Book cover layout design.
An overview of book cover layout design with details on set-up in the chapters to follow. The design of the cover of a book is an art. However, the purpose of Book Design: Simple & Professional is to provide information to make book design as simple as possible for a novice, and still have a professional looking book. Most important of all, the book must have a cover that sells.
Whether selling a book online or for print, envision the cover as a thumbnail image. Is the book title large enough to read if listed for sale on Amazon, on a website, or in a book review or testimonial? Does the typography, treatment of the title, and photograph or graphic image convey the right message to potential book buyers?
ISBN and barcode
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique commercial book identifier.
Do not confuse it with an ASIN which stands for Amazon Standard Identification Numbers that contains 10 letters and / or numbers that identify an Amazon product. For Amazon’s purposes, a book’s ASIN is the same as the ISBN. Yet, if you are selling books in a bookstore, an author or self-publisher needs their own ISBN, not an ASIN.
Each ISBN identifies a book. Therefore, if the formats are an ebook and a soft cover, you will need two ISBNs. The ISBN has 13 digits. Any ISBN bought before January 1, 2007 has 10 digits.
A Bookland EAN barcode is mandatory in most bookstores. It is generated specifically for ISBNs. You can buy an ISBN or a pack of ten at ISBN.org. While you can buy a plain UPC, or Universal Product Code, your book would not appear in bookstore and related databases. A UPC is for general merchandise, not books. Here is what you get when you buy an ISBN:
- Identification of one book in one format
- Get Into Books In Print
- Register yourself as The Publisher
- Appearance in relevant databases
More about book cover layout design
A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT PRINT ON-DEMAND
Buy the ISBN and barcode yourself, as you should be the publisher of your book. That way, you retain all profits. If an on-demand publisher provides this ISBN, they are the publisher. You will receive only royalties, which pay less than the profit you could be making. Also, they are the publisher of record, and that means you are not. Read contracts before signing!
CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT AN UNSCRUPULOUS ISBN SELLER
This was a situation in which an author bought an ISBN from a person for $40. This was a huge red flag, and we had a talk with our client.
If you buy a barcode with an ISBN purchased previously, you must register your title information at ISBN.org.
The barcode size is standard at 92 percent of the full-size image but can be as small as 80 percent of the original size. This assumes that the barcode is purchased though ISBN.org.
The placement of the barcode is predetermined. It is standard to be in the lower right corner on the back cover. This makes it easier for bookstores to scan the barcode.
Adjust the placement to not fall into the hinge or too close to the spine. It is a good idea to put barcodes on the book itself as well as the dust jacket. This is just in case a dust jacket is lost or damaged.
Retail price advice
Be sure to use the suggested retail price in the barcode. Most bookstores will not accept a book without the retail price in the barcode.
Amazon wants to sell books at a significant discount off that retail price. We recommend setting a higher retail price on your book to offset the deep Amazon discount and their fees. If selling online on your own website, add a shipping and handling fee in addition to the price of the book. You do not want to cut too deeply into an already discounted price.
Check out the competition. When you do, check the copyright date and any printing date on the copyright page of a similar book. You want a similar binding, page count, and printing date to compare to your book.
Just remember, you can always put a book on sale. But to increase the retail price of your book means buying a new barcode, printing the new price on stickers, and then applying the stickers to the books.
Spine width and printers’ templates
The page count is important. The printer needs the final page count, binding type, and paper type and weight to determine the spine width. Then a measurement guide is given to the book designer so they can lay out the book cover, including proper sizing of the title on the spine.
The printer may provide a diagram showing the measurements for the specific type of cover. If the book is a simple soft cover, only the spine width is provided, with no diagram. That is because the front and back cover of a soft cover book are the same dimensions as the interior pages.
Files are set up in InDesign and in a separate file from the book’s interior pages. Templates simply show the measurements on a diagram. It is usually not provided in an InDesign document.
Make sure that you relay any relevant changes to the printer before you request a template. The measurements can also vary depending on the printer or service provider used.