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Increase Sales with Amazing Book Photographs

4 Photography Tips For the Online Bookseller

You only get one chance to make a first impression. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. When it comes to selling books online it couldn’t be more true. This article covers 4 steps to take great book photographs and make your pictures drive sales. In this blog we’re going to cover things that can drastically impact your pictures including:

  • book orientation
  • lighting
  • flash
  • editing

1. Orientation

Amazon has recently opened up a “bricks and mortar” bookshop in Seattle. It is touting the fact that each book is displayed cover out. They understand the importance of presentation.

When we began taking photos of books for our store we took them at an angle. The idea was you would see the spine clearly. Unfortunately, this also meant a partial view of the cover. That method made for unattractive and unsuccessful pictures. Why was this such a huge mistake?

We didn’t give anyone a compelling reason to click on our book!

We changed the book’s orientation so it faced forward and our products immediately looked better.

Also, as a bonus, when advertising on social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook, a photo where the book cover is front & center will get more attention for your pin or post, which drives click-throughs and increases sales.

Great Book Photographs Orientation
The photo on the left doesn’t do this beautiful book justice. The fine detail is hidden by the three-quarters angle. The photo on the right is a much more striking image and displays the book in an attractive way.

2. Lighting

Nothing kills your photograph like poor lighting. If your book looks dark and dingy in photographs people will pass by your offering to one that is presented more professionally. Natural light is great but usually not too practical for pictures of books. We use a light box with 3 clipped lights. One light is placed on each side of the book while another light is overhead. This orientation illuminates the book very well and eliminates shadows. We do this all against a white background.

Great Book Photographs Lighting
The photo on the left shows a book in dull, lifeless light. The entire image has taken on a depressing brown hue. The photo on the right shows the same book in proper lighting. Which one would you buy?

3. Flash

As much as you might be tempted, stay away from the flash. Using your camera’s flash will reflect light off the book and your picture will show flash glare. If you use proper lighting you will not need the flash. (For the best results use AV settings on your camera & see the difference for yourself)

Great Book Photographs Flash
The photo on the left is taken with the flash and shows flash glare in two spots. The glare obscures the book cover as distracts from the image. The photo on the right is taken without the flash. The image is clear and not marred by glare.

4. Editing

You don’t need to be a special effects wizard to properly edit a picture. Cropping, retouching, and enhancing a picture can make it much more attractive. We crop each picture so the book is 99% of the picture, leaving just a little white around the edges.

You want the product to be front and center, not in the background. Retouch the edges of the picture if needed but do not retouch the book portion. Retouching the book will misrepresent your product and no customer is going to appreciate that. If your picture comes out a little on the dark side, you may want to enhance the photo. The free editing software you have installed on your computer is enough to handle all these small, but necessary, tweaks.

Great Book Photographs Editing
The photo on the left leaves way too much background while the photo on the right is cropped to highlight the book only.

As you can see, Great book photographs to entice buyers can be achieved with a few simple tweaks to: orientation, lighting, flash, and editing.

We’d love to hear from you! If you have questions about taking your book product photos let us know and we’d be happy to look into them.