Thinking about ebooks and covers. Of course a cover is supposed to give you an idea of what the book is like, is supposed to inspire a sale. But on ebook commerce sites (say, Amazon or iBookstore), you only see a tiny icon of a cover
So, some people think you should see the cover when you open the book. I'm not one of them. Let's take a look first at what is the norm right now. I downloaded the sample of John Grisham's The Litigators from the iBookstore, Kindle store, and Barnes & Noble. When I opened the sample on each device, this is what I saw:
As you can see both Kindle (left) and iPad (as well as iPhone, not shown) open to the first page of the novel.
Only the NOOK Color opened to the cover.
If you're reading on a NOOK, you then have to scroll through eight pages of front matter (copyright, toc, title page, etc.) to get to the first page. That's annoying (and may not discourage a sale if just the sample has been downloaded).
If you're reading on Kindle or iBooks, you have to scroll back several pages to get to the cover, which is indeed the first page of the EPUB file, but it's there if you want to go see it.
Or, if you're on an iPad (but not iPhone), you can see the cover by going to the navigational TOC and rotating the iPad to a horizontal position:
So, what's going on here? How can you control how and when the cover appears? First, you have to create a page in your EPUB document for your cover. It should be a separate XHTML file so you can ensure that it is the first page in your ebook, and so you can ensure that the cover image appears full screen. I explain how to do this in my “EPUB Straight to the Point” book. It basically consists of having the XHTML file be the first file referenced in the
<spine>section of your content.opf file.
So, if the cover is the first page of the EPUB or Kindle file, why isn't it the first thing showing when you open a book for the first time? You can control which page opens first in the EPUB by including a line in the
<guide>section of your content.opf file, with the
typeattribute set to text. (A value of start also works, but text is the standard value, accepted by the EPUB spec.)
<reference type="text" title="Chapter 1" href="chapter1.xhtml" />
This works on both iBooks and Kindle. I'm guessing that NOOK doesn't support this feature, and that's why the EPUB file (which should theoretically be the same for iBooks and NOOK and other EPUB compatible ereaders) starts with the first page of the book (the cover) instead of where the publisher specified.