As you probably know, Kindle cover images for the Amazon product catalog can be much larger in both dimensions and file-size than the cover that appears inside the book. The latest Kindle Publishing Guidelines spell it out.
Interestingly, verbiage about the “shortest side” (formerly a minimum of 500px) has been dropped in favor of simplified instructions about the longest side and the ratio of width to height.
Amazon has repeated the information in today’s Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter. Here’s the scoop:
Our new guidelines for cover images require that an image be at least 1,000 pixels on the longest side, though we recommend 2,500 pixels on the longest side to ensure better quality, and an ideal height/width ratio of 1.6. To confirm whether your cover image meets these requirements, right-click the image file and select “Properties.”
The new directive means that the images I’ve been using, at 938×1250 or 900×1200, are a little puny compared to what is now encouraged. Do the math:
The smallest cover permitted for the Kindle catalog is now 625 by 1000 pixels.
The new recommended size is now 1563 x 2500 pixels.
Verify at Amazon KDP: Creating a Catalog/Cover Image: Dimensions
Note that a width of 1562.5 pixels would give you a precise 1.6 aspect ratio, but half a pixel doesn’t work very well. Now that they’ve specified a rounded-up width of 1563 pixels, just go along with it.
Remember that the pixel dimensions are what counts, not the resolution. A pixel is a pixel on the web. It’s only when you’re creating a cover for print media that resolution matters, so that the image prints at the right size and required resolution.
Have fun with this and keep the inside cover at 600×800 pixels, which is not a ratio of 1.6, but about 1.3. This means that you might have a little extra room on the catalog cover if you change the proportions. Note that the ratio of 1.6 is not a requirement. If you want to stick with the same ratio as the inside cover, that’s alright. Start with the bigger cover and reduce it instead of the other way around.
Brad C says
One thing that is missing here is the dpi, at 72 dpi thats a big picture, a 2500 x 1562 is some 20 inches wide, but at the recomended 300 dpi it gets a lot smaller at 5 1/4 x 8 1/3 inches. Which is closer to the A5 page format and the kindle display size. File size may be an issue so usig half the pixel ad half the dpi might be a better choice. With new retina display the 300 dpi would be better, but is it necessary for a cover?
The print size of an image varies with its resolution and the number of dots-per-inch supported by the printer. The screen size of an image depends on its pixel dimensions, not dpi/ppi. It will look bigger or smaller depending on screen resolution, which varies with monitors and eReaders. The same image will appear smaller on a Kindle or Nook than on your computer monitor because these devices have higher resolutions than most monitors.
A 600×800 pixel image will look the same on-screen, whether its 72ppi or 300ppi. You can test this yourself in Photoshop or another graphics program by creating images of the same dimensions at various resolutions. At 100%, they will appear identical.
Amazon uses the catalog cover to make various smaller images and thumbnails, and for the Pan-and-Zoom feature. If you give them a big, non-lossy image, they have more to work with.
If you redo your eBook cover for submission to CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service, you do have to pay attention to resolution. In that case, the cover template dimensions are determined by paper size and spine thickness and the image must be at least 300dpi. The image is enormous on screen, but the print size is correct for CreateSpace.
A couple of articles:
The Myth of DPI
Misunderstandings about dpi
If I’m feeling lazy, and want to create the cover only once, is it safe to use 1800 by 2400 for the catalog cover, then reduce the image down to 600 by 800 for the inside-the-book cover? Or is that likely to cause issues? Would the 1800 by 2400 be too big for catalog? Or get cropped?
Yes, you could reduce the size of your original image to 800×600 for the inside cover. The proportions remain the same so it should work well. Don’t flatten the image first, so text stays sharp.
Your dimensions fall within the guidelines for the catalog cover, so it should be fine. Amazon will process the image to make a variety of thumbnails and the big product image, but I haven’t seen any get cropped.
These guides are great! One thing – if I am asking an artist to create an ilustration for my book – what physical dimensions (ie. not pixels, but in inches/cms) should I get them to do the illustration at?
Araby Greene says
Pixels don’t really translate into inches or centimeters, but if you ask the artist to make the image width and height at a ratio of 1:1.2 or even 1:1.3, it should be fairly easy to scan and then convert to JPG in Photoshop without excessive re-sizing or cropping. For inside the book images, I like 520 x 622 pixels, which fits the inside viewing area of eInk Kindles and leaves space at the bottom for a caption. If necessary, you can make the image taller, but not more than 640 pixels. The same images will look fine on Kindle Fire, which has a rather elongated viewing area.
So, if using standard art paper, seems like it would be feasible to block out an approximate area of 520x622mm (or up to 522×640 mm) or 260×311 (or up to 260x320mm):
If that’s unworkable, a 9×12 image would be usable without losing much when the edges are cleaned up. Images with distinct borders are a little harder to prepare because art is never exactly the right size after scanning, so some tweaking in Photoshop is always necessary.
For covers that look good on most devices, I still use 600 x 800 pixels. Use the same ratio or about 1:1.3 for the artwork.
Sorry for a less than optimal answer. I usually work with what I get and have never received a perfectly sized piece of artwork. If it’s in the ballpark, minor tweaks should be all that’s necessary.
I have a very basic question about uploading cover art – I created my cover with the required pixel dimensions. When I upload the file, the initial thumbnail preview is blurry, but the actual book preview is fine. Is this normal? I tried uploading as both a tiff and a jpg with the same results. I am a relatively experienced graphic designer, but have never used KDP’s site and have never had this problem with other uploads before. I’d like to be able to assure my author that the image will display correctly. Thanks!
Araby Greene says
Yes, it’s normal. The cover preview in KDP always looks like your worst nightmare. The cover in your book and in the Amazon catalog will look fine.
Paul | All Groan Up says
I’ve been up all night trying to figure out this upload image to Kindle thing, and your last comment was music to my exhausted ears. I could not figure out for the life of me how to make my image not pull up pixelated on the preview. But it looks fine in the book preview embed, so I guess I’m all good.
Amazon should have a disclaimer next to the thumbnail, right?!