February 10, 2012

Cover design from within the self-publishing bubble


Book covers by numbers

Ever more options for the self-publisher: the new service GetBookCover allows self-published authors to buy an image, add their title and captions using an in-browser editor, and generate and download a cover in a selection of formats, for print and digital distribution. They’re touting themselves as the essential missing element in making a self-published book seem professional, but are they really offering anything that new? The site’s FAQ section reads:

Why would I want to buy a book cover from GetBookCover?

Most self-published books have crappy covers because self-published authors have tight budgets and cannot afford to hire a professional book cover designer. We believe this may be a turn off for the readers seeking to buy the book, although the book itself may be a gem. We think this can be changed and thus we are offering professional illustration and photography works for a reasonable price and are providing a simple way to edit and convert the image to various formats you may need.

Online picture libraries have existed for donkey’s years, so it’s been relatively cheap and easy to find and license the artwork for a book’s cover since before self-publishing began. GetBookCover claim that their added value is in their editing software, and crucially in the fact that it’s used online: there’s no need to fork out for expensive software packages. But how much value is really added? A stock image and cheap typography do not a winning cover make. Have we just seen another inflation of the self-publishing bubble?


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.