Wednesday, January 30, 2008


While we're talking about images this week, a few of you have asked where I get the pics for my e-book cover art. Most I make from my own photographs, paintings, digital art and works in other mediums. I've hired a few people to design cover art for special projects for me, too.

Very recently, however, I've been purchasing royalty-free photos for my e-book cover art from Dreamstime. I'm very impressed by the service and the quality of the photos I've purchased there. I absolutely love the site's search engine. You can also earn credits by uploading your own photos (subject to approval by Dreamstime) so if you're a great photographer it can become like a barter system. Some images are made available for free download every day, another bonus.

When you buy photos from a royalty-free service like Dreamstime, you need to read the terms and conditions of use very carefully. I was fine with all the terms, but I still wasn't sure about using Dreamstime's images on cover art for a promotional e-book. Although use in free/promotional items is permitted, an e-book has to be downloaded in .pdf format by the reader, which might qualify it as redistribution as they defined it; a definite no-no in their terms. So I used their online help form, explained what I wanted to do, and asked them if it was okay. Within 24 hours I received this answer:

Thank you for contacting us. It is acceptable with the regular royalty free license to use the images on e-book covers as long as you comply with our other terms (i.e. no sensitive material*, etc.) Feel free to contact us with any further questions.

Very quick and classy. I like that.

According to the site, Dreamstime has over 26,000 contributing photographers as well as 500,000 registered members. When you buy an image, you get to pick from more than two million images in their online archive. Given the range of styles, subjects and talent, there is probably something there for everyone. The site also offers a wide range of package deals for the subscriber/photo buyer, and while I rarely recommend a service you have to pay for, you can get Dreamstime photos for as little as twenty-nine cents each. You just can't beat that price.

*As defined in the section on unauthorized use -- trademarks, pornography, violation of a person's privacy, etc.


  1. I love Dreamstime! I got the photo I used for the cover of my free ebook from there, and all the images I used for my website design. Total cost for everything? $5

  2. Anonymous6:57 AM I wish I would have known about dreamstime a few days ago. My mom's a graphic designer and she's going to design me a couple of trading card type things like the one you showed us last week. Using the cover for the heroine's pic and wanted to do one for the hero.

    Spent hours literally trying to find a decent image at some of the stock photo sites that wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg.

    Ended up finding one at They've got some nice images there and as long as it's used in a 'not-for-profit' manner, the prices are great.

  3. Anonymous8:31 AM

    That sounds like a really cool site! I don't use other people's photos for much, but I am a photographer by hobby and I will probably share some of my photos there so someone gets use out of them!

  4. I second this endorsement. This is the site I use too. Great selection, very good prices. I found shots that work for crew pictures in a promo quiz I put together.

  5. Thanks for this link! I keep putzing around with getting a wordpress site done, and one of my concerns is artwork. I'll definitely be spending some time this weekend looking through the images.


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