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The Importance of Easily Accessible Cover Images

Books2 A picture is still worth a thousand words, right?  So that means publishers should ensure their book cover images are readily available for bloggers and other reviewers to post with their write-up's.  This is another one of those "easier said than done" problems.

Cory Doctorow makes the point in this Boing Boing post.  Just take a look at all the different perspectives noted in the dozens of follow-up comments and you start to appreciate just how thorny this is.  And btw, although a /covers directory makes a lot of sense, I'd prefer to go to one source and not have to figure out what the publisher's website is called; with all of today's imprint names and publishing conglomerates it can be a challenge just getting to the right catalog website.  (Yes, even though I'm a publisher I too get frustrated at times trying to figure out whether it's, or something else!)

When I write and post reviews I tend to use Amazon as my first stop for cover images.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), more and more books are part of Amazon's "Search Inside" program, so the Amazon cover image shows both the cover and the "Search Inside" violator.  Call me old-fashioned but I'd rather just post the cover and nothing else.  My next stop is typically the publisher's website and boy, is that hit and miss!  You never know what you'll find on these cover image scavenger hunts.

Thanks to the Boing Boing post I discovered that LibraryThing has been working on an initiative to solve this problem.  That sounds promising but it's probably not the best solution for me; I prefer to actually have a copy of the image that I can load on my blog service, not just link to someone else's site for the graphic.  Again, I'm old-fashioned...  Plus, I like LibraryThing and all but how confident can I be that all the covers I need will be there?

And that brings me back to Amazon.  They obviously have all the raw cover images for every book on their site, so why don't they just offer an extra link to download if from the book's product page?



I ran into the same cover image problem when using Amazon's main page for the book. What I now do is click on the link to create a review. On that page you'll get a smaller book cover image without the Search Inside image superimposed on it. Seems to work every time for me.

Michael A. Banks

Used to be, you could right-click on the book cover, and a larger version would display in a new window. Right-click and save. If you want to do that now, you can go to or another country that doesn't have Search Inside.

I put my books' covers on my blogs and Web sites for anyone who wants them. But I agree that Amazon should offer downloads, and that publishers ought to make covers easily availale. Some need more personnel.

Paul Mikos

I've started going to for cover images. I can usually find what I'm after and the images are generally clean and consistent. does a good job too.

Nick Ciske

Amazon does have the unobstructed image, you need to view the image in a browser so you can tweak the URL a bit.

Here's what you can do with Amazon's image URLs:

It'd be great if someone wrote a JavaScript snippet that would pop up a window with a clean image.

Walt Shiel

I has always bugged me that the books we put into the SITB program had that logo slashing across their covers on Amazon. I had never considered that it might pose a problem for bloggers and such who need or want to display a copy of the cover.

We do include high- and medium-res images of our own website, but I can see where many people will first check Amazon.

I will now add a "customer image" for all of our SITB titles on Amazon without that logo across them.

Thanks for pointing this out, Joe!

Book Calendar

I think they want you to sell the book to get the cover image. If you are an Amazon associate you get the cover image as part of selling the book. In other words, no cover image unless they make money. I put the Amazon associate widgets on my blog when I do reviews. They even have a slideshow widget that shows multiple covers, but once again you have to be an associate selling the book.

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