KINDLE COVER SIZE
You must choose both the size and the shape of your Kindle book cover:
- What aspect ratio is best?
- How many pixels should each dimension be?
You might think that the aspect ratio depends on the device. Not so fast! Which matters more?
- How the cover appears among other thumbnails.
- How the cover looks on the device itself.
Note that customers won’t even see the cover on the device until they buy the book. (And even then, the ‘start’ location will bypass the cover.)
Therefore, it seems more important to consider how the cover looks as a thumbnail.
So here is my suggestion:
- Choose an aspect ratio that will look great as a thumbnail when customers are shopping.
- Choose the pixel dimensions based on the device(s) that you’re targeting.
Of course, the dimensions must match the aspect ratio. The second point really means, “How many pixels should the height be?” (Once you know the aspect ratio and height, the width follows.)
How do customers shop for Kindle books?
That’s the question that determines what aspect ratio will work best for the thumbnail.
Really, you want to ask how ‘your target audience’ will shop for Kindle books. That’s even better than knowing the general answer.
However, with most target audiences, customers shop for Kindle books a few common ways:
- Even when customers own a Kindle device, they often prefer to browse for Kindle books at Amazon.com. It’s convenient, there are more options, you see more results on the screen, and you can send the book wirelessly to your device.
- Many customers also browse for Kindle books on the device itself, which may be a Fire tablet or an iPad, for example. These thumbnails can be quite small, and on some devices they will show in grayscale.
- Other customers will first see your Kindle book cover on your blog, advertised promotion, giveaway, bookmark, or other marketing tool.
What does this mean? It means that your Kindle book cover has to look good with a variety of possibilities in mind:
- It should look great as a thumbnail at Amazon.com.
- It should still look great as a smaller thumbnail on a Fire, iPad, iPhone, etc.
- It should still look great as a black and white thumbnail on a Paperwhite, Kindle DX, etc.
- It should also look great as a thumbnail on your website, in an advertisement, in a contest, on a bookmark, etc.
Actually, that’s only half the battle:
- You want your book cover to look great all by itself.
- You also want your book cover to be effective when it appears among several other thumbnails.
The thumbnail isn’t the only thing that matters. The full-size image matters, too.
But nobody will even check out your full-size image until the thumbnail does its job.
Once you find a design that works for your thumbnail, then you work toward perfecting the full-size image.
So how do you decide what works best?
Go shopping. You don’t have to buy anything. Go window shopping:
- Browse Kindle book covers at Amazon.com on your pc or laptop.
- Also browse Kindle book covers on a Fire tablet. Borrow one, if necessary.
- Also browse Kindle book covers on a black-and-white Kindle device.
Here are some important considerations (remember to look at the Kindle editions):
- Note books where the title was very easy to read.
- Note books where the central image really stood out.
- Note books that had very clear titles and strong central images.
- Note books where the cover looked great in color, but not in grayscale.
- Note books where the cover looked great in grayscale, too.
- What’s most common among books very similar to yours?
This will help you choose a font style and size that read well even in small thumbnails.
This will also help you choose a color scheme that creates great contrast both in color and in grayscale.
But we still have the issue of selecting the best aspect ratio.
So here are more points to consider:
- Which aspect ratios look better to your eye? Does wider or narrower look better? (What you really want to know is, “Which looks better to your target audience?”)
- Do wider or narrower covers seem out of place among other thumbnails?
- Is it easier to read the title on wider or narrower thumbnails?
Let’s begin with Amazon’s recommendation.
The KDP help pages recommend an aspect ratio of 1.6 for your cover. This means that the height is 60% larger than the width.
- This is ideal for fitting the cover in a Fire device. But no customers will see how it looks on your device until the thumbnail draws them in. So it’s more important to choose the right aspect ratio for your thumbnail than for the device.
- On the other hand, multitudes of authors are using Amazon’s recommended 1.6 aspect ratio for their covers. So your cover may seem out of place (perhaps not in a good way) if you choose a different aspect ratio.
Amazon has recently raised its suggestion for pixel size to 4500 pixels on the longest side.
If you want an aspect ratio of 1.6 and 4500 pixels for the height, your cover should be 2813 x 4500 pixels.
Amazon will actually accept up to 10,000 pixels on the longest side, but that may be overkill.
A smaller cover may be fine, as most devices don’t have more than 2000 pixels across their screens. (Perhaps Amazon’s recommendation is partly looking toward the future.)
So 1250 x 2000 pixels or 1563 x 2500 pixels may be sufficient, at least until higher-resolution devices become much more common.
However, Amazon’s recommendation receives some criticism, such as:
- An aspect ratio of 1.6 is very narrow.
- It’s much narrower than most traditionally published print books, with which most readers are familiar with.
- There is less room across on which to place your title. Wider covers make it easier to achieve a very readable title.
- If you also publish in print, you probably can’t just use the front cover of your print book for your Kindle book if you wish to have an aspect ratio of 1.6.
Thus, other aspect ratios are also fairly popular.
An aspect ratio of 1.5 may have some merit:
- It’s not as narrow as Amazon’s recommendation.
- It provides a little more width for the title.
- It matches the aspect ratio of the fairly popular 6″ x 9″ book (which is convenient if you publish a paperback of this size at CreateSpace, for example).
- It will only be a little wider than the multitude of covers that follow Amazon’s recommendation, so it probably isn’t wide enough to seem out of place.
For an aspect ratio of 1.5, your cover could be 3000 x 4500, 1667 x 2500, or 1333 x 2000, for example.
If 1.5 doesn’t seem wide enough for you, a wider alternative is an aspect ratio of 1.33. This matches a printed 6″ x 8″ book, for example.
(Of course, inches are irrelevant to e-book cover design. What matters is the pixel count.)
An aspect ratio of 1.33 is wide enough to stand out among the popular 1.6 (and not necessarily in a good way, although to some it seems better—mostly, it may seem out of place if it’s badly outnumbered in thumbnail searches: that’s the key point, see what’s common among Kindle books very similar to yours). Going even wider than 1.33 is risky. Especially, landscape covers tend to stand out like a sore thumb.
For an aspect ratio of 1.33, your cover could be 3383 x 4500, 1880 x 2500, or 1504 x 2000.
As you can see above, I used a picture of the Kindle book cover (as seen on the Paperwhite) for Julie Harper’s new release, Reading Comprehension for Girls, for this post. The cover was designed by Melissa Stevens (at theillustratedauthor.net).
It includes 48 fun short stories divided in 3 parts. Each story is followed by 4 multiple choice questions; answers can be found in the back. The print edition has 130 pages.
Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing