Case Study 100

Title: The Perpetual Paycheck

Author: Lori B. Rassas

Designer: Littera Designs

Genre: Business

Graphics: The symbolism of the hundred-dollar bills needs no explanation, but it has to be said that this is a dull graphical treatment.

It’s not so much that we’re seeing currency rather than paychecks (which would go better with the title). It’s that the bills aren’t interesting in themselves, individually or as a group.

An online search for “stack of falling currency” yields many images that not only look more motion-filled than the one used here but that would occupy the upper portion of the cover more fully.

These seven bills show the motion of falling leaves, not the motion of a heap of money falling into a worker’s hands. The bills are too spread apart to give the sense of a continual, strong income, which is what the author seems to be holding out to readers as a live possibility.

Typography: This is one of those rare covers on which red text works. The key is that the red letters are set against a light background, in this case yellow. None of that red-on-blue stuff that one can find too many examples of in certain genres, at least in fiction. The misuse of red is rare on non-fiction covers.

The title is easy on the eyes: a simple sans serif font for text enlarged as far as it will go without intruding on the cover’s edges.

The author name is in the same font as the title and is even easier to read, since it’s black. The letters have been kerned widely, to stretch the name to match the length of the longest word in the title, “Perpetual.” This works well. Fortunately, the author name is kept sufficiently far from the lower edge, keeping it from looking cramped.

The text that has a problem is the lengthy subtitle. If something seems awry, it’s because something is. The second and third lines have letters that are kerned more widely than those of the first line. Was this done so those lines wouldn’t look short in comparison to the first line? If so, then it was a needless worry.

When the lines are set with varying letter-spacing, the eye stumbles as it reads along. It’s important to keep each unit of the cover—title, author name, and subtitle—internally consistent.

Step back from the monitor and look at the cover. The three blocks of text look bottom-heavy. They seem pushed together. It would have been better to leave more space between each element, adding about the height of each subtitle line both above and below the subtitle. That would push the title up to about the top of the lower-left hundred-dollar bill, but that would be fine. The graphic easily enough can be adjusted to accommodate the text—which shouldn’t overlay any of the bills because that only makes the red letters harder to read.

Overall: The cover leaves no doubt about the book’s genre or its promises. The subtitle in particular includes key words that people looking for new jobs likely would use in search engines. All that is to the good.

The text needs adjustment, though not much; the graphic needs replacement. Fortunately, there is much similar stock art to choose from.