Whether you’re selling an ebook or a hard copy, books will most often be sold by their cover. As things continue to change the way of the Kindle, iPad, and various online venues, however, the purpose served by a book’s cover now changes focus to the digital realm, and increasingly books are purchased based on recommendation engines or peer reviews, with a small thumbnail of the book cover all that you can count on. If we look at the evolution of album cover design, to cassette case design, to CD cover design to online presence design we see the common thread of personal branding evolves as our consumption evolves… so is true for books.

Something to consider for the digitization of book cover design is that it must coexist with the interfaces used to read — be it the Kindle or the iPhone or a web page. This means that it cannot be just about aesthetics and message, but also about functionality. Your website may be stunning, but if it’s unusable that doesn’t matter. So consider that your book cover design needs to work as a tiny thumbnail image all the way up to a full size hard copy (and potentially beyond if you attend conferences, etc..).

As someone interested in how design evolution parallels technological evolution, I look forward to seeing how book design changes given new technologies, but in the meantime, we can all revel in the following sites that catalog beautiful book cover design.

There’s little better than visiting my local Powell’s Books to revel in the rows and rows of featured titles just to see the cover designs and textures. Hats off to those who invest smartly in their book cover design as no quick-and-dirty, cheap-as-chips cover design job ever leaves you with something that beckons from the shelf.