Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

So I had to make an ebook cover…

Making ebook covers is a relatively new task for designers and there haven’t exactly been many lengthy discussions on the topic. If there were any lengthy discussions I completely missed them which is entirely unsurprising. (I was probably too busy watching videos on Youtube of dogs running into walls and cats falling off furniture.)

I didn’t think of googling “how to make an ebook cover” until last week and my first advice is don’t buy a book about designing ebook covers if the book in question has an ugly cover. It’s just good sense. Otherwise googling ebook covers is good fun and I highly recommend it.

The first thing to keep in mind when making an ebook cover is that it has to look good both when it’s big and when it’s small. It seems quite obvious but you’d be surprised.

Cowardly Lion Small cover

Hungry Tiger Big cover

So to me simplicity is the key which is great since simplicity is kinda what I like anyway. It’s easy to lose yourself in minute details when putting something together in Photoshop with it’s handy zoom tool. It often seems like the designer tried to squeeze as many textures, frames, layers and squiggly bits as possible on the cover. A lot of the time it seems too much detail for a little paperback let alone an ebook. So what I like to do is look at book covers made before the age of Photoshop and the zoom tool. Like way before…

Now I went through a lot of effort finding this book, “The Art of American Book Covers”, in my book shelves to get some nice examples for you guys (which is no easy feat since I got the brilliant idea of arranging my books by colour. My book shelves look like a rainbow now but finding stuff is a pain in the butt.)

boat poems doggy      lighthouse    daybreak

These covers (which are dated 1904, 1903, 1904, 1886, 1915) are much more minimalistic and often better suited for ebooks than many of the modern style covers. Sometimes less is more and so on. Bold colours grab attention. Simple and eye catching is a good theme for an ebook cover so you can also try looking at some vintage advertisements for inspiration. Now I might just be using this as an excuse to post some pictures from my postcard collection (I collect postcards with vintage advertising just so you know) but I digress. I think the often stylised composition and limited colour palette is very suitable for ebook covers.

nylon2 mossbross2 hudson2 lincolnchrysler2

Now the fun thing about doing covers for a series of books is that you can give them a common aesthetic. One suggestion, and my favourite, is taking a picture and cutting it into little pieces for each cover. I think it’s the animator in me. Anything remotely sequential is very exciting.

covertest3 Look! Sequential drawings. Very exciting.

To me it has endless possibilities. You can take a picture and cut it into two, three, four pieces any which way you like and they can look so lovely sitting next to each other on your screen or shelf or whatever (unless your shelves are colour coded like mine. It can make it a bit difficult.) The downside is you have to actually know how many books will be in the series beforehand. So there’s that.

coverswithtext One picture, four books.

clocktext2 One picture, one book.

So in conclusion: Simplicity! Minimalism!  Yes to late 19. century, early 20. century book covers. Also vintage advertisements. Less zoom in, more zoom out. And cutting pictures into smaller fractions for an ebook series saves time, has the potential of looking quite nice but it’s better to know just how many books will be published beforehand. And do us all a favour and back away from that ebook cover generator.

Hope this was helpful. Peace out.


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