Saturday Q & A With the Book Designer 03: Book Cover Wrap

by | Jun 4, 2011

This week’s video answers the question of how to calculate the size of your book cover wrap. A lot of people find this confusing, but about 8 minutes from now you will know the answer and get to see a cover come together on screen, you won’t want to miss that.

Here I’m trying out a screencast video. Using software to record my computer screen, I can show you in detail exactly what I’m doing and explain why as you watch. I love these types of instructional videos and find them by far the easiest way to learn something new, particularly with software.

In fact, I watched two instructional screencasts while I was preparing this one. I think it came out pretty well for a first attempt, what do you think?

Since I’m still learning this technology, I’ve got a ways to go before the video (and the audio) are as good as I would like them to be.

Give my your feedback in the comments. Do you find this a better learning experience? Let me know.

If you have a question you’d like me to address next week, leave it in the comments. (If you can’t see the video, please reload or refresh the page.)

Discussed in this video:

  • Calculating book spine width
  • Using the Lightning Source cover template generator
  • Assembling a book cover in Adobe InDesign
  • How to calculate spine width if you know the number of pages and the paper’s pages-per-inch (PPI) specification

Additional resources:

Lightning Source Book Cover Templates for DIY Self-Publishers

Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers

Book Covers, Dust Jackets and Casewrap Books

If you would like a more complete treatment of these topics, make sure you’re on my newsletter subscriber list. You’ll be the first to hear when I issue new resources and e-learning materials.

I’m working on an exciting course specifically designed for new self-publishers, but it’s only going to be offered to subscribers. If you’re interested, get on the list now.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Shelley Buck

    Thanks for the explanation, Joel. Knowing that untangles the pathway considerably.

  2. Shelley Buck

    Thanks Joel. Great video. It was extremely helpful to actually see the cover getting popped into the template, piece by piece. Here’s a follow up question on preferred file formats for when using Illustrator with LS – something you already touched on a bit: If a cover is for Lightning Source in Illustrator, would the designer then be obliged to save it as an EPS file and use the EPS template? Or could the PDF LS template be used with Illustrator? Or should a designer just pop an Illustrator AI file into InDesign? (Cut and paste? Place?) Many thanks for any suggestions.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Shelley, the InDesign templates from LSI are actual files you can use as I did in the video to assemble the pieces for your cover. The PDF and EPS templates are more like fixed guides that you would use as a base layer to guide you when creating your artwork. What LSI will need to print the cover is a PDF file in the PDF/X-1a format. You can output that from Illustrator or place an Illustrator or an EPS file into InDesign and create the PDF from there. As long as the resulting PDF is correct, it doesn’t matter which application created it.

  3. Marla Markman

    Hi Joel,
    I found this very informative. I love watching these types of videos. I learn much better by seeing a tutorial rather reading about it. Keep ’em coming!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for the feedback, Marla, that’s just what I was looking for. I love them too, and find it the easiest way to learn something new, particularly with software.

  4. bettymingliu

    just watched your video and found it very informative! my suggestion — try to satisfy both kinds of readers on these screencast posts. in other words, give us the video. but also, post a few images of the screenshots. that way, we can just scroll through it briefly and if we want more, we can opt to click onto the video. i know this is more work but i’ve seen it done on other blogs and it’s very effective!

    btw, you’re inspiring me because i’ve been wanting to do screencasts too. are you making them by using quicktime on your mac?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for the suggestion, Betty, I hadn’t seen that done with screenshots but it makes sense, I’ll try it.

      This was made with Screenflow, it’s $99 for the Mac and is really a nice piece of software, although I’m a complete newbie I managed to do this video with only a bit of training.

  5. Ralph Alcorn

    I don’t know, Joel. For myself, I hate podcasts or instructional videos. I would rather read text unless it is a subject that requires 3 dimensional knowledge.

    • Joel Friedlander

      You’re not alone, Ralph, I’ve had other readers say exactly the same thing. In this case you could also do it with text with accompanying illustrations, and I’ve written many of those articles. I’m trying to give the more visually attuned a means of taking in the same ideas. We’ll see. Thanks for the feedback.

  6. Dana Ross Martin

    What a GREAT way to do this Saturday Q&A. I learn so-much-better while SEEING your examples and HEARING you describe what’s going on.
    More of this, please.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Dana, I think this is the direction online instruction is moving, and I’m quite excited about it.



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