With so many authors joining the technical revolution and uploading their own self-published books as Kindle edition e-books on Amazon’s website, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the cover artwork chosen for those electronic books meets proper legal standards.
If not, one may receive an email from Amazon like this tech gadgets reporter did, after erroneously making the assumption that it was okay to use a photo displayed on Amazon as the cover of an e-book. Amazon in fact does allow Kindle authors to use certain images they have pre-designated specifically for that purpose as a part of their ‘Kindle Cover Creator’ module, as well as allowing affiliates within the Amazon Associates referral program to display a variety of products as well.
However, when unsure of whether an image falls within the royalty-free realm, your best bet could be to have your own original e-book cover made using companies like Artwork Abode, so that you know for sure you hold the rights to the work. Additional options include utilizing stock photo websites such as Bigstockphoto.com or iStockPhoto.com to purchase images based on whichever standard or extended license is applicable.
If not, an email could appear in your inbox, stating that Amazon has received a notice from a third party claiming that the appropriate rights holder may not properly authorize the distribution of the book cover’s art associated with the title in question that you submit for sale through the Amazon Kindle Store. As a result, Amazon could suspend sales of your work, pending further investigation, and eventually list the e-book as “blocked” within the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing module, and potentially expect any compensation due the infringed-upon third party to be made correct. Of course, if your book ended up bringing more attention or business to the company in question, they might agree to a “creative exchange” type of deal, whereby they call it even with you based on any advertisement you brought them.
However, it’s safest to use the artwork you know is legal – and it can also be beneficial to pay for cover art that helps your book stand out from the rest of the crowd. As they say, people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but they often do just that. So much so that there have been independent studies from folks who try and determine what things best-selling books have in common, and whether or not those features are a big contributing factor to the book’s success, such as the colors blue and brown being a common cover hue in books that tend to sell well.
No matter what, we know it’s the writing contained within the book that really helps bring good word of mouth – however, most people only get to the words after being drawn in by the cover. Especially now that Amazon is launching its new “Netflix for books” type of service called “Kindle Unlimited,” whereby users can pay nearly $10 per month to read any Kindle book they’d like to read, it’s even more important to authors to garner compelling covers that make readers want to download the books and legal teams want to stay away from them.