Ebook Cover Design for Business or Erotic Ebooks

Frank Lloyd Wright famously proclaimed that form follows function, and however he meant it, it certainly appears to be true for e-book cover design. We currently publish e-book versions of our paper books and use the same covers, but I've become fascinated with the Top 100 e-book list on Amazon and what it can teach about e-book cover design. I check the Top 100 e-books once a day or more just to watch the trends and hold brief celebrations when one of our titles is up for the day, so I've come to recognize the evergreen e-books, the ones that are actually selling five or ten copies a day. About half the titles in top 100 are business or “adult” e-books, with the proportion varying with the time of day and the day of the week. In fact, there's a real easy Master's thesis for a sociology or psychology student on when people stop thinking about work, though you'd have to make allowances for cross-over titles like "Office Slave."

A bit of a disclaimer before I continue, I've never purchased an erotic e-book and I'm actually something of a Puritan (for those who differentiate between puritans and prudes). However, as a learning exercise, I have clicked on some of the erotic e-books to see the bigger version of the cover, something I'll admit I've never done with a business e-book. The reason is simple. The cover design for business e-books, particularly those which don't exist in paper form, wouldn't catch your eye if it was painted on your glasses. The bestselling series of business e-books from the Harvard Business School Press have nothing but a black graphic and the HBR OnPoint graphic on the cover, not even the title. Other business e-books are usually designed around the title, in a very large font, and if there is a photo or artwork, it usually has no obvious connection with the title.

Erotic e-books are sold by cover art. I'm no expert on art photography or airbrushing, but the covers of most erotic e-books employ a model in some stage of undress, usually in a compromising position. There seems to be an uptick in erotic e-books targeted for a female readership, which, while showing a lot of skin on the cover, pose the models like Greek statues, as you might see on a paperback romance novel. The covers of e-book titles that deal with domination and bondage often include restraints, leather, and other paraphernalia of that world. Never having read one, I sometimes wonder if the cover art has as little to do with the interior as was the case with the science fiction I read as a kid, but the titles seem to match pretty closely.

Actually generating a cover for an e-book is trivial compared with designing a cover for a paper book. There's no bleed requirement, no getting the spine width correct or worrying about straight lines near the edges. It's even easier from the standpoint of color matching - you can generate the e-book cover in any software you want, save it as a TIFF or a JPEG, and you're done. There's nothing to stop you from generating an e-book cover using nothing but a digital camera and Microsoft Paint, found in the Program>Accessories menu of Windows. In the end, it doesn't pay to waste a lot of time trying to tweak the colors or fonts on your e-book covers, because they'll rarely be viewed at a resolution above the thumbnail image displayed on Amazon. Even if you want a full resolution image in the PDF file the customer purchases, it's going to look a little different on every computer display, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. Just follow the file submission guidelines (submission is another popular cover theme for erotic e-books) and don't be afraid to make a mistake since you aren't going to get stuck with a garage full of books.

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