Concept & Design

Coffee table book concept & design

Coffee table books are a powerful marketing tool for luxury brands and it’s easy to understand why customers find them so immediately captivating. With their over-sized formats, stylish photography, beautiful design and high quality print, they deliver the impressive visual experience that these books are known for. But if you’re considering commissioning a coffee table book and want to create a truly lasting impression with your target audience, then your book will need more than beautiful imagery and great design – it will need a good book concept.

The importance of a good coffee table book concept

The coffee table books that we make at SO Books always feature a creative concept, an idea, an overarching message that underpins and influences everything. This big idea – or creative theme – is usually rooted in research-led insight and linked to a company’s objectives. Like any other marketing communication medium, the most powerful pictures and compelling words come from understanding a company’s commercial background and brand strategy – and appeal to a reader’s head and heart.

The coffee table book concept we created for Bombardier is encapsulated in the one word book title – ‘ABOVE’ is the big picture – the goal and vision of Bombardier, as well as the elevated experiences of ownership and flight – (‘ABOVE’, Bombardier Aviation)

Fact finding & book research

Our process to creating a distinctive, well-structured coffee table book starts with fact-finding: the brand, its communication objectives, the rational, emotional and psychological take-outs. Once the fact-finding exercise is complete we draw all our information together to lead initially to an overarching coffee table book concept. This book concept serves as our inspiration for absolutely everything about the book from this point forward – from the book title, narrative, copy structure, pagination and book copywriting, through to the book design.

A good book concept should influence everything

Coffee table book design is much more than simply arranging images and copy on a page. Obviously page layout is key to creating a luxurious looking book, but it is only one element of a much more encompassing design process.

Just as the book concept influences everything to do with the narrative and copywriting, it also massively influences all of the design aspects. From the photography, page layout, fonts, typography and colour palette, through to the book cover design or book box packaging design. A concept’s influence may also be seen in the book printing and packaging – from paper stocks and book covering materials through to specialist printing techniques.

Reveal Rox specialise in quarrying natural stone. The book box packaging we designed feels rough and bumpy to the touch – just like rock. Once the ‘rock’ is cracked open, a beautiful slab of precious stone (the book cover) is revealed. Adorned with a photograph of unusual natural stone, the book cover is high gloss to mimic the look and feel of the real thing – (‘MOVING MOUNTAINS’, Reveal Rox)


If you are considering commissioning a custom coffee table book we would love to help. Please complete the enquiry form at the bottom of this page and we will be delighted to answer any questions you may have.