what's wrong with this picture?

Yes, that was a trick question. There is everything wrong with these pictures. As a matter of fact there is nothing right about them.

Since the majority of digital cameras take images that are worlds better than this, I can only assume that these were taken with a cheap cell phone. This is bad.

Basic bookselling rule #. . . . . I dunno lets make it #3: If you don’t have a digital camera and you wish to sell books on the net….GET ONE and learn to use it. . . . And you DON’T need the best one on the market. If you read your manual and understand your tool you can get by with something well under 100 dollars.

Craig Stark over at BookThink has a few thoughtful articles on how to photograph books.

Lighting. If your subject is well lighted, by a couple of desk lamps or in a bright room with one indirect desk lamp, you won’t need a flash. The flash will only cause reflection. If you have tried lighting and still can’t get good shots, get a table top tripod and use the 10 second delay setting on your camera. Experiment, this is an important part of selling and once you have a method you can use it over and over again.

Sharpness. Take a few shots, find the closest point where your book will be in focus. With my point and shoot digital camera it is about 8 inches, so I attached a lanyard that is 8 inches long. Check your focus before you shoot, and shoot a few frames of varying distances. Those little screens on the back of the camera make it hard to tell if you image is sharp. You should have a few images to choose from.

At right is a book from Coelacanth Books, imagery doesn’t get any better than that. And she is using basic household items, a foam core backdrop and a couple of clip on work lights at angles to each other. Total cost about $20.

Background. I don’t want to see your carpet, or your linoleum or your baseboard or your cat’s dishes, or anything else that isn’t book. Get a white sheet or a black cardboard. Better yet, make a backdrop that is light on one side and dark on the other. When you aren’t using it, stick it behind the couch.

Editing. Once you have an image your work is NOT done. Crop it down to just the the book and little margin, adjust the contrast, tweak what you have to to make the image look as close to the book as possible. I would not advise you to make it look BETTER than the actual book, that naughty and only makes people angry. Get some photo editing software.. you don’t need Photoshop, there is plenty of free stuff out there. Gimp is a free Open Source software that mimics Photoshop nicely. There are quite a few others, heck even Picasa and Flickr now let you edit your images.

Oh I can hear you whining now. . . “but but but I can’t afford to BUY a camera until I sell some books.. ” then put the book on a scanner and scan it! But stop whining, it makes you sound pathetic.

(I confessed my writer’s block looking for suggestions and the best one that came in was that I should get angry about something. Which as you can guess wasn’t difficult for me)

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