Monday, July 17, 2023

The Great Barcode Debate: Should Authors Place Barcodes on the Back of Their Book Covers?

When it comes to the design and layout of book covers, authors are faced with numerous decisions that can influence the overall presentation and marketability of their work. One particular debate revolves around the placement of barcodes on book covers. Some authors opt to include the barcode on the back cover, while others choose to leave it off entirely. In this article, we explore both perspectives and shed light on the considerations authors should weigh when deciding whether to include barcodes on the back of their book covers.

Pros of Placing Barcodes on the Back Cover:

Aesthetics and Design: Placing the barcode on the back cover allows authors to maintain the visual integrity and impact of their front cover design. By keeping the front cover free from any distracting elements, such as barcodes, authors can create a more visually appealing and engaging first impression for potential readers.

Enhanced Readability: With the barcode located on the back cover, the front cover remains unobstructed, allowing the title, author's name, and cover art to be more easily read and appreciated. This can be especially important for covers with intricate designs or captivating imagery that could potentially be compromised by the presence of a barcode.

Customization and Personalization: Leaving the back cover free from barcodes provides authors with an opportunity for additional customization. They can use the available space to include quotes, endorsements, or a brief author bio, creating a more personalized and compelling reading experience for potential buyers.

Cons of Placing Barcodes on the Back Cover:

Convenience and Accessibility: Placing the barcode on the back cover may create a minor inconvenience for retailers and bookstores. With the barcode on the back, booksellers must physically flip the book to scan the barcode during the checkout process. This extra step could be a deterrent for some retailers, especially those with high volumes of sales.

Industry Standards: In certain regions or markets, there may be industry expectations for barcodes to be placed on the back cover. Deviating from these standards could lead to confusion or difficulties for retailers and distributors, potentially affecting the book's distribution and availability in certain channels.

Genre and Target Audience: The decision to place the barcode on the back cover may depend on the book's genre and target audience. Some genres, such as non-fiction or technical books, may benefit from having the barcode readily accessible on the back cover for quick identification and purchasing. On the other hand, fiction or visually-driven books might prioritize aesthetics over barcode visibility.

What I do:

As an author with more than 100 books, I NEVER put a bar code on my back  cover, I leave that up to the distributor as it is more practical. It keeps me from having to update my cover if I change my price and that way, it meets each distributors’ standards.


The placement of barcodes on book covers is a matter of personal choice, influenced by factors such as aesthetics, convenience, industry norms, and target audience considerations. Authors should carefully weigh the pros and cons before making their decision. While placing barcodes on the back cover may offer enhanced visual appeal, readability, and customization options, it is essential to consider the potential inconvenience for retailers and adherence to industry standards.

Ultimately, authors should strive to strike a balance between artistic integrity and practicality. It may be worthwhile to consult with publishers, distributors, or experienced professionals in the publishing industry to gain insights specific to their book's genre and target audience. Regardless of the choice made, authors should remember that the cover design, including barcode placement, plays a significant role in attracting readers and conveying the essence of their work.