picture book design


Five Ways Book Designers Can Help Publishers Sell Backlist Titles


Publisher’s Weekly reported that backlists are thriving for Children’s Publishers. There are creative ways to breathe life into backlist titles and take advantage of this trend. Book designers are your secret weapon, adapting the original text and art to new purposes. Here’s a few ways we can help you make more of your existing titles and mine the gems in your backlist.

1. Convert a Hardcover to Paperback

Reissuing a title in paperback requires taking care to adapt the text and art to a new trim size. The casewrap will be adapted to new dimensions, the spine is adjusted to accommodate the difference in binding.

Sample project: Auntie Yang’s Soybean Picnic

Auntie Yang’s Soybean Picnic was first released as a hardcover, with art direction and design by NeuStudio for the 2012 frontlist. The title was converted to paperback in fall of 2017. We resized the casewrap for the paperback trim size and adjusted the spine, put in the new ISBN barcode. Promotional copy was added to the inside of the cover sheet, taking advantage of space available in a paperback that was the paste-down end papers in hardcover edition. Printing the promotional copy in black ink only saves printing costs.

hardcover to paperback conversion example
hardcover to paperback conversion example

2. Translate a Title into Another Language

A translated title will have a new word count, and requires reflowing the text into the existing layout. Often the length of the text varies significantly from the English, so adjustments need to be made to the font size or page count. If the text is black and doesn’t overprint any images, you might be able to save printing costs by changing only the black printing plate.

Sample project: Summer of the Mariposas

This Tu Books YA title was translated into Spanish. We adapted the existing designs to the new language. The text ran longer than the English language edition, and required careful resizing and reflowing. Since the Spanish title is both more characters and a different case than the English, we adapted the type treatment for fit and consistency.


3. Update the Design and Illustrations

An older title can be refreshed with a new cover design, especially if you are aiming the book at a different market than the market targeted when the title was first published. The interior can be updated with a new font, layout and colors. Sometimes older artwork is not available. Using a printed book for original art isn’t ideal, but it can be done successfully by softening ink rosettes and adjusting colors.

Sample project: The People Shall Continue

The People Shall Continue was released 40 years after its original printing. We redesigned the cover to reflect the anniversary of the first printing. The original art wasn’t available, so NeuStudio worked with art from a scanned copy of the book, removing ink dots in photoshop and updating the backgrounds and colors. We created 2 new pieces of artwork in the style of the illustrator.

update book design and illustrations

4. Issue a Co-Branded Edition

If you decide to work with a third party to release a backlist title, they will want to add their branding. Often companies such as the PJ Library have strict requirements for placement of their logo and other elements on the cover and interior of a co-branded title. A book designer will review the requirements and find the best way to incorporate them into the books existing design.

Sample project: Kayla and Kugel’s Almost Perfect Passover, PJL Edition

PJ Library shares Jewish Culture and values through selected children’s books. Behrman House approached us to take their existing book design and adapt it to PJ Library’s specifications. The charity requires changes to the front cover (PJ Library logo), back cover (in this case, partner information) and the inside flaps of a book jacket. For the interior, we redesigned the title page to include PJ Library’s “This Book Belongs to” bookplate graphic.


5. Make a Boxed Set

Group together similar titles and create a boxed set. The book covers can be redesigned to have common design elements, but that’s not necessary. Book designers take the books elements, such as cover type treatment and art, and leverage interior art to adapt the book’s branding to shape of the box. Boxed sets aimed at children must be reviewed for safety.

Sample project: Fly Guy Phonics

For this set, illustrations by Tedd Arnold were repurposed for a set of books with educational value based on his popular character and the existing branding for the books series. NeuStudio adapted the interior layouts for Scholastic by picking up art form a range of titles and making new designs for both the storybooks and the workbooks. We created an appealing box that fit the manufacturer’s requirements using the illustrations and typography from the books.


Do you have a backlist title you’d like to see get a boost?

Contact us! At NeuStudio we have successfully updated and adapted backlist titles for all kinds of repurposing.

We’d be happy to discuss your project, just fill out the form below.