Book Cover Design Software

What software are people using for designing book covers these days? Right now I’m using Adobe Illustrator 9 for Mac OS 9, but that’s not going to last for very much longer, since I’ll probably upgrade my main system to an Intel Mac that won’t run Classic in the new year. Should I just upgrade to the latest version of Illustrator or should I look at something else?

I haven’t done serious desktop publishing work for 15 years, so I don’t want to invest in expensive pro tools like Quark XPress or InDesign. Ideally, I’d like a simple open source program that uses SVG as its native format. I need to be able to export as PNG for eventual publication on paper. Any suggestions? What do people think of Sketsa or OpenOffice Draw? Are these good enough for simple uses like book covers?

7 Responses to “Book Cover Design Software”

  1. Tony Cowderoy Says:

    How about Inkscape (SVG drawing) and Scribus (DTP)? They are both open source and both claim to run on the Mac and I’ve used both with some success. I did my company’s brochure with Scribus this year, including the cover. Xara Xtreme is also getting good reviews and is alleged to be available for the Mac.

  2. Tim Clark Says:

    I have only dabbled with Inkscape on a Mac but if you have X11 installed on your Mac it installs easily and seems to work well. I use it on my work PC for touching up SVG files produced by a UML tool and it works fine for that. I have done simple graphics with it for teaching materials and it was quick and easy – although I didn’t really do anything advanced or clever. It is definitely worth 30 minutes of your time to evaluate it.

  3. blandname Says:

    I’d highly recommend running either Freehand or Illustrator. Inkscape and Scribus are great ideas but they simply don’t work to my expectations yet (as of last week).
    Of course, your mileage may vary, and both apps might be MUCH better next week. That said, there’s nothing that really compares to Illustrator right now for a die-hard user. Even if you run it using Rosetta it’s still hands-down the winner. If you can’t afford Illustrator, check out Freehand as it is slightly cheaper and offer much of the same functionality with an added speed boost.
    Oh and last but not least, you might want to try Corel Draw. Not my cup of tea, but many people lover it.
    OK so that cover vector illustration apps, but what you are asking about is a DTP app similar to Quark or InDesign. InDesign has a trial available – try it out! Quark in my mind is ancient, hard to ease, and produces the best results when laying out things like newspapers. It’s certainly an acquired taste and has a steep learning curve that does not bode well for a beginner. Hang in there and land yourself a job at a newspaper maybe?
    Alright rant over.

  4. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I just gave Inkscape a shot. It didn’t last long. It crashed twice within a minute or two of launching. Besides that, it’s an X-Windows application (yuck).

  5. Jeff Chaffin Says:

    I’ve been using a program called BookCoverPro and I love it. This lets you save in pdf, png and jpg. The cost seems very reasonable compared to the big apps.

  6. Leigh Says:

    I am working on getting a book publish, on (Adobe Illustrator) how do i started creating a cover for my book and is it easy to use it do do that?

  7. Paul Says:

    I have done all mine in Pagemaker (6.5), because it’s all I had. But I have found it the easiest prog to use. All the others use endless frames, and all get messy. Pagemaker lets you put anything anywhere and any way you choose. The first time I tried it I was hooked. Thing is, I don’t know if Adobe still sell it, or if anyone does, it’s so very old now. But if you can get it, do so.

    The hardest part of cover design is the design itself, not how to build it. Don’t believe that anyone follows the old adage, “Never judge a book…” because everyone does – judge the book by its cover, that is. Spend a lot of time on the cover. A lot of time. No tips here, sorry, I’m not a designer. It’s very personal. But you should do a few and try them on friends and family. The cover sells your book – or doesn’t.

    And here’s a tip for firsttimers. When you choose the size of the cover in whatever publishing prog you are using, you must make it about 5mm wider at all 4 sides than the pages are. This is called “bleed”. The printer removes the excess, but it ensures no white around the page – if you do it exact, white trim may show. No one told me this for my first book, and it cost me more time to change everything. Basically you just extend the primary background colour into the 5mm- sounds simple, but it can be a bugger after the event. Do it from the outset.

    Oh, and be very aware of copyright. Nothing that you have not drawn or painted yourself belongs to you. Don’t be tempted to use a nice piccy that you found somewhere. Be sure that the copyright lawers will chase you, and they may break you – they have no qualms, they are a breed apart. But, then again, it’s not your own work. If you really must use this or that piccy, find out who owns it and ask them. Not everyone is moneygrubbing. Some will just be pleased to be recognised – and mentioned. (This hasn’t been a personal experience, we just did a lot of on my degree course.)

    InDesign looks good – Pagemaker with cojones, but fearsome expensive. (I sent them an email saying that it was too expensive for reality. They didn’t answer. My book cost, eventually, thousands to make – as yours will, but it sells for 7 euros 95. So, I asked, why should their product not sell for something similar. Silence still. Gits.)

    Good luck and good sales.


Leave a Reply