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How to: Creating custom iBook covers

Do you find yourself downloading a lot of the free Project Gutenberg public domain books in the iBookstore? Sick of your bookshelf looking like a series of paper bags with text printed on them? Me too, so I decided to create my own covers for all the free books I've downloaded.

If you've ever added custom album artwork to an iTunes song, you get the basic idea of how to change the cover art of a Project Gutenberg book in your iTunes library. If you haven't, I'll quickly list the steps here:
  1. In your iTunes library, select the Books category in the source list.
  2. Select any book that shows it has no cover, right click on it, and select "Get Info."
  3. Select the "Artwork" tab.
  4. Drag and drop any image into the white box on the artwork tab and click Okay. Voila! You've just added a custom cover to your ebook.

Where do you get cover images from? Google Image search whatever book you are looking for and add "cover" to the end of the keywords. You'll get a host of results (most from Amazon) of book covers. Keep in mind that most of the covers you will find will have two things against them: they are most likely copyrighted, and their aspect ratio will probably not match the default aspect ratio of the book covers from the iBookstore.

If you want to avoid a lawsuit and have a unified look across your iBooks bookshelf, you can do what I did. For this short tutorial, I decided to make a cover for one of my favorite books, War and Peace.
  1. Find a cover image. For mine, I used a photo I took while on a trip in Russia of a statue of Leo Tolstoy.
  2. Open the photo in any image editing software. Don't crop it yet, give yourself some space to adjust the titles and image.
  3. Create your title: overlay the text you want on the photo. I just added the title of the book and the author's name.
  4. Have everything looking the way you want? Good. Now what you need to do is crop the image to give it the aspect ratio of other iBookstore ebooks. As you'll notice, in my first attempt I came in just a bit short at 414 pixels wide by 600 pixels high. Changing it to 420x599 pixels will give you a more exact match to other iBookstore ebooks covers.
  5. After you've cropped the image, double check that you don't have to readjust any of the text you wrote. Then, if everything looks good, flatten the image into a single layer.
  6. Save your image as a high quality JPEG file.
  7. Now all you have to do is add the image to the ebook file in your iTunes library using the steps listed above and boom! you've got your custom book cover.
You'll see the new cover automatically appear in your books library in iTunes. On the next iPad sync, the new cover will be transferred to your iPad iBooks app.

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iPad

Do you find yourself downloading a lot of the free Project Gutenberg public domain books in the iBookstore? Sick of your bookshelf looking...