Advice on getting more consistent book covers?

The thing that bugs me the most about my books page is how inconsistent covers are. For some reason, many of my books don’t get covers at all. They often have smaller or larger covers, and often vary quite a bit in quality. My process for books is always the same-- search via ISBN from Bookshelf, so that I know for sure that I’m linking to a currently listed copy of the book. But covers and titles are often pretty messy this way.

Any advice?

I’d love to improve this. It does often feel random.

Here are some details about how covers currently work. This will definitely change, but maybe documenting it here will help a little.

  • If you search by ISBN, tries to look up the cover from the ISBNdb service. They usually have good covers, but not always. If this fails, it does a search on Google Books.
  • After a book has been added, will occasionally check the cover and try to “fix” it if it detects that it’s a placeholder image.
  • Epilogue uses Google Books when searching for a title or author. on the web uses Google Books or Open Library. Because we use multiple sources, the cover sizes aren’t consistent, so it may help to use CSS to make them all match.

I think long term we need book curators that can help manage our covers and metadata. I don’t know if there are licensing issues with this, so it’s something I need to look into.

Is there maybe a way can provide cover options? I suspect in many cases my searches do have covers from one of the ways you look, but not from whatever is chosen as primary. I’m sorta guessing since the ISBN and cover URL are “just” data in JSON, performing a search across the options and letting me click one to “replace” the cover URL could at least help me “heal” some.

Maybe that could inform the curation, where you keep a db table somewhere with ISBN, cover_url, and count. This way if someone has explicitly chosen a different URL, you can preference highest count by that ISBN as the first choice option.

I think that makes a lot of sense. By the way, if you want total control over this right now you can manually add a book and upload your own cover:

We could add the cover URL on the edit book page too.