As a book cover designer, many times my clients question me on my choices for the size and height-width ratio of my book covers.
And for good reason: there is no industry standard for ebook covers – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Smashwords all recommend different things. Many indie authors recommend making a perfect, separate file for each ebook distributor according to their regulations, and criticize book designers who don’t.
But let me walk you through what the size requirements really mean, how I design an ebook cover to fit everywhere, and why I focus on design first.
Ebook cover requirements for Apple, Smashwords, B&N, Kindle
Right now (mid-2012) all of the ebook giants are upping their size requirements for ebook covers. I used to just make everything at 600 x 900px, but that size will soon be too small. The reason is that ebook readers are getting more powerful, with higher screen resolution, so to make a cover that will look good for the next few years at least, it has to be bigger.
Amazon Kindle: Minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side, Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6. For better quality, we recommend that images be 2500 pixels on the longest side.
Apple: at least 1,400 pixels wide.
Barnes & Noble: minimum height of between 1,200 to 2,000 pixels.
Smashwords: at least 1,400 pixels wide.
That might seem really confusing, but here’s the takeaway point: Shoot for 1500px wide.
To my knowledge, all ebook readers currently show shelves that allow for differences of height. So don’t focus on making several book covers of drastically different size (which will look strange, and you’d have to move all the elements around and it would still look funny).
Pick a size, make it really big (at least 1500px wide), and make it as tall as it needs to be. A ratio of 1:1.6 or 1:1.5 both look pretty good. Personally I like long, tall books (1.6) but some covers with lots of visual elements might need that extra width.
Do I try making my covers exactly to these sizes? I tend to start all covers at 6x9inch, 300DPI, and scale from there. If it’s too crowded and I need a little more height or width, I add it in. The exact size of your cover and ratio doesn’t really matter, as long as the width is wide enough, and it’s roughly book-shaped.
Some Ebook Cover Templates
That said, I know it’s a hassle to figure out all these details, so I’ve made a few sample templates. Actually I found these images on Smashwords, but strangely the images weren’t actually the sizes that they represented – so I resized them (one of them is pretty fuzzy, but the size is right). Now, if you click on one, right click+”save image as”, you should get a file that is exactly the dimensions it claims to be.
Open it with a graphic software, put you photograph on top of it, add some text, and save it again.
Make sure to keep the size the same. You’ll be good to go.
PS) If your print book is 6″x9″ – that’s 1.5!