Ebook Cover Design Guide: Tips and Examples

Ebook Cover Design Guide: Tips and Examples

When users scroll through Amazon, Goodreads, or whichever book resource, their eyes decide on which book to click. 

So, a positively smashing ebook cover design is one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal. 

Though before investing your precious time and money in digital cover design, there are some nuances you should consider

Read along to learn about:

  • What’s the difference between ebook and print book covers?
  • Should I have a different print and ebook cover?
  • Ebook cover design tips 
  • List of popular self-publishing companies

What’s the difference between ebook and print book covers?

Let’s get obvious out of the way: unlike a print book, an ebook cover doesn’t have the back and the spine, which have to be meticulously designed as well. 

Besides that, an ebook and printed book covers are basically the same. They serve one purpose — to give a promise of a terrific read as precisely and genre-friendly as possible. So, if you have a nice print book cover it should work equally well for an ebook. 

Right? 

Well, unfortunately, not exactly as ebooks have some limitations and specifics that print books don’t. And perhaps, the most important one is: 

An ebook cover should be a great thumbnail. 

Your ebook cover should smash it as a thumbnail, which is a small image users see when scrolling through lists of books. It means very little space to work with and bad visibility for tiny details. 

For example, on Amazon, a common catalog thumbnail size is 107 x 160

Amazon book cover thumbnails example

Recommendations are even smaller, 90 x 135 px. 

Amazon book cover recommendations example

And series books can be even tinier.

Amazon book cover series example

It means not a lot of space for subtlety there. Your ebook cover should hit quickly and hard. So, always check whether your cover design is a nice thumbnail. 

Another important factor to consider for ebook cover design is

Monochrome representation

Most electronic book readers have black and white displays because of E ink. It means that your cover should be recognizable in monochrome too. It’s not a super important nuance but a nice touch to your digital cover. 

Finally, remember, unlike a printed book, an ebook should look well on a screen and not on a bookshelf. Aim for that Internet memorability. 

As for the size of an original book cover itself, it varies from platform to platform. Let’s take a look at some of them:

A table with book cover dimension requirements of different self-publishing platforms.

Consider that the provided numbers are recommended dimensions, and the images can be bigger or smaller to a certain extent depending on the platform. 

As for audiobooks on Audible, we want a nice square of 2400 x 2400 px.

Should I have a different print and ebook cover?

If you already have a print book cover, and it works as a thumbnail well, you can use it as an ebook cover. The opposite is true as well — a nice ebook cover that will look good on a shelf can be used for print books. Besides, you can always do some adjustments if required. 

However, if you have neither and want two different covers for print and digital, you can design both. No one dissuades you from doing so. But… 

What’s the reason? 

It’s better to create a single design for both versions with a high resolution and then make it fit the required formats – print or electronic.

Ebook cover design tips 

Ebook cover design is all about the proper balance between typography, imagery, and the style they create. An effective cover communicates its genre, caters to the target audience, and of course, rocks a smashing look.

Coming up with ideas for such a cover is not rocket science. Though it requires an understanding of color, typography, and imagery.

Title typography tips for ebook cover design 

Typography is essential for an ebook cover design because it makes or breaks the message of the cover. 

Why is it so important? Well, typography performs the following tasks: 

  • Informs a reader about the book and author 
  • Helps to specify the genre 
  • Helps to create a focal point 
  • Ties the imagery together 
An example  a thriller book cover design with spot-on typography

In this article, we examine some top typography tips that help to create a great book cover.  

When it comes to ebook visuals, typography should be readable regardless of the image size. Mind the quality of the thumbnail and make sure that the reduced size of an ebook cover won’t hinder the visibility of the title. 

Now, to the more difficult bit — fonts. 

Fiction typography differs from nonfiction. At the same time, different fiction genres also use different fonts. 

If you want to know what are the best fonts for ebook covers in fantasy, romance, crime, and thriller, you may learn it from the article Fiction Book Cover Design: The Definitive Guide

Here are some of the fonts we use for ebook cover design: 

  • Trajan font has a classical feel to it and can be used for nonfiction and fiction ebook covers.
  • Aphrodite is a beautiful script font you can use for romance. 
  • Century Gothic is a geometric-like typeface, which fits mystery and thriller book covers.
  • Arboria is airy and elegant. It works well for fantasy typography design.

Ebook cover imagery tips 

Typography was first because even a plain single-colored ebook cover with masterful typography can be catchy and beautiful. 

Imagery though is next in line for giving a reader the promise of a read they crave. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind for great ebook cover design imagery: 

  • Images should be well-recognizable in thumbnails. It means less focus on tiny details and more “broad strokes”, fewer colors, and more stark contrasts, more well-defined lines. 
  • It’s better to choose an image with a single focus and a simple background than a combination of various scenes or a blend of different visuals.
  • Though an image over-saturated with details and colors can work as well if you aim for the grotesque, abstract, or surreal look.
  • Don’t be afraid to use references and borrow ideas from the genre’s best. 
  • Either aim for strong symbolism or hint at the plot. If you don’t have a powerful author brand yet, there’s not a lot you can win by being vague about your book.

Remember that you can use colors to create the desired mood of your ebook cover. 

Here are a few ebook color design tips: 

  • Dark hues in general are a perfect choice for crime, fantasy, and thriller. They imply mystery and provoke anticipation. 
  • Black and red communicate danger well, so they’re a good choice for horrors and thrillers. 
  • Tender pastel hues fit romance 
  • Yellow and orange are about happiness and joy, so comedy is a safe bet with them
  • Stark contrasts of dark colors with bright colors can be used to create a sense of wonder 

When we think about nonfiction, all colors can be effective, yet here are some tips: 

  • If your writing is about productivity, yellow and orange can work wonders. 
  • If your book is about the development of business, you can use blue, which a lot of people associate with trust
  • White is a symbol of purity, so it fits spiritual literature well

Overall, to choose a proper color palette, you should answer the question, “What emotion do I want my ebook cover to evoke?” Afterward, you can consult your designer or do some research on what color scheme to settle. Also, research your competition, look at which color decisions work and which fail. It helps immensely. 

As for imagery itself, there’s not much advice except for making it genre-appropriate. 

Also, if you want to use a photo or other image, you should have the copyrights to do so. Otherwise, you can use free stock photos. 

To get some inspiring design cover ideas, you can read this article

List of most popular ebook publishing companies

Let’s look at some of the largest online book retailers where you can easily self-publish your book.

  • Amazon KDP

Amazon is the world’s biggest online bookstore, with about 38 percent of daily sales of ebooks, which go to self-published titles. Though Amazon offers various services for authors, Kindle Direct Publishing is the most popular platform among indie-authors. 

Amazon KDP publishing guide

Apple Books

Previously known as iBooks, Apple Books is available in 51 countries. The retailer is easy to use and provides help in the publishing process. Apple Books is a great choice for authors who prefer Apple user experience and service. 

If you don’t have a Mac but still want to publish on Apple Books, you have to go through a book aggregator, which will take a cut of your profits.

Apple Books publishing guide. 

Kobo

Toronto-based Kobo is a leading Canadian book retailer as well as Amazon KDP and Apple Books competitor on a global market. Kobo allows you to set your prices as well as track your sales by country and date in real-time. Besides, it has an attractive royalty rate.  

If you want to learn about exciting self-publishing tricks on Kobo, we recommend Joanna Penn’s blog post.

Kobo publishing guide. 

Barnes and Noble Press

Barnes and Noble Press is a US eBook retailer. Just like its competitors, Barnes and Noble provides a smooth indie author journey with a clear set of instructions on publishing and marketing. It has generous royalty fees, detailed sales reporting, and various print book options.  

Barnes and Nobles Press publishing guide

Summing up

Ebook cover design is not rocket science, but you still need a solid understanding of its requirements and general design principles to come up with a winning idea. Then it’s up to the designer’s experience and their artistic vigor. 

It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of a catchy cover in the modern saturated self-publishing market. So, we hope that your ebook will get the cover that will let it shine. 

We wish you luck on your self-publishing journey!

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