Click here to skip to this page's main content.

 Hello!   The State of New Jersey is participating in our eBook lending program. Browse the growing lending library of over 250,000 eBooks!

Site Search

Site Search
Last edited by George
April 14, 2011 | History

Open Library Covers API

Our Covers API provides a programmatic method to access the book covers and author photos available in the Open Library Covers Repository.

Guidelines for Cover Use

  1. Please, do not crawl our cover API. If you do, we may decide to block your crawl. Our covers are available for download in bulk on archive.org (example), but, it's a bit of a jungle in there, and is updated regularly.
  2. If you want to display covers on public-facing pages, please use a src URL that points to covers.openlibrary.org. For example, if you'd like to call a cover using an ISBN, you can do it like this:
    <img src="http://covers.openlibrary.org/b/isbn/9780385533225-S.jpg" />
  3. A courtesy link back to Open Library is appreciated, whether it be on each individual book's page (where you can link back to the book's page on Open Library, for example, using the same ISBN http://openlibrary.org/isbn/9780385533225), or on your About page or in your footer.

Thanks!

How To

Book covers can be accessed using Cover ID (internal cover ID), OLID (Open Library ID), ISBN, OCLC, LCCN and other identifiers like librarything and goodreads.

The covers are available in 3 sizes:

  1. S: Small, suitable for use as a thumbnail on a results page on Open Library,
  2. M: Medium, suitable for display on a details page on Open Library and,
  3. L: Large

The URL pattern to access book covers is:

http://covers.openlibrary.org/b/$key/$value-$size.jpg

Where:

  • key can be any one of ISBN, OLCC, LCCN, OLID and ID (case-insensitive)
  • value is the value of the chosen key
  • size can be one of S, M and L for small, medium and large respectively.

By default it returns a blank image if the cover cannot be found. If you append ?default=false to the end of the URL, then it returns a 404 instead.

The following example returns small sized cover image for book with ISBN 0385472579.

http://covers.openlibrary.org/b/isbn/0385472579-S.jpg

The same cover can be accessed in multiple ways using different keys:


Author Photos

Author photos can be accessed using OLID and ID.

The URL Pattern for accessing author photos is:

http://covers.openlibrary.org/a/$key/$value-$size.jpg

For example the following is the photograph of Donald E. Knuth from the Open Library.

 

Rate Limiting

The cover access by ids other than CoverID and OLID are rate-limited. Currently only 100 requests/IP are allowed for every 5 minutes.

If any IP tries to access more that the allowed limit, the service will return "403 Forbidden" status.

 

Bulk Access

The covers API is intended for displaying covers on public facing websites and not for bulk download.

If you are interested to download the covers in bulk, please download them from:

Each of these archive.org items have 100 tar files, each containing 10K images in each. The names of these files are based on the cover ids. For example, s_covers_0005_32.tar file contains images for CoverIDs from 5320000 to 5329999.

The mapping from various IDs to CoverIDs is available at:

http://www.archive.org/download/ol_dump_2011-03-31/ol_dump_coverids_2011-03-31.txt.gz

It has 4 columns ID-Name, ID-Value, OL-KEY and CoverID.

History Created October 27, 2008 · 29 revisions

May 3, 2011 Edited by George Edited without comment.
April 14, 2011 Edited by Anand Chitipothu Edited without comment.
April 14, 2011 Edited by Anand Chitipothu Edited without comment.
April 14, 2011 Edited by Anand Chitipothu Edited without comment.
October 27, 2008 Created by Anand Chitipothu covers api docs