If this issue resonates for you, the first thing we would suggest — first, last, and always — is to read your contract. Only there can you discern what the original agreement was, and what you signed off on. In 99.99 times out of a hundred, the publisher retains the rights to the cover image. What this means is that if you part company with them but still want to self-publish your book on your own, you must come up with a new cover design.
Melissa Bowersock, at Indies Unlimited, tells us that there are legal reasons for this based on where the cover art came from. So, it’s not a matter of your old publisher being nasty. When I left my previous publisher, I wanted new covers because old, out-of-print editions of books seem to remain on Amazon forever. I can still find books my father wrote in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Most of these are there because third-party seller frequently use Amazon as their preferred site for reselling books in their collections or warehouses.
So, I thought it best to begin with a new cover to keep my new editions from getting mixed up with the old ones. Some publishers will let you keep the old covers if you’re willing to buy them. Might work, or might not work. I did it once because one publisher never managed to get the books into print.
Interesting article and a part of book publishing to keep in mind when your publisher goes out of business or when you want a fresh start.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of satire, magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels. Click on my name for more information.