A book cover used to be something you’d notice on a table, or in a window display. It would usually be the product of a professional artist, in conjunction with a team of publicists, editors, designers, and authors. Wattpad has democratized the world of cover design, removing the barriers to entry and encouraging collaboration. Wattpadders as young as 13 can create entire visually-cohesive collections, working directly with writers and fellow designers. We surveyed a group of designers in our Multimedia Club where they told us covers can take anywhere from 15 minutes to up to four hours to design.
Fifteen-year-old designer LauraJae has noticed the evolution of design on Wattpad, from something that took inspiration from the world of books, to something more modern and complex. "At first, the community favored covers that actually looked like book covers, and used one image and some slap text. Now the Multimedia Design Club is focused on more manipulated covers that are created using a heavy amount of resources and blending to achieve a more complicated cover." Wendythestoryteller agrees the designs have deviated from what you’ll find elsewhere, “They're not conventional covers. They don't look like the ones you see in the bookstore. The designers use gradients and textures, as well as blending and photo manipulation, to create an image.”
Many Wattpadders get inspiration from deviantART, celebrities, Tumblr graphics, models, fellow Wattpad designers, and artists like Monet and Caravaggio. Minimalism is also on the rise. LiterallyLuke wrote, " I'm a huge fan of the flat design that seems to be becoming a trend across the internet and beyond, so a lot of my inspiration are from vector artists." Amechania agreed," I fell in love with minimalist covers and the fact that they look so simple (but can be complicated to do, especially the vectors)."
The covers represent a perfect synthesis of creativity and collaboration. Writers can communicate directly with artists and artists can design for their favourite writers. Designers can tell a story visually without giving too much away. Cover creator Donadee applauds the look of The Cellar by Natasha Preston, above, "It’s simple yet it portrays that haunting aura that gives you the chills. There is depth in the cover." In a way, the cover has become a profile pic for the story: illustrating the story’s personality, themes, and tone.
With almost 7 million unique covers uploaded, Wattpad offers an illuminating snapshot of visual creativity today. Our reading list, Black & White, offers a cross-section of Wattpad's burgeoning community of cover creators. The stories we’ve featured aren’t black and white; there’s a lot of grey area when you’re reading thrillers, fantasies, romance, horror and fan fiction. But the creativity, craft and attention on display is as stark as night and day.