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Book Cover Aspect Ratio

Switch Blayde

Amazon's KDP suggests an aspect ratio of 1.6 for ebook covers. I just read that publishers use a 1.5 ratio.

One site I found had the following:

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.

What do you all think?

Ernest Bywater

As my default size is for a 6 x 9 inch US Trade Print Book I use one suitable for that at 600 pixels per inch. While my template is set at the Lulu recommended dimensions of 1800 x 2700 pixels I use 600 ppi instead of their minimum resolution of 300 ppi. I find this gives me a better quality image for the print and e-book while not being too oversize for the image size as it's technically a 3 x 4.5 inch image being stretched to 6 x 9 inches.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Of course, I don't publish ebooks, so I wasn't aware that there was an issue with aspect ratios. I also don't read ebooks, so I've never given the appearance of ebook covers any consideration.

Since you aren't trying to fit a specific size of paper, it doesn't seem that important.

Switch Blayde

@REP

Since you aren't trying to fit a specific size of paper, it doesn't seem that important.


The 2 articles I read said the cover image does fit the specific dimensions of an e-reader device which varies by device. But they said you shouldn't worry about that. The person won't even see it on their device until they purchase it. And then the ebook usually starts after the image so they have to back up to actually see the image on their device.

What the two articles said is that it's the thumbnail that's important and 1.5 looks better than 1.6 and is close enough to 1.6 that it won't look like a sore thumb.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I just read that publishers use a 1.5 ratio.


I'm not sure where you read that. The vast majority of traditionally published novel length fiction is sold in the mass market paperback/pocketbook size, which is approximately 4.3X7 inches and would be a 1.6 aspect ratio.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I just read that publishers use a 1.5 ratio.

I'm not sure where you read that.


They were talking about the thumbnail when for sale on Amazon.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde


They were talking about the thumbnail when for sale on Amazon.


Still doesn't make sense. For an actual physical mass market paperback, it doesn't make sense that the thumbnail would be a different aspect ration than the physical book cover.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

sold in the mass market paperback/pocketbook size


Not relevant to the question being asked as the question is about cover images for e-books at KDP, not print books.

Also, most print book artwork is actually a bit bigger than the book cover to allow for what they call bleed. While I use an 1800 x 2700 pixel image for the e-books at Lulu, the image for the print book has to be 1838 x 2775 for the final print size of 1800 x 2700 with allowance for the bleed. Both are the recommended sizes from when I started at Lulu.

D2D recommends images of 1600 x 2400 pixels which is a 1.5 ratio, and it's all e-books.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Not relevant to the question


To the question perhaps not, but go back and look at what I quoted.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


To the question perhaps not, but go back and look at what I quoted.


I did, and the majority of the publishers use 1.5 for their e-books, as SB said. Which is what the topic is about.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

it doesn't make sense that the thumbnail would be a different aspect ration than the physical book cover


The article said 6x9 was the most typical paperback and that's a 1.5 ratio. That was one of the reasons they gave for using 1.5. If I ever offered a paperback it would be 6x9.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

The article said 6x9 was the most typical paperback and that's a 1.5 ratio.


In the US at least,trade paperback, the 6x9 size is very common, for non fiction, graphic novels, and novella length fiction.

I will be 50 in September. I have been an avid reader since I was very young. I have never once in my life seen novel length fiction in a trade paperback size available in any brick and mortar bookstore. So yeah, trade paperback might technically be more common than pocket book, but when you look just at novel length fiction, trade paper back is exceedingly rare for commercially published works.

Baltimore Rogers
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I personally prefer to use the golden ratio, but it's hard to get an irrational number of pixels in most image formats [snirk].

1.6 is not a bad first order approximation.

Crumbly Writer

Alas, Switch, Amazon had different size requirements than the rest of the publishing industry, and it's entirely related to how they display cover images in their Kindles and on their webpages.

Kindle requires a HD figure to be precisely 1563 x 2500 pts (a normal 6"x9" image is 1800 x 2700 pts. The Kindle image is decidedly more rectangular (thus more 'squished') than the same covers on other outlets, but not so much that most authors will actually resize the image. Again, lulu and a few other sites require square images, which flies in the face of representing traditional book covers. The lulu workaround is to simply preserve the usual 6 x 9 ration by adding empty white space on either side of the image, reducing the images overall detail. But since lulu doesn't provide HD or retinal images, it hardly matters.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

As my default size is for a 6 x 9 inch US Trade Print Book I use one suitable for that at 600 pixels per inch.

Alas, 600dpi is excessive, as most outlets and professional printers only process 300 dpi (which fits your 1800 x 2700 pixel framework, meaning your images are actually overly detailed miniatures! Though how lulu prints those is open to question (whether they preserve the defined physical ratio or the underlying displayed data point definitions.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Since you aren't trying to fit a specific size of paper, it doesn't seem that important.

Alas, the outlets consider it essential, neither Amazon nor lulu will publish anything which doesn't fit their defined standards.

Since I publish to multiple outlets, I'm constantly juggling and resizing images. It's the nature of the industry. Each outlet displays covers on their main website differently, though what you include inside the book is entirely separate (though in the case of Amazon, Kindle readers won't display anything outside of their defined ratios). :(

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

What the two articles said is that it's the thumbnail that's important and 1.5 looks better than 1.6 and is close enough to 1.6 that it won't look like a sore thumb.

A 1.5 ratio, which fits a traditional 6 x 9 image, works best because it's the traditional publishing standard used in both trade paperbacks and hardbound books (mass market paperbacks are shorter).

Thus there's really no reason or justification for the standard, it simply looks like most books.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

They were talking about the thumbnail when for sale on Amazon.

Which Amazon itself mangles when they tack on the 'look inside' image to it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Also, most print book artwork is actually a bit bigger than the book cover to allow for what they call bleed. While I use an 1800 x 2700 pixel image for the e-books at Lulu, the image for the print book has to be 1838 x 2775 for the final print size of 1800 x 2700 with allowance for the bleed. Both are the recommended sizes from when I started at Lulu.

Typically, the bleed is more commonly 6.333 x 9.5, which retains the basic 1-5 ratio, even when more is actually trimmed in the finished product (the bleed covers their mistakes in cutting the image, rather than preserving the original dimensions of the cover). Though once again, the bleed factor varies with each print outlet. The more precise you are with the image (defining the precise spine measurements), the less 'bleed' they need to cover their mistakes.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


600dpi is excessive


While that's true I have noticed that the print book copies cover art for a 1838 x 2775 x 600 cover is a clearer and better quality print than the ones I did at 1838 x 2775 x 300 - - btw the submitted 1838 x 2775 is the recommend for a print cover of 1800 x 2700 and the book comes out at 1800 x 2700 as the rest is for what they call bleed.

typo edit

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Kindle requires a HD figure to be precisely 1563 x 2500 pts (a normal 6"x9" image is 1800 x 2700 pts.


Do you mean the Kindle device? And not KDP.

The cover I'm working on is 1668 x 2500 which is 1:5.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Which Amazon itself mangles when they tack on the 'look inside' image to it.


What do you mean?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sharkjcw

Just looking at my kindle library, I have at least 4 or 5 different cover or thumbnail picture styles or sizes. And no I am not going to measure them to get the size ratio.

Switch Blayde

@sharkjcw

I have at least 4 or 5 different cover or thumbnail picture styles or sizes.


Yeah, that's what I learned from the articles. I used to think the size had to fit Amazon's "standard."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Do you mean the Kindle device? And not KDP.

The cover I'm working on is 1668 x 2500 which is 1:5.

No, I mean ALL Kindle submissions (i.e. anything sold via Amazon). They may have loosened the requirements, but they would reject any cover which didn't fit those dimensions, and those were the maximum size allowed too (High-Def retina). Though it's been some time since I tried forcing the issue.

You can include whichever size you wish within your document, but when you submit something, they want to ensure it matches their intended display resolution, thus the 300dpi was a gift to authors who continued to bitch about their crappy cover displays.

If they do accept your version, they'll undoubtedly 'trim' it to fit their requirements (a more modern version of size restrictions.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Which Amazon itself mangles when they tack on the 'look inside' image to it.

What do you mean?

I mean, when they tack on the 'look inside' logo on the book cover, it 'stretches' their display to the standard 1:5 ratio. Thus Amazon's ration was selected to allow them to 'add onto' your basic cover display.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@sharkjcw

Just looking at my kindle library, I have at least 4 or 5 different cover or thumbnail picture styles or sizes. And no I am not going to measure them to get the size ratio.

The figures I quoted are what Amazon requires/required for submission. Amazon typically shrinks or expands their images to meet your display size (a very nice feature, and yet another reason for the HD sizes), plus, as I've noted, the cover you include inside your book isn't limited by the same restrictions.

@Switch

Correction: Amazon does allow other sizes, especially when accepting books from other outlets/publishers, but they then 'shrink' the dimensions (by cutting the margins) to fit their predefined ration.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Yeah, that's what I learned from the articles. I used to think the size had to fit Amazon's "standard."

The mainstream publishers have more sway (withholding all bestsellers from Amazon if they don't relent, so that probably accounts for many. Plus, the sizes depend on the type of book (mass market, print, or from other sources), so I can't identify why the specific images you note were granted exceptions, but independent publishers, like Switch, Ernest and I, aren't given any latitude. They consume 30% to 70% of our sales, but don't care about our 'personal' standards.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If they do accept your version, they'll undoubtedly 'trim' it to fit their requirements (a more modern version of size restrictions.


Not according to the articles I read. They specifically said not to make it squarer than 1:5 so it doesn't look out of place among all the 1:6 ones. They said the traditionally published books on Amazon are 1:5.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I mean, when they tack on the 'look inside' logo on the book cover, it 'stretches' their display to the standard 1:5 ratio.


I just checked one of my 1:6 covers. The "look inside" is above the cover. When I click on it, the cover looks like the one I created. It doesn't look stretched.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Not according to the articles I read. They specifically said not to make it squarer than 1:5 so it doesn't look out of place among all the 1:6 ones. They said the traditionally published books on Amazon are 1:5.

That's the idea, so that when it is resized, it won't look odd or 'weird'. For me, I don't change my 1:6 ration 6"x9" covers when I convert to Amazon's 1:5 ration, so both images look natural without requiring excessive adjustment or revising. It does look a little squished, but not enough so to waste time mucking with it.

But no, I haven't heard of Amazon retrofitting covers, but ... I wouldn't put it past them.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I just checked one of my 1:6 covers. The "look inside" is above the cover. When I click on it, the cover looks like the one I created. It doesn't look stretched.

I didn't say that the displayed cover was stretched, I said the extra space (between the 1:5 and 1:6 ratios) is reserved for the extra "look inside" display (i.e. the ratio is entirely for Amazon's benefits, rather than a device or app physical requirement).

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