Just my thoughts

Change book cover art work for iBooks

If you bought an iPad and you are as frugal as I am (wait, do those two things go together?), then you undoubtedly downloaded a few of the free books from the iBooks store. I am really glad that Apple repurposed content from the Project Gutenberg collection of public domain books. Project Gutenberg has an astounding selection of classics all available for free!

But one of the things I noticed about these books is that they have a generic cover with the title appearing in dynamic text. After a little poking around in the iBooks EPUB files, I noticed that Apple is grabbing the cover art from some Apple specific data they add to the EPUB files (more on this in a future blog post). This makes sense since there doesn't appear to be an industry standard for displaying cover art in a reader. If there is no cover art specified, it seems they are just dynamically adding the title over a generic cover,

I started to think of a way to easily add the necessary info to the EPUB files via a perl script when I though perhaps Apple already has a way that is a little simpler. Then it occurred to me that since books appear in iTunes just like music, perhaps the same trick to add album art would work for book covers...and it did!

Here is what to do:

  1. Open iTunes and click on Books
  2. Select the book you want to add cover art to and select Get Info from the File menu
  3. Click on the Artwork tab
  4. Click the Add... button select the file that contains the image you want to use for the cover art. Alternatively, you can paste an image from your clipboard into the box.
  5. Click OK and you are done.
The next time you sync, the new cover art will appear!

A couple notes. First, it seems to impact performance of loading the iBooks shelf if you use really large images. I think it would be best to scale the image down before adding it. Second, you may ask were you can get cover art. I don't have a good answer—if you do, please leave a comment. I know for music many people would grab the CD cover from Amazon. I don't wish to tackle the legality or ethics of this, so I will leave that step up to you dear reader.

If you have a better way to add cover art or have a thought about this process, please leave me a comment.

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