A Publisher’s Opinion on the Importance of a Good Book Cover

A Publisher's Opinion on the Importance of a Good Book Cover

Here’s a Publisher’s opinion on the importance of a good book cover.  Imagine buying an expensive piece of jewelry, a ring perhaps or bracelet. Now, think about a special someone who will be the recipient of this gift. Now, place it in an ordinary box like the ones found at a grocery store.  Then wrap the box in a crumbled paper bag. Not a great way to present a fine present, right? In fact, this will not be well-received at all unless the objective is to throw the recipient off in guessing what’s inside. This is an analogy of what happens with book covers all too often. An author spends days, months, or even years crafting their novel, only to dress it in rags.  Unless the book is about rags, this technique is ill-advised.

What is the purpose of the book cover?

Book covers have quite a few sections all purposely designed in order to inform readers, merchants, and libraries about the content within. In other words, it is an informational device and marketing tool of significance.

The dust jacket (sometimes book jacket, dust wrapper or dust cover) of a book is the detachable outer cover, usually made of paper and printed with text and illustrations. This outer cover has folded flaps that hold it to the front and back book covers. Often the back panel or flaps are printed with biographical information about the author, a summary of the book from the publisher (known as a blurb), and/or critical praise from celebrities or authorities in the book’s subject area. In addition to its promotional role, the dust jacket protects the book covers from damage. However, since it is itself relatively fragile, and since dust jackets have practical, aesthetic, and sometimes financial value, the jacket may in turn be wrapped in another jacket, usually transparent, especially if the book is a library volume.[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_jacket] See illustration below of a hard cover book template. Soft covers do not have back or front flaps.

Hard Copy Book Cover Template Sample
hard cover book template

The lists below the bold cover section titles in the illustration above are the items that are typically found within those sections. Of course, these items need not be present on all book covers, however, the title, author’s name, bar code, price and ISBN must be present on the cover. Without the bar code, merchants will not be able to sell the book because this code holds the basic information about the product, tracking for inventory and publisher and distributor identification.

Hard Copy Book Jacket Cover 

Poor-ducing Theatre book cover

Above cover is from writer, Carl Clay, a book about producing theater and film at Black Spectrum Theatre sold in the Shop.

What about the book cover picture?

This can be a very subjective area, like all art, not everyone likes the same thing. That is why there are impressionists, abstract artists, realists, etc. Therefore, one cover design or formula cannot please all audiences. However, there are basic rules cover makers should follow.

Art work should be sharp and presentable with a minimum of 300 dpi resolution. The easiest way to describe this is to say that when the picture is magnetized to 400 in a photo viewer, the picture should still look sharp and not fuzzy. In other words, only use high quality photos, pictures and illustrations. Printers will typically ask designers to adhere to these conditions and some will even demand cooperation because the finished product now attaches their name and reputation to the work.

In the post-war era, book covers have become vitally important as the book industry has become commercially competitive. Covers now give detailed hints about the style, genre and subject of the book, while many push design to its limit in the hope of attracting sales attention. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_cover]

What about the content on the cover?

The content on the cover should give readers some clues to the story within. Good covers simply echo the book title, for example, book title Walk in the Park might have a picture or illustration of a park. Great covers tell a story in and of themselves, for example, book title The Eclipse might have a moon partially covering the silhouette of a man carrying a weapon. Both of these examples aren’t based on actual books, but are given in order to spark imaginations.

Best to think of the book cover similarly the way movie trailers are perceived, as ways to engage an audience and entice them into coming to see the show. Anything less than that, is a waste of valuable space on one’s cover.

What tools are used to make book covers?

Software in this area has come a long way, not to mention access to such powerful tools. Printing presses used to be the standard method for creating books and covers. Authors would have to go to a printing company and pay them to have their books and covers done. However, now-a-days nearly every household contains a personal computer. Publishing capabilities are no longer just in the hands of printing presses, but are now in the hands of the consumer.

In the opinion of Blackcurrant Press, one of the best book publishing software applications available is InDesign. A designer can either upload a cover template or create their own in this application and build their cover. Unfortunately, learning the InDesign application may not come naturally to users who are only used to Microsoft Word. This application has a few more features and capabilities. Plus, the price tag for this application ranges from $900-$1,200+ depending on package variation. Of course, for those who do not wish to learn a new software or create their cover on their own, outsourcing is the way to go. Book cover designers are plentiful and most will work within their clients’ budget.

Another good book publishing software application is Quarkxpress. This software has been around a while and some designers may not be familiar with it at all. It’s not as user-friendly as InDesign, nor as integrated with other applications. However, with a little effort and ingenuity, this application is capable of doing most of the things that InDesign can with a smaller price tag of $850. Again, outsourcing book cover production is always an option.

A favorite, of course is PhotoShop, with a price tag of $240.  It has a great deal of capabilities like the others, though basically known for its photo altering tools.

Also, there are websites that allow users to create a cover for FREE!  Try Canva, or Kindle Direct Publishing, or Create Space, to name a few.


Below are some samples of great book covers.  Hopefully these will inspire budding authors to create their own works of art!

example of a good book cover


Notice the picture is clear and high resolution.  It is a photo of a street in Tuscany.  It has a quote on the cover as well as an award.


A Publisher's opinion of a good book cover

Notice the words ‘the woman’ appear as if they’re peaking through the window blinds.  It has a best seller honorable mention and a quote.



This book cover shows the important of a book cover

Notice the word ‘Me’ wrapped around the Empire State Building.  Also, the author’s title mentions another book of distinction.



This Publisher’s opinion on covers is to ask writers to take a look at books similar to theirs. The intention for this is to illustrate industry quality and standard.  It would be lovely to report that this technique always works. Unfortunately, some writers do not believe that book covers matter.  To them, we say, “Sometimes the old barn needs a little paint!”

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