Tuesday, August 14, 2007

E-Book Cover Design and Digital Resolution

E-book publishing is one great way to get one's written works into the hands of the public and make some money in the process, without having to go through the time-consuming hassles of creating printed books. But one drawback is that the sites which sell such books for you sometimes require that you keep the book "covers" within certain parameters in terms of resolution. That can affect the types of designs you can create.

For example, I visited one site which specified that all e-book covers should be 100 pixels wide by 150 pixels high. So I created the image at the top of this blog post. The text says: "Grace and Mercy: The Poetry of Mark Pettigrew".

At the original size (840 pixels wide by 1260 pixels high), the title text is quite legible. At 100 pixels by 150 pixels, the legibility is considerably less impressive. That's partly the result of my choice of fonts. I could have chosen a font which would be more boring but also more legible at that size.

Consequently, I decided to play with the design a bit. I created the second version, in order to enable me to enlarge the text somewhat, without obscuring any more of the photo. It's a small difference, but I think that the text is now large enough, even with the fancy font, that it's legible to anyone with reasonably good eyesight. If it were not for the need to reduce the overall design to a size as small as this, then I might prefer the first design, but I think that the second design is better, in terms of text legibility, when reproduced at this size online. I'm not too crazy about having to reduce the size of the artwork even more in order to create a design which works, but that's life.

I think that the fancy font really does enhance the cover design, since it looks like something one would see on a book of poetry, rather than looking like something one would see on a textbook pertaining to economics or something of that nature.

This kind of thing might not be immediately obvious to a graphic designer who was focused more on producing a design which was suitable for print. A lot of e-books essentially use the same cover designs as their print counterparts, and the e-book version is an afterthought. Since printed books offer more flexibility in terms of design, the text on the covers of such books are often just barely legible when those designs are reduced in size in order to enable the books to be sold online.

That's one reason why web stores which sell e-books (and regular printed books, for that matter) usually include actual text which tells both the title and the author. Unlike a book which is sold in a store, legibility of the text on the cover design for eBooks is less important, because the text description shown in the online store repeats that information.

The main thing, it seems to me, is to convey the impression of a professionally designed and attractive book cover. Sometimes the thumbnail images shown for ebooks are legible but quite ugly. This current design, it seems to me, looks like something one might see at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

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