One of the advantages of ebooks over paper books is the former’s pages and covers don’t have to be in accord dimensionally. In other words, it’s perfectly OK for ebook covers and pages to be different sizes. Further, you don’t have to be concerned about how thick or heavy your ebook will be, as it is always displayed on a device whose size remains constant. Still, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to satisfy ebook marketplace requirements.
Here’s what you need to know about eBook cover specifications.
Your cover should be presented in a portrait orientation rather than landscape. In other words, it needs to be taller than it is wide. The typical ratio is 6:9, though this isn’t a strictly enforced requirement. In terms of pixels, the generally agreed-upon width is a minimum of 1400, while height is pegged at 2100. However, those numbers can usually be pushed a bit. The recommended resolution is 72 dpi and the maximum file size should be kept to 2 MB or less. Preferred file formats are usually JPG, PNG, or TIFF.
With That Said…
It’s a good idea to consult the guidelines of the platforms upon which you will be selling ebooks online to ensure you conform to their exact specifications. Major sellers ask for the following…
Kindle Direct Publishing: “Requirements for the size of your cover art have an ideal height/width ratio of 1.6; this means a minimum of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest side. For best quality, your image would be 1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest side.”
- eBook Cover Size: 1563 x 2500 pixels
- File Formats: JPG, TIFF
Apple iBooks: Covers should be at least 1400 pixels wide.
- eBook Cover Size: 1400 x 1873 pixels / 1600 x 2400 pixels
- File Formats: JPG, PNG
Google Books: “Provide your content in both ePub and PDF format to give your readers more viewing options. However, only one format is required.”
- eBook Cover Size: 1618 x 2500 pixels
- File Formats: JPG, PNG, TIFF
Other Cover Considerations
Your cover title should always match your internal title, as well as the title you assign in its metadata description. A singularly distinctive entity, your cover should be unique from all other published works, so as to avoid being confused with another ebook. The only exception to this requirement would be subsequent editions of previously published books.
Additionally, you should be careful to respect the ownership rights of all creative elements used on the cover of the book. This holds for photography, illustrations, and typestyles. You will also need to be certain you have the rights to use those elements in a commercial endeavor.
There is Still Room for Creativity
While there is some social validity to the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, people who buy books do so every day. If you want your book to have the best possible chance to attract a shopper’s attention, you’ll figure out a way to work within these guidelines, while still managing to produce something capable of arresting the attention of a casual browser.
Like any other creative endeavor, much of what you do with an ebook cover is open to your imagination—as long as you stay within the above guidelines. Yes, it might seem difficult to the uninitiated, but people manage to pull this off every single day. If you’re unsure of how to proceed on your own, hiring an experienced cover designer is always the best way to go.