All Your Cover Art Questions Answered – Part II

Last week we talked about things to consider for cover art in terms of sizes, dimensions, and focus. This week, we’re talking about where to find cover artwork or a cover art designer. 

Designing a cover for a digital publication, especially something that needs to work at different sizes, is an art and not something everyone feels comfortable with. 

If you want to design it yourself:

You’ll need a tool like Photoshop, Acorn, Gimp, or some other image editor.
Think a lot about what’s obvious and what isn’t obvious about your publication. It’s easy to make a cover which reflects the content in a way that readers are familiar with: murder mysteries have blood or knives, westerns have a cowboy on a horse, romance has a damsel in distress, etc. But a great cover captures something about the book that makes the reader think. 

There are many online tutorial videos and courses such as this one on designing a book cover in photoshop: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITe3AfVCGYk

For inspiration, check out sites like http://bookcoverarchive.com/ and http://www.goodreads.com/.

If you find you’re enjoying the cover design work, a good resource is Peter Mendelsund’s Cover, (http://www.amazon.com/Cover-Peter-Mendelsund/dp/1576876675) which came out last year. Mendelsund is one of the most sought-after book cover designers in the world, and Cover, which he released last year, includes completed book jackets, rejected works, and reflections on the art and process of cover design.

If you need some art work:

If you’re drawing a blank, you can also try Amazon’s KDP Cover Creator. Alternately, perhaps it’s time to think about hiring a professional.

If you want to hire a pro:

Depending on your budget, you may want to hire someone who does this full-time and is an expert at it. Expect to pay anywhere from $99 up to $1000, depending on the designer’s experience and clientele.

Some professional ebook designers we’ve noticed online:

http://ebooklaunch.com/ebook-cover-design/

http://www.creativindiecovers.com/

http://www.bookcovercafe.com/book-cover-design/

Another great resource for this is the forum section of Goodreads, you’ll find many discussions like this one:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/837698-book-cover-artists-illustrators

For more great suggestions, check out the list here:

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/bookcoverdesign/

Some lovely editorial and ebook cover designers we found on dribbble (search for things like “ebook, book, covers”):

And some from Bēhance (search for things like “editorial design, ebook”):

All Your Cover Art Questions Answered

A well-designed and considered cover is not only critical for your publication’s sales and marketing, it sets the tone for your reader. At Woopie, we get a lot of questions from publishers about how to go about designing their cover or getting one done for them, so this week and next week we have articles with answers to those most frequently asked questions. Because there are a lot of things to cover, this week we will focus on things to consider like content and image size, while next week we’ll talk more about how and where to get great covers.

Things to consider for cover art: 

1) First impressions matter
Book covers, like wine labels, often cause people to make snap judgements. Colors and typography affect our moods and impressions of what something will be. Background images can be dreamy or serious or puzzling, and those, too, affect how people judge a book cover. 

Take a look at the page below from Barnes & Noble’s Nook Fiction homepage. Could you have guessed from the covers alone which category each of the four books belongs in? 

screenshot of the Nook Fiction page on Barnes and Noble's website

Many people could because they make sense to us. The swirling mystery background. The strong serif fonts of the fantasy book with mystical imagery. 

Another thing you might notice is what is actually readable on the cover. Does the author’s name matter more or the book title? Maybe it’s a famous critic’s comments that you actually want to stand out. Remember that at small sizes, only a couple of words will be readable, so make sure they’re the ones that will make the bigger impact.

2) Different Focus
Your cover will be seen at different sizes on different devices. Something that looks fantastic when you’re standing in a bookstore looking at a shelf might be completely ineffective in a digital version. 

Look at the difference between what we see of the cover on an iPad versus an iPhone: 

screenshot of covers of iBooks on an iPad
screenshot of covers of books on an iPhone 6

Paying attention to this means that we can be very thoughtful when we crop & resize covers. The right image for one marketplace is not necessarily the right image for another. 

This is the view from Amazon’s Kindle store on an iPad browser: 

screenshot of Amazon's Kindle store in an iPad browser

If you’re lucky enough to be a featured book, readers see a pretty decent sized cover. However if you’re one of the sales books on the right side, they’re pretty tiny covers.

3) One size [cover] doesn’t fit all
iBooks: 

If you’re publishing in iBooks, ideally your cover would be either 768×1024 pixels for portrait mode or 2048×1496 pixels for landscape or full-page image mode.

Apple recommends you use JPG for opaque raster images and PNG for transparent raster images if possible. 

For Newsstand, Apple made a change a while back that allows both portrait and landscape versions for subscription content covers: (more on that here

image of Apple's recommendations for layout options for both landscape and portrait subscription apps

Kindle: 

For Kindle books, Amazon last year upped the maximum pixel limits for ebook covers. Minimum size is 625×1000 but ideally 2820×4500, with a 5MB file size limit. 

Kindle does not accept PNG images, only JPG and TIFF files.

Nook:

Nook recommends your image’s height and width to be at least 1400 pixels, and requires a minimum of 750 pixels for both height and width. 

Nook accepts either JPG or PNG files. 

Do I have to make loads of different sized covers?

In terms of size, you can generally make a call on this if you don’t want to be designing 16 different covers. For portrait covers, which are the most common, a ratio of 1:5 (6×9) works well for most publishers. Start with the largest, highest quality size you can and scale down as needed, so something like 3200×4800 pixels. 

Spend some time thinking about what matters for your cover. It will pay off in sales and marketing efforts, but it will also help keep you off of this list: http://kindlecoverdisasters.tumblr.com/

Responsive Book Covers – ideas for the future of ebooks

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Books change us. Stories like Catcher in the Rye, On The Road or Neuromancer can send us on journeys both literal and metaphorical. Reading through these stories, we find out more about the characters, and sometimes more about ourselves.

And yet, these stories sit on our virtual bookshelves, unchanged.

Wouldn’t it be fun if they changed along with us?

Responsive Book Covers

Digital publishing has had a huge influence on book cover design – see Craig Mod’s essay Hack the Cover for an in-depth discussion. In this essay Craig talks about how book covers need to become more iconic to stand out at small sizes on the Amazon store and in iBooks. How they need to not only work at different sizes, but at different colours and resolutions depending on device specifications.

The most interesting part, though, is the need for delight.Reluctant bibliophiles lament the lack of beautiful bookshelves and the feel of a book in their hands. So how can we bring something new to the table?

And so with this great digital flood — and the Death! Death! Death! of the cover — comes a chance to reconsider how we think about covers. To break from nostalgia. Or, even better: to lay the foundation for a new nostalgia.

But perhaps most importantly, embedded within all of this is the chance to delight readers undelighted. 

Book covers that change as you read

A book’s cover needs to delight us – to convince us to pick it up and start reading. Of course, there can be no spoilers – but why not change the cover to reveal what we know as we journey through the pages?

Dorian Gray

Here’s one example – from The Picture of Dorian Gray. (I’ve chosen books that have been around long enough that spoilers aren’t an issue)

In this story, our protagonist commits all manner of sins, yet his face does not age or become marked, the effects instead being magically transformed to a portrait in the attic. Imagine a book cover that reflected this – as we start to read, the portrait is untainted, yet by the end it is a ruinous horror.

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(I’ve included progress bars to indicate how far along the book a reader has gone.)

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In this way, we can delight our reader by changing the book cover each time they open it, and help communicate the story by giving a sense of dread and foreboding as the book progresses.

Alice in Wonderland

Here’s a different approach, for a different story. Alice in Wonderland is a fantastic tale filled with incredible characters. Why not remind the reader of this by updating the cover as Alice encounters new creatures.

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Bringing Sir John Tenniel’s beautiful illustrations to the book cover without having to pick just one will help communicate the story and remind the reader where in Alice’s epic journey they left off. This approach would work equally well for The Lord of The Rings or a travelogue.

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Technology

These proposals are just ideas, and not technically feasible at the moment – however it was a fun exercise, and it would be an interesting improvement to an ereader library. Let us know your thoughts @makewoopie

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