Kindle Book “Covers” – What You Should Know

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Your book’s “cover” is the first thing that jumps out at people when it’s displayed on a web page with a bunch of other books.  It is absolutely critical that it do a good job of grabbing people’s attention.

Yes, of course, we offer cover design services, but to be radically honest, while we think we offer great cover design at good prices, there are a lot of talented designers out there, so pretty much everything below is going to apply to them as well.  I’m just writing it to help educate people about what goes into the production of a cover.

First of all, a “cover” for a Kindle book really isn’t a cover at all.  It’s a flat image that will be displayed on various web pages – most likely as a thumbnail, but also in a larger format if the user wants to have a look.  This means it’s important for the image to work as a thumbnail in order to attract attention.  Another thing that follows from the cover not being an actual physical cover is that there is no spine, and no back cover.

In a bookstore, when a book interests you enough to pick it up, you might glance at the cover, then at the back, then start looking inside.  Therefore, for print books, not only does the front of the cover have to be good, but the back must be designed correctly too, with a catchy quote or blurb that captures the reader’s attention and makes them want to spend more time with the book.  On the web, none of this happens: readers who want to know more click on your book, and an Amazon page pops up with all kinds of information about the book: blurbs, author bio, reviews, and so on.  This information takes the place of the back cover.  In many ways, this is a positive development: you have fewer expenses in terms of what you need to design, and your books’ page likely has a lot more space on it than the back cover of a book ever would.  Including a ‘back cover’ image in an eBook is a bit tricky.  Stash it at the very back of the book, and virtually no one will ever see it!  You could always put it somewhere after the title page, but most likely it’s going to be a bit awkward there.  We recommend simply not including it in an eBook.

Besides not needing a spine and back cover, another thing working in your favor in terms of costs is that for an eBook cover, you can get by with lower resolution, which translates (especially in terms of things like stock photography) to lower costs.  However, do keep in mind that if you ever want to do a print version of your book, you should discuss this with your cover designer so that they can keep that in mind when creating your cover.

What dimensions should you use?  It used to be that anything over 600×800 pixels was ok, but with screen resolution improving all the time, that’s not big enough any more.  These days, Amazon are recommending:

For best quality, your image would be 1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest side

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2J0TRG6OPX0VM

Of course, you don’t want too large an image, as that may cause your book to be larger to download, which may end up costing you a portion of your earnings.

The cover image should be in color, but should also look ok in grayscale, for those viewing it on their eInk Kindles.

As to what imagery and typography makes for a good cover… that’s a long and involved discussion for another post.  Suffice it to say that a good designer will be able to help you create something that’s appropriate for your book.  The important thing, from my point of view is to stand out from the competition, and to make people curious to learn more about your book.  Naturally, you want to also come across as professional.

In conclusion, here are some questions we ask potential customers in order to help them think about what kind of cover they’d like:

  • What is your book about, and who is your intended audience?
  • Do you have any images (photos, logos, illustrations) that you would like to include on the cover? If you do not have an image yet, you can describe what you have in mind and we will locate several for you to choose from. Istockphoto.com is a source we work with often.
  • What text would you like to include on the cover? Any particular font or font style that you have in mind?
  • What are you envisioning as the overall look/feel/mood of the cover? The more detailed you are in your description, the more easier it will be to turn your ideas into reality. If there are examples of other cover designs that you especially like or dislike, that can also be very helpful.
  • Do you intend to use the cover for a print book as well, or is it going to be exclusively an eBook?
  • And, finally, what deadlines and timeframe do you have for this project, so we can be sure to get everything done in time?

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