Where to find photos for a book cover?

What is the best place to find photos for your book cover? That's what every writer wants to know. Because we all know that most people do exactly what the old saying tells them not to: judge the book by its cover. Book cover design is what will make or break your book sales, and the image used in your cover needs to be perfect in order to succeed.

The best way to find the perfect photos for your book cover is through a stock photography agency, which offers Royalty Free images for e-books and paper book covers. In stock photo agencies you’ll find variety, quality, and very convenient prices in images for book covers that are immediately available to use. 

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Book Cover Design: Images are a Must

How and Where to Get Photos for your Cover Design

There are two main ways to get your images to use in your cover:

– Create them from scratch: You can hire a photographer to shoot photos, which will cost you a significant amount of money and will demand some time. Of course, you can snap the photos yourself if you have the skills and that will save you cash, but will add work to your load.

Buy stock photos: Stock photo agencies sell photos that are already made and ready to use. They have huge online catalogs you can surf, with thousands to millions of options to choose from. These images are very affordable (much more than hiring a custom shoot) and their immediate availability also means you can have your cover ready much sooner.

I think it's a no-brainer that stock photography is a great option to go with to create a cover for your book or e-book!

Stock Images for Book Covers: Licenses and Costs

Most online stock photo agencies selling cheap stock images work with a Royalty-Free license, as it’s one of the most flexible and affordable licensing models out there. You only pay once, and you get a number of usage rights over the image, forever.

However, the Standard Royalty-Free license comes with some restrictions. The one you care about knowing is the print run limit: every agency sets a limit of physical or digital reproductions you can distribute of an image. Obviously, this has a direct effect when you intend to use a photo in a book or e-book cover.
Before you get disappointed, there’s two good news:

1. Print Run Limit is Wide Enough – There are several agencies whose print run limit in Standard license is large enough, so many of you book publishers out there don’t have to worry.
Stockphotos.com, for example, offers all HD images under a Standard License that allows up to 500,000 copies. A photo with a Standard license can cost you from $4.20 to $12 each using image packs and between just $0.29 and $0.49 per image with different subscription options. A very, very conveniently low cost for your book cover image!

2. There is also an Extended License – Even if your intended distribution exceeds the Standard print run, these agencies tend to include an Extended License option that, for a higher yet still affordable price, gives you access to unlimited copies! Even if you can do with the Standard limit, it’s a smart move to invest in an Extended license from the start: if your book sales rise, and you increase your distribution, you will already have the rights to your book cover image assured.
Stockphotos.com has one of the lowest-priced Extended Licenses around, starting at just $70 per photo and down to $38 per image when buying larger packs, but if you have an active subscription (for standard licenses) you access to an exclusive members' discount of 50% for Extended licenses, meaning you'll pay only between $19 and $35 per Extended licensed image! These images come with an unlimited print run and include the right to use in products for resale, whose huge benefits you’re about to find out.

Book Cover Images and Marketing: One Stock Photo to Solve Them All

Once you have the perfect book cover design and your distribution plan ready, you still have to outline your marketing strategy. Promoting your book is an integral part of making it the next best-seller. And this is where your book cover image comes around again.

Keeping visual consistency is a top marketing practice, as any designer or marketer can tell you. Most likely you will be using the same photo from your book or e-book cover in your marketing campaign: ads, banners, social media posts, etc. Luckily, the Royalty Free license you acquire will likely cover all these uses. StockPhotoSecrets Shop’s license certainly does.

Photos for Book Cover and Extended License: Make Extra Money from your Book

A successful book or e-book can make you earn much more than just book sales if you have a mind for business, and you’re armed with an Extended License for your book cover photos. How?

One word: merchandising. If your book sells successfully, and your marketing campaign makes it to create a hype about it, you will have the chance to capitalize on that hype by selling items related to your book. A merchandise program can include anything from posters and cards to t-shirts, mugs and beyond. The sky’s the limit.

A Standard license will not cover this intended use, because it forbids the sale of the images for a direct profit. But if you get an Extended License, in addition to unlimited copies you will be granted the right to use the photo in products for resale, which is exactly what you need to sell items with the image on them.

If you think about it, it’s a very little investment that will not only solve any distribution limitation for your book cover, but also give you endless earning possibilities through merchandising.

Bonus Online & Stock Resources for Book Cover Design

High-quality photos are not the only thing you will find in stock photo agencies that will help you with the design for your book. In these outlets and around the web, you will find valuable tools to complete your design.

Illustrations – A good design strategy for your cover is to go for high-quality illustrations instead of photography. And you can buy great vector illustrations that are professional-grade and very easy to edit! Find out how and where in our list of the best 6 sites for stock illustrations. 

Templates – If you want to keep costs low and speed the process, you can benefit from the various graphic templates that agencies put at your fingertips. These are often available in their stock media library, and they include book cover templates that make your –or your designer's, life easier. Whether it's a simple layout for a front cover or a double-sided printing design to add an internal label, most stock agencies have templates for it, and you've to do is edit your text and images. Stock Photo Secrets Shop has a nice selection of graphic templates ready to download, for example.

Simple Editors – If you have some skill level when it comes to graphics, there's a lot of free online editing tools that would make a great cover creator. Many of them are very easy to use and while they will not have the power of a professional premium editor, they can be more than enough to edit templates or to create simple designs using images and text. You can find several such tools in this great list of alternatives to Adobe Illustrator by Vectorguru. 

Get your Next Book Cover Photo in a Stock Photo Agency

This is one of the wisest (and simplest!) ways to get the ideal book or e-book cover image and ensure your book’s success, all at once.

Stock photos are high quality, there’s a lot of variety to choose from, they’re ready to download and use, and they’re a very cost-effective solution. By investing as little as just over forty dollars, you will have a resource that will potentially earn you thousands or more, right at your fingertips.

If you’re ready to pick your book cover photo right now, you should definitely explore Stockphotos.com, where you will find not only beautiful images for your book cover but also the best and most convenient offers in both Standard and Extended License!

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

Amos Struck, a renowned expert with over two decades in the stock photography industry, is known for his profound expertise in both stock imagery and artificial intelligence (AI). He is the founder of StockPhotoSecrets.com and a driving force behind the innovative AI-driven platform, Stockphotos.com. His pioneering work in visual AI is marked by co-founding Ximilar AI. Amos also established the Microstock Expo Conference, a key event in the stock photography sector. As a regular speaker at major industry conferences like DMLA and a prominent member of CEPIC, he consistently contributes to the industry's growth and evolution through a blend of technological innovation and market insight.

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