Ebook Cover vs Print Book Cover

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Ebook Cover vs Print Book Cover

Post by Lilien on Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:21 am

Print Book Cover vs Ebook Cover

You would think cover is a cover and there are no differences. While this may be true in some extent, there are still some differences which an author has to look after.

But let’s look at the primary usage of your covers.  Print Book Covers will end up and be visible on your print books which are physical. That means they are created by a printer. While your ebook cover will end up in your ebooks and will be available on your computer screen  or on your  reading devices which is electronical.

For you to understand this difference you must understand the colors produced by screen and colors produced by printer.

Printer works  under CMYK color model, which is a model that process 4 colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). These primary colors of a printer after mixing  give the secondary colors . So creating a print image is defined by  mixing the 4 color of the printer.    

Screen display works with RGB model, which represent Red Green Blue. These three colors work under light model and they can create millions of different kind of colors  and  shades.  So creating a screen image is defined by mixing Red Light, Green Light and Blue Light.

The CMYK colors can not be viewed correctly on computer displays, cause the screen can not  proceed CMYK and works under RGB model. The RGB colors when printed will be much duller  and darker on paper than on the screen, cause instead of the light display we use ink.
Now, given that the book covers prepared for print should be in CMYK model, this makes quite a  few problems for designers who have to prepare covers on their computers which works  with RGB model.  So what you see on the screen is not really what you will get on paper. For a designer to prepare a book cover which will fit the purpose of printing, he/ she must work with color swatches which will most closely simulate the print colors. And it also means a lot of proofing, and changing, so that result on paper can come to our expectations.

Print books are prepared in CMYK working environment, but what will happen if you need an ebook cover which will be displayed on computer screen? Do you need a two different covers separately prepared?

Now this is a question where designers will give you different answers.

Some will say, YES, you must prepare two files. Cause preparing a print file with RGB model is simple not acceptable. But some of them will tell you NO, you can work on same file and export one as an RGB file and one convert to the CMYK.

Now, given that you read my post and my article I will give you my answer. NO, you do not need to different covers, creating the same cover twice, especially if there is lot of manipulation would never end up in same result, and it takes too much time which means a bigger designer fee which YOU have to pay.
So designer can create ONE cover in RGB mode which can be exported as an ebook cover and than that same cover has to be slowly and thoroughly converted in CMYK model which is suitable for print. Todays technology came a long way from it’s beginning and conversation of the color modes became much easier.

Publishing Houses ask for 300DPI for print cover and 72 DPI for Ebook cover. What is that?


DPI means Dop Per Inch and it represents the quality of your image. The higher DPI is the better quality of your image will be. In simple word, if you have higher DPI it will mean you will have more dots on territory of one inch and the image when enlarged will be more sharper, cause of all the colors that is presented. While when you have smaller DPI the dots on your inch territory will be reduced and when enlarged will have less colors on that territory and will end up being blurry. For the image to be printed with quality the printer needs the as much high DPI as it can get. The DPI can go over 1000 but for book cover printing 300DPI is perfect. Most of the cameras (photo cameras) work in resolution of 300DPI.
So if 300DPI is better why do I need to submit 72DPI for ebook cover?
While 300DPI for print file is good, web pages and application would be overloaded with the size of the 300DPI. The higher the DPI is the bigger of the file will be. It will take much more time to load and it will slow down the process. While print demands high resolution,  digital screen is working with light model and will be able to produce the 72DPI nicely without bigger problems. Of course if enlarging the image, it will end up blurry, but as a difference to the print where you cannot adjust the size of an image for better viewing, with web display you are able to adjust it for just the perfect viewing environment.

What is the common size of a print book and ebook?

Print books come in different sizes and they depend on authors need. Most common book size for fiction is 6*9in.  And I always strongly recommend it. But it completely depends on your desire and capability of your print office.  Depending of which size of the book you chose the book cover will have the same size.
Ebook size should be with longest size no longer than 2500px. Now, different kind of ebook publishers demand different kind of sizes, which they think it’s most suitable for their ebook-readers. And those sizes wary from 630-px *800px to 1380px*2500px, of course your ebook cover can be reduced to a certain size depending of your covers aspect ratio, so above mentioned sizes are not fixed. The safest way for your cover is to produce your ebook publisher with longest side not going over 2500px with 72DPI.

Is the price higher for an ebook than it is for a print book?

Most of the designers offer multiple packages for cover designing,  if you order only an ebook cover it should cost you less than a full print ready cover. But ordering a full print ready cover with most of the designer  should provide you the ebook cover  in the price of the print cover.

Why does print cover costs more than the ebook cover?

First of all, images which you use on ebook cover can be with smaller resolution which mean buying them would cost less money. Ebook cover does not have spine and back cover which means less work.
Also very important about print covers is that even though you desire the dimension let’s say 6*9in, the sheet on which the cover will be printed is bigger and the cover has to be cut to the exact size.  Which means that designer has to create a additional space around the cover called Bleed where the cutter will come.  That requires more work and much precise designing, which results in more work.

Hopefully you find my article useful and If I can, I would be more than happy to answer any of your question. So don't be shy to ask.



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Re: Ebook Cover vs Print Book Cover

Post by Sacchi on Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:42 pm

Valuable info, Lilien. Thanks.
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Re: Ebook Cover vs Print Book Cover

Post by ElaineB on Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:56 pm

With a print cover you also have to take into account the thickness of the book, right? You want the title on the spine to be centered correctly. Is that calculation difficult?

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Re: Ebook Cover vs Print Book Cover

Post by Lilien on Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:12 pm

It's not that difficult if there is no much text. But when the tittles are too long and plus author wants logo and authors name (which is also a longer one) it makes hell fitting it all together and making it look pleasant for eye. 

The spine size depends on page count, as you, I am sure, know. But even though let's say spine is 1in wide, it doesn't mean we can use the whole inch for the spine. Same as the safety zone around the cover, there must be safety zone in spine. While around the cover paper gets cut off, at spine we must leave space for fold.

Also good thing about photoshop is that it has smart guides which help you with faster and accurate placing and moving your elements. When I find time I will make some screen shots and give you a small insight of the how does a book cover looks like with all it's guides and elements. Of course if you are interested. Very Happy
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