have The Legacy:Dax. (I can’t tell what Dax means, but it’s not in parallel with the three other terms.)

On each of the covers the distinguishing word is small, while the common part, The Legacy, is large. When the covers are set next to one another, as at the author page at Amazon, it seems that the books have the same title or that one book was given several different covers.

It would be better to name the books something like Fate: Book 1 of The LegacyDestiny: Book 2 of The LegacyDoom: Book 3 of The Legacy, and Dax: Prequel to The Legacy. That kind of thing. The single word before the colon should be larger than the rest of the title and should be on its own line, and, of course, the colon itself wouldn’t appear. This arrangement would indicate that the books are part of a series while emphasizing the chief word.

So much for the words themselves. Now let’s look at their presentation.

There are four fonts, three for the three words of the title and another for the author name. There seldom is a need for more than two fonts on a cover, and this cover certainly doesn’t need four. Even the article (The) gets it own font, for no evident reason. At least it appears undisturbed. The biggest word in the title, Legacy, is in a distressed style, with a white drop shadow added, to give a sense of three-dimensionality. Even this isn’t done well, since the white appears at the left of some letters and at the right of others.

The distinguishing word of the title, Dax, is in an entirely unrelated font. It has a rock-like pattern the color of which is similar to the shadow cast by the spacecraft. Legibility is diminished further by having the bottom parts of the letters hidden in the water.

The font used for the author’s name is unremarkable, but her name also has a white drop shadow. In this case, the light comes from neither side but from the top, so there is an inconsistency with the main title word (which has an internal inconsistency, as mentioned above).

The reason for the drop shadow for the author’s name is that the name hardly would be legible against the multi-colored background. This suggests a wrong choice of font. A thicker but compressed font, with verticals about three times as thick, would be legible without the help of a drop shadow.

Overall: This cover has the hallmarks of an amateur production: poor typography, awkward wording, inconsistent graphics. If the black border were eliminated, the wording altered as suggested above, and the fonts fixed, the cover could rate a grade of B, despite shortcomings in the graphics.