If you’ve been to any hip restaurant or coffee shop, or even spent time on social media seeing the homes and favorite haunts of celebrities, you’ll know that decorative books are very much in style.
It’s not hard to see why. Books have a unique look that conveys class, artistry, and even feelings of nostalgia. In a world where we spend more and more of our time looking at screens, there’s something satisfying about the look of a printed tome.
For those of you interested in learning more about decorative books, including the types of book most often considered decorative, as well as practical information on where to create your own decorative book, you’re in the right place!
This guide will give you everything you need to appreciate and creative aesthetically-pleasing decorative books.
What are decorative books?
Decorative books are those which have either the primary or secondary purpose of being pleasing to look at, either in-person or via social media or digital images.
Although there’s no such thing as a single genre of book known as a ‘decorative book’, there are definitely types of book that are more likely to be considered decorative.
What types of books can be considered decorative?
As stated, there are a wide range of different book types that can be considered decorative. However, some types are more widely considered to be aesthetic choices than others. Let’s explore those.
Coffee Table Books
Coffee are large, almost always hardcover books that have expansive and eyecatching images on their cover, spine, and back cover. They are created in a way that is intended to catch the eye and look appealing when displayed in the home in an area such as a coffee table, hence the name!
Coffee table books can be about a wide range of topics but typically focus on those which lend themselves to a book full of attractive images such as architecture, fashion, photographs of live music, or any other linked concepts that can capably fill an entire page with their images.
Art and Photography Books
Art and photography books are great choices for decorative items as they tend to have a striking visual appeal both inside and out. This means they don’t lose their decorative benefits when they are opened, unlike some other types of books.
Books of this type might focus on the work of a single photographer or artist. Or, they might be broader and grouped around a theme such as a particular artistic or photographic style or even some other concept such as a city, country, or particular topic.
Vintage or Antique Books
Vintage and antique books are simply books that are from an earlier time. Vintage books tend to be more recent, such as a couple of decades or so in the past, while antique books are far older and have visibly different styles and materials.
Part of the appeal of vintage and antique books is that their fonts, artwork, and production materials differ so much from the books we have in this day and age.
Leather-bound classics are a special type of decorative book that combine several attractive elements at once. They are often but not always older in age (the exception being leather bound editions of classics printed in modern times). They also have leather binding and covers which have a visual appeal that is not found with modern paperbacks. Finally, due to the fact they have classic and acclaimed book titles and art, they have a cultural clout that newer titles do not.
Collectible editions have visual appeal due to their ability to stand out from the average book someone would have. Their rarity sets them apart. Plus, due to the fact that they are limited-edition, special care and attention has often gone into their design and presentation. This gives them an extra decorative impact.
Artisan or Handmade Books
While the mass printing of books has made them more accessible than ever before to access, that convenience has come at the expense of beautiful, artisanal book design. Artisan editions of books are striking in their appearance, making them a great choice as a decorative item.
Series with Matching Spines
Sometimes, books are decorative due to the way they work in conjunction with other books rather than their solo appeal as an individual volume. For example, if you buy a series of fiction books, their spines will often have a unified design that makes them attractive to display alongside each other.
Some examples are simply books with a cohesive spine in terms of font, placement, and color. Others are more elaborate, such as gradient colors as the series progresses. Some even take things further and form an image or text which is only apparent when the books are placed side by side.
Foreign Language Books
A lot of a book’s decorative appeal comes down to how interesting or rare it is in addition to its purely visual elements. Foreign language books often have entirely different designs, not to mention the visual appeal of a foreign text for the title and blurb. This latter element is especially enhanced in the case of a different alphabet, such as a Japanese or Arabic edition of a book.
Dedicated fans of a particular author or even single book will make a point of collecting as many different foreign language editions as possible. This is an instant conversation starter as well as an appealing visual statement showcasing their interests.
Themed books to compliment a space
Just as books can be decorative due to the way they look when combined with other books, they can also have appeal stemming from the way they combine with a space. Books that either match or contrast with the look of the room they are placed in can work very well. Or, for example, books with a nautical theme displayed in a seafood restaurant have decorative appeal due to the way they align with the space they are placed in.
How do I publish my own decorative books?
Now that you know the types of books widely considered to be decorative, you might feel inspired to create a title of your own. If that’s the case, read on to discover a proven process to write and publish your own decorative book.
Step 1 – Research and gather inspiration
Creating and publishing a book is difficult enough when it’s intended purely for the purpose of reading. When it’s also going to pull double duty as a decorative item, even more thought and care needs to go into the process.
Therefore, it’s essential to research the type of decorative book you want to create. Your research should focus on two main areas.
The first is books which have a similar decorative appeal to that you intend to create. This will give you a feel for the specific look and effect you want to achieve. The second is the viability and cost of your book. For example, if you wanted to have holographic or metallic spine text, you’d need to find a printer capable of fulfilling that need as well as making sure the cost was realistic for your budget.
Step 2 – Brainstorm the type of decorative books you wish to write
Rather than delving straight into the design process, it’s wise to first get all your ideas down on paper so that you can assess them and choose the ones that are most aligned with what you want to achieve. After all, creating a decorative book is time-consuming and costly. It’s therefore crucial to get it right the first time.
Step 3 – Work out the pros and cons of each option
If you’re town between several options for your decorative book project, make a rational comparison of the pros and cons for everything you’re considering. For example, using real leather might make your book look slightly better but the cost might be far higher. You might therefore decide that you can achieve enough of a visual boost with a vintage-style font and layout for a far more affordable price than using real leather would achieve.
Step 4 – Outline, draft, and edit your decorative book
Unless you’re a famous designer or have some kind of existing following, few people are likely to buy your book purely for its decorative effect. Because of this it’s vitally important to ensure that your book is a quality read. You can achieve this through a deliberate and careful process of outlining, drafting, and editing.
Step 5 – Format your book according to the requirements of the print service you will use
The next section of this guide has a list of options you can consider when getting prints of your decorative book. However, each service may have slightly different requirements in terms of format, sizing and so forth. It’s wise to make sure you have a book that can be formatted to meet the different requirements. If you’re not capable of achieving this yourself, it’s worth hiring the services of a book design professional.
Step 6 – Market your decorative book with eye-catching images
After you’ve published your decorative book and had it printed, it’s time to let its decorative appeal really shine. Consider getting professional shots of it displayed either on a bookshelf, on a coffee table, or even being held by a reader with a beautiful display of natural scenery in the background. This kind of visual appeal showcases your decorative choices and allows you to promote your book online.
Where can I print copies of my own decorative books?
Blurb: Blurb offers several options for hardcover books, including image wrap and dust jacket formats. They are also well known for their photo book options, which can work well for coffee table books.
Lulu: Lulu offers hardcover options and also has a specific category for photo books, which could be used to create a coffee table book or another type of decorative book that relies heavily on images.
BookBaby: BookBaby offers hardcover book printing with a variety of options, including dust jackets and casewrap covers. They also offer photo book printing. The ability to choose dust jackets for your book sets BookBaby apart from many rival services and makes it a worthy contender for your decorative book project.
IngramSpark: IngramSpark offers hardcover book printing with a variety of binding and paper options. They’re also known for their wide distribution network. You might not want to rely on Ingram for distribution so weigh up carefully which of their services you need and what other options exist for you.
Mixam: Mixam offers hardcover book printing with a variety of options, including dust jackets, different binding styles, and paper choices. Paper choice is something that is widely overlooked but can create such a positive impact on the reader that it can seriously boost your book’s decorative impact.
Printify: Printify offers hardcover book printing with a variety of customizable options, including cover design and paper choice. Take the tome to compare Printify’s offering in terms of price, features, and speed of print with any other services so you can make the smartest choice that is most aligned with your needs.
Printful: Printful offers a variety of print-on-demand products, including hardcover books. It’s more than possible to create decorative paperback books, especially if they feature complimentary spine designs. But if hardcover is a must for your project then be sure to check out what Printful has to offer.