2D or not 2D? That is the Question

by | Oct 15, 2009

The cover of your book plays many crucial roles in the marketing of your book. But for many people, the first time they’ll see the cover is in a listing online, an Amazon page, or an email.

This makes the representation of your cover in electronic form even more important than ever. And if you are producing ebooks, this is the only format in which the book exists.

Your Cover’s Modeling Career

Rather than the traditional, flat, 2-dimensional image of the book cover as on Amazon pages, many marketers use 3-dimensional renderings of their books. I have to admit I find these very seductive.

Although the flat cover is easier to read, truer to the design intent, and displays typography much better, there is something about the “bookiness” of these images, the very solid feeling of dimensionality that captures my attention, and makes me think of the book as something with a physical reality, something I could hold in my hand.

These images are can be produced by creating 3D models in Adobe Photoshop CS4 and putting “skins” on the models for different covers, or they can be created by dedicated rendering software.

Case Study

Take a look at these two versions of the cover of Body Types:

Body Types 2D

Body Types 2D

Body Types 3D

Body Types 3D

To me, the 3D rendering really pulls me in, I want to own the book.

I’ve seen people claim that this type of graphic will outsell the 2D version by 30%. However, I’ve never seen a study cited to prove this, so I consider it an unreliable and therefore meaningless statistic. But based on my own reaction, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.

What’s your reaction to these two covers? Which one “sells” better for you?

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. richard alan

    Although the 3D is aesthetically more pleasing, I can’t read what it says on the cover. Being able to read it is important to me, therefore I would not have bought the book. I’m used to seeing book covers flat.

    I’m really enjoying your posts and reports. Thank you.

  2. Harper Jayne

    I honestly think that for non-fiction books the 3D is a more viable option than on fiction books. I think there’s a place for 3D images in fiction. As actual product photographs in specific use. (Blog posts and the like.)

  3. Aric Mitchell

    Hi Joel,

    Since it’s non-fiction, I’m okay with the 3D cover, but generally on an eReader, I prefer 2D because, well, the 3D reminds me too much of those get-rich-quick eBooks that sell through Clickbank. Psychologically, I think the 3D cover cheapens a book’s “heft” on an eReader. It makes you feel like you’re reading in an inferior format, and that if you want the “real” book, you’ll have to order a print copy. Of course, I realize this sort of thing is completely subjective, but psychological impressions never were supposed to make sense, were they?

    By the way, fantastic site. I’ve been eating up the articles.



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