Coffee Table Book Design: 10 Examples to Inspire You

POSTED ON Dec 28, 2023

Elena Rapovets

Written by Elena Rapovets

Home > Blog > Book Typography, Cover Design, Interior Design > Coffee Table Book Design: 10 Examples to Inspire You

Coffee table book design differs from regular book design in several aspects. But first, let’s talk more about what exactly a coffee table book is. Honestly, it’s all in the name.

A coffee table book is a beautiful publication whose job is to look pretty on a coffee table! You can often see these books in interior design showrooms, but decoration isn’t their only function. Coffee table books feature large, high-quality photographs, illustrations, and unique designs. They can cover various topics, reflecting the owner’s interests, and serve as conversation starters.

Coffee table books can also be considered works of art. It’s not a publication you need to read to learn new information, but one that sends you on a sensual journey of amazing imagery and tactile sensations. These pieces make amazing gifts, their prices typically gauging from $30 to $150.

Coffee Table Book Design Tips

Features that make coffee table books distinct from other types are:

  • Visual focus. This type of book features high-resolution, visually striking images: photographs, illustrations, and artworks. The images often take up a whole page, with short text providing relevant information. 
  • Size. Coffee table books are often larger than regular publications, which allows them to include detailed, high-quality images. 
  • Typography. The choice of fonts and typography is essential in coffee table book design. The text needs to be readable and complement the imagery without overpowering it. 
  • Layout. The layout of a coffee table book is carefully crafted to balance text and images. It often includes large spreads of photos, creative use of white space, and a layout that engages the reader through the content. 
  • High-quality materials. Coffee table books usually use high-quality, thick paper with a glossy or matte finish. Hardcover bindings are the most common, providing durability and an extra aesthetic element.

Coffee table books explore various subjects such as art, travel, movies, cooking, and music. Many specialize in niche topics, for example, the history of a specific town, the wildlife of a particular area, or specific crafts or artisan techniques. 

Authors of these generally collaborate with photographers and artists, creating works that are not only informative but also visually appealing. The result is engaging art pieces that draw you in and encourage exploration. Let’s have a look at them.

nonfiction book outline template

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel Book Cover

This book is dedicated to pictures of dogs underwater, with a vibrant and energetic style that focuses on the unexpected and delightful moments of dogs jumping into pools.

The layout emphasizes large, full-page color photographs. The text is minimal, primarily consisting of captions for the photos.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton Book Cover

This collection features street portraits and personal stories from various people in New York City. It combines candid photography with storytelling, creating visual and emotional portraits of New Yorkers.

The publication mixes color and black-and-white photographs with accompanying text, usually a quote or a short story from the person featured. The layout balances the visual and textual elements with clear and readable typography.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton Book Interior
Source
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton Book Interior
Source

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton Book Cover

This is a collection of the world’s strangest and most interesting places. It shows off travel spots that are not well-known or usual, making it a great find for people who love adventures and discovering new things.

The volumes provide a lot of text information about each location and photos, maps, and drawings. The layout is diverse, with full-page spreads and smaller images with descriptions. The publication is text-heavy, giving details, interesting facts, and tips for travelers.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton Book Interior
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton Book Interior

Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu Book Cover

This cookbook presents a collection of traditional Japanese recipes with photographs of meals and ingredients. The simple and elegant style reflects the key features of Japanese cuisine.

The cover looks and feels like it’s made from bamboo, making it unique. Extensive text provides detailed recipes, culinary techniques, and insights into Japanese food culture. Straightforward typography and uncluttered layout allow the food photography to stand out.

Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu Book Interior
Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu Book Interior

nonfiction book outline template

The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by JJ Pursell

The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by JJ Pursell Book Cover

This detailed guide about 100 healing herbs explains what they do, how to use them, and how to make natural remedies. It has information about herbal medicine and practical tips for using herbs.

Inside, you’ll find clear pictures and drawings of herbs with easy explanations. It has informative text and uses clean and organized typography.

The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by JJ Pursell Book Interior
The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by JJ Pursell Book Interior

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee Book Cover

Alan Lee’s sketchbook is a detailed exploration of the artistic process behind the trilogy of the same name. It features Lee’s sketches and paintings of Middle-earth’s landscapes, characters, and architecture.

This hardcover volume is printed on high-quality art paper to highlight the details of each sketch and painting. The layout varies between full-page illustrations and smaller drawings, each with Lee’s commentary. The elegant typography complements the artistic contents.

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee Book Interior
Source
The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook by Alan Lee Book Interior
Source

Anime Architecture by Stefan Riekeles

Anime Architecture by Stefan Riekeles Book Cover

Anime Architecture presents a unique fusion of architectural design and anime art. It explores how various anime films imagine and portray buildings and urban environments.

The publication features a range of architectural drawings, concept art, and stills from anime. The typography and layout are tailored to enhance the visual content.

Anime Architecture by Stefan Riekeles Book Interior
Anime Architecture by Stefan Riekeles Book Interior

Tom Ford by Tom Ford and Bridget Foley

Tom Ford by Tom Ford and Bridget Foley Book Cover

Tom Ford is a catalog of high fashion showcasing Tom Ford’s transformative influence on Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent from 1994 to 2004. This publication is one of the most popular coffee table books and can often be seen in settings like luxury boutiques and celebrities’ homes.

The design includes a hardcover publication and a protective outer case (slipcase). The design is known for its sophisticated and luxurious presentation and elegantly crafted layout. The sleek cover makes it both a fashion statement and a piece of art.

Tom Ford by Tom Ford and Bridget Foley Book Interior
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Tom Ford by Tom Ford and Bridget Foley Book Interior
Source

1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs

1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs Book Cover

A collection of music album covers focusing on the rock and pop era from the 1960s to the 1990s. Full-color covers through the years take readers on a nostalgic visual journey.

The focus is highly visual, with simple text giving information about albums and artists. The typography is minimalistic and clean, highlighting the album art.

1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs Book Interior
1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs Book Interior

Dalí Pop-Ups by Courtney Watson McCarthy

Dalí Pop-Ups by Courtney Watson McCarthy Book Cover

Dalí Pop-Ups brings Salvador Dalí’s surrealistic art into a new dimension through intricate pop-up designs. Each spread offers a three-dimensional pop-up of Dalí’s iconic works. This provides an immersive experience of Dalí’s surreal world.

The design combines pop-up paper engineering with Dalí’s fantastical elements. The typography and layout are artistic yet readable, focusing on the pop-up features. The cover features one of the most famous Dalí’s paintings, The Persistence of Memory.

Dalí Pop-Ups by Courtney Watson McCarthy Book Interior
Dalí Pop-Ups by Courtney Watson McCarthy Book Interior

Getting Started with Your Coffee Table Book

Creating a coffee table book is an exciting journey that you, as a writer, might consider embarking on. And why not? Your unique perspective and creativity make you a good candidate for a coffee table book author. If you have many ideas but aren’t sure about your design skills, consider collaborating with an artist or a photographer.

Once you know your theme and audience, consider what visuals best tell your story. With the right blend of engaging content and stunning visuals, your brainchild can become the next most popular coffee table book.

nonfiction book outline template

Elena Rapovets

Written by
Elena Rapovets

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