In an earlier post about the parts of a book, I briefly discussed the book title page:
Title page—Announces the title, subtitle, author, and publisher of the book. Other information that may be found on the title page can include the publisher’s location, the year of publication, or descriptive text about the book. Illustrations are also sometimes included on title pages.
But the book title page is more than just a dry listing of facts. They are often times the most decorative display page in a book, and can be the only location really suitable for expressions of design and graphics, since the rest of the book is devoted to text that transmits the thoughts of the author.
Some consider the book title page one of the least important parts of the front matter. This may be because the first printed books did not have title pages. Typically, the text would begin on the first page, and books were identified by their first words, rather than by a separate title.
Here are the elements that are usually found on the book title page:
- Full title of the book
- Subtitle, if any
- Author’s name
- Editor’s name, in the case of anthologies or compilations
- Translator’s name, for works originally in a different language
- Illustrator or photographer’s name, for illustrated books
- Number of the edition, in the case of revised editions
- Series notice, if part of a series
- Name and location of publisher
- Year of publication
Setting the Tone For the Book
Book title pages have often been the canvas on which authors and book designers have painted a picture of what is to come in the body of the work. Here are three examples of book title pages that incorporate creativity and imagery into the design:
In all three, we see all the required elements of a good book title page: the title, author name, and the publisher name and location. In Fables de Florian, we see the name of the illustrator included on the title page. On the title page for The Life of the Spider, we find the name of the translator, the author of the preface, and the illustrator’s name. And on the title page for Edmund Dulac’s Fairy-Book we find the subtitle and name and location of the publisher.
What really sets these book title pages apart, though, is their creativity. Each one uses imagery that evokes a particular mood and feeling in the reader. It’s clear that Fables de Florian would be appropriate for children given the playful color illustration on its title page. The title page for The Life of the Spider might evoke a bit of fear in arachnophobes, but it’s more realistic illustrations paint it as a serious work. And the whimsical illustrations on the book title page for Fairy-Book give the reader a hint that the stories contained within are likely to delight.
It’s Your Book Title Page—Make the Most of It
When it comes to title pages, you have a lot of leeway for creativity. If you use the same type fonts that are used for the title on the cover, and the text of the interior, you will help integrate the various parts of the book, making for a more harmonious reading experience.
If you have illustrations, artwork from your cover, or an idea of a bold typographic design, the book title page is the place to use it. Just remember to keep all of the information clearly legible and immediately identifiable. There’s no sense including a title page that doesn’t convey the necessary info to your reader.
As long as your book title page conveys basic and necessary information a reader would expect to see, it can be an excellent opportunity to set a visual tone for your book. Don’t be afraid to get creative here!