Kindle Cover Format

Quick answer:

Use the JPEG image format, size 600x800 pixels and use the Firefox browser to upload to the Amazon DTP.

*UPDATE on the Internet Explorer incompatibility issue, see end of this post.

Don't expect the image as it displays on your Kindle screen to be beautiful, no matter how beautiful it is in full color.

The Kindle, at this point in its development, displays only 16 levels of gray-scale, so it is not capable of doing justice to your nice color cover.

Make sure your book looks good on Amazon's website, and don't worry about the Kindle display... yours will look no worse than others.

On the way to this conclusion:

If the weeping and wailing on the Kindle forums is to be believed, the upload of the Kindle cover has probably caused more problems than all others put together.

The answer, it turns out, is very simple and easy, but it's not so easy when you start out, as many do, with the wrong information.

The size of the image is the first and most confusing factor... the Amazon instructions don't clarify the problem, and many users, trying to help, just add to the problem with the wrong numbers.

The Kindle re-sizes any image that is LARGER than what its internal algorithm wants... that LARGE image gets displayed SMALLER than a SMALL photo that meets the internal specs.

An image sized 1200x1600 pixels, which many people think should make a great cover image, will get re-sized so it fills about half the screen.

The same image sized 600x800 pixels fills the entire screen, top to bottom, edge to edge, to make a beautiful cover.

There were other ideas put forward... and I tried most of them, only to get messed up final results.

There's another factor... *Internet Explorer and the Amazon DTP apparently just don't like each other.

Most of the upload problems reported on the forums are solved simply by switching to another browser. I've tried it, myself, with Internet Explorer 8, and a squeaky clean cache, and IE8 simply sits there... it won't even try to upload the image.

Bottom line... use JPEG format, 600x800 pixels, and upload with Firefox.

*UPDATE on the Internet Explorer incompatibility issue. It can be cured in IE8 by clicking Menu|Tools|Compatibility View.

It was a real issue that caused problems for many, and will continue to cause problems for those unaware. That's the reason I'm leaving the problem descriptions in this post.

36 comments:

  1. Great info, best I've seen yet. SK

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  2. Thanks! Concise, informative, and to the point.

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  3. Thanks, Luc!

    And thanks to others who have commented.

    Amazon has made some improvements in the quality of images the Kindle can display, but I don't have all the details yet.

    I'll get this article updated with the new information as soon as I can find out how it applies to us.

    CJ

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  4. I have just built my first Kindle book; thanks for all the advice at this site.

    Having completed everything I have opened the book in the Kindle Viewer software and noticed that the text runs off the right side of the page and it doesn't scroll down to the end of each page. Is this because the Kindle Viewer is a tool that gives you an idea of how the book will appear or does it, in fact, give a true representation of how my book will appear in a Kindle Reader? And how about other readers such as the iPad?

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  5. Hi Gladys,

    Kindle Previewer should give you a reasonable representation of what your book will look like in the actual Kindle Reader, so something appears to be wrong.

    Which Viewer are you using... the one on your computer, or the one at the DTP dashboard?

    If you will make a screen shot, attach it to an email and send it to me at this email address, I'll try to help;

    cj-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com

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  6. Thanks for your site, I have been using it to find useful information! The only thing I have left is the cover. I can get the "go to" menu to work, but the image does not bleed to all the edges, the status bar is still at the top and bottom, it is like it is the first page.

    Do you know how to fix this?
    Thank you in advance!

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  7. FINALLY, a straight answer to the question I spent a looong time investigating. I built my cover at 600x900, and it scrolls off the bottom of the Previewer. Now I know why. And I am rebuilding.

    Why, oh why, doesn't Amazon just say "600x800 is ideal, but here are some other options"???

    Thank you!

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  8. uh... huh...

    You just pasted your cover image into your Word file, didn't you?

    You need to add it when you go through Mobipocket Creator.

    Check the Search box for articles about Mobipocket Creator... I think there is one on the "home" page right now.

    Good luck!

    CJ

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  9. Hi Vesna VK,

    I don't know why Amazon doesn't give other options, but must agree that 600x800 is usually the best choice.

    I do realize, that it is NOT always easy to get some images to behave at exactly 600x800.

    Image re-sizing software often will resize to "close", but not exactly, 600x800, so it's a temptation to go ahead with that.

    The interesting thing is that an image that some people must think is "close enough"... if it is just a few pixels off, if it is not *exactly* 600x800, it will not fill the screen.

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  10. I'm helping someone with their cover, we'd like to use a full photo so does the cover have to he upright or can it be landscape? thanks!

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  11. Chuck0,

    The 600x800 pixels rule still applies.

    Most likely, your landscape photo will be re-sized to fill about the top two thirds of the screen... the bottom will be blank.

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  12. Thanks so much for this post! I've read so many conflicting things about the cover that I wasn't sure what to believe.

    One question: I plan to use my 600x800 cover in two places:

    1. I plan to directly upload it on the initial Kindle Direct screen at the option labeled "4. Upload Your Book Cover"

    2. I plan to include it with my book's HTML file in the zipped file I upload at the option labeled "5. Upload Your Book File"

    Is that correct? The same 600x800 image works in both places?

    Thanks again!

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  13. That first comment of yours is totally understandable... and the reason I started researching and writing these tutorials.

    I've written out the complete instructions... can't remember the titles, but if you search in the box under the birds, you'll find them...

    But... briefly... if you include your image zipped in with the HTML file, you won't get a full screen cover... your cover page will have margins and look like any other full page image in your book.

    Use Mobipocket Creator and Add Cover Image... then you will get a cover that fills the entire Kindle screen.

    BUT... That cover that you upload at the Kindle Direct Publishing platform is not the same image.

    That is your Sales Page image... and it can and should be larger than the 600x800 pixels you add to your ebook, itself.

    Just from memory... Amazon says the minimum there is 1200 pixels on the longest side. It can be larger, but I can't quote it from memory.

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  14. Dear CJ,
    So what would you say to a guy who just learned what a pixel is, has limited abilities with technology, and absolutely no cash to farm out the work of the cover he needs for his soon to be Kindle book? Where do I go to learn this madness of cover-art creation, and how hard is it?

    seriously in need of good advice,

    thanks

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  15. Hi Chris,

    I'd say I don't know what a pixel is, either... I just read the rules and follow instructions... and, just as the big bird is telling the little bird on the tight-rope, follow along step by step, and... don't look down!

    Just dig in and start reading... it's not as hard as it seems at first.

    Good luck!

    CJ

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  16. CJ,

    First of all, thanks for your amazing guide.

    I have a 531 kb 600x800 jpg that gets resized to a 58 kb 518x691 jpg in Mobipocket Creator. Obviously, this ends up not filling the Kindle screen.

    I assume the Creator is operating under the old 63 kb contraints and not the new 127 kb maximum. I'm a newbie and can't figure out how I can resize my image so that it maintains its 600x800 dimensions but gets under the necessary file size. In another post, you compare using the Creator and just inserting the image into Word, and, as I understand it, imply that we should use the Creator.

    Would you please help me? I have a friend with Adobe Photoshop if that makes things easier. I just have no clue what I should do. Thanks in advance.

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  17. The 600x800 pixels image should work fine.

    I don't know why yours doesn't unless it is actually a smaller file that was "re-sized" in some way to make it "look like" 600x800... that won't work.

    Don't use Mobipocket for any image except the cover.

    Adobe Photoshop can help... just load your image and choose "Save for Web" from the Photoshop Menu... then tell Photoshop what size you want.

    For images other than the cover, it's easiest to just insert them with Word.

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  18. Okay, Noob question just to get this all straight in my mind.
    We're talking about Cover Images in two different places and in two different sizes, right?
    One cover image is the one on Amazon's site that you see when scrolling through all the the books looking for something to read.
    The other cover image is the one that pops up in the Kindle reader after some discriminating reader buys a copy of your most excellent novel, right?

    So, if I understand this correctly, the 'cover image' that appears on Amazon's site can be larger than 600 x 800, but the image that pops up in the Kindle reader must be 600 x 800?

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  19. Yes... there are two "cover images", one of which probably should be called the "Amazon Sales Page Image", or "Catalog Image".

    There was a time when the Amazon Help files did not make clear that there are two different images, but more recently, they use the term "Product Image" for the one I prefer to call "Catalog Image".

    Yes, the Catalog image can be larger than the 600x800 pixels required for the image that will be displayed on the actual book on the actual Kindle.

    I don't know what the maximum size is for the Catalog image.

    My experience has been that any "reasonable" size will be accepted, but there is no advantage to anything larger than the Amazon recommended size.

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  20. Thank you. I will file this away for future reference.
    Your site is a veritable trove.

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  21. Hi CJ,

    I've come to you with a question about covers because I have no place else to turn. Amazon tech support in India doesn't seem to know what the problem is, and has been very unhelpful and unresponsive.

    The problem is this: the cover image I upload to the Amazon web site (separate from the Kindle image and its file) always appears blurry and of poor quality. Yet when I go to my book's Amazon web page and upload a "customer image" of the book (the same exact file), it's sharp and clear and beautiful on the website.

    The cover image is a JPG file, 853 x 1280 px, 72 dpi, in RGB format, and when I save it in Photoshop as a JPG file, in the Image Options box I save it as a "Quality 12" file, and in the Format Options box, I save it as Baseline ("Standard"). I've saved the image in bigger sizes, but get the same result. Even when I save it as a TIF file (with the settings: Image Compression: None; Pixel Order: Interleaved; Byte Order: IBM PC) the image still shows up blurry on the Amazon web site.

    Any ideas? I'm thinking it must have something to do with compression, but I don't know how exactly. How do you personally save your cover images before uploading them to Amazon? Do you know of any active forums that address these sorts of issues?

    This has been going on for about 2 weeks now, with me pulling my hair out, and getting no help from their tech support.

    Thanks!
    Michael

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  22. I went through the same kinds of problems, Michael, so I understand.

    What I do now, is... ask Araby Greene to create my covers... she is very good and very reasonable.

    She also has written some good and helpful articles about Kindle Covers and how best to create them.

    Check for some of her book cover articles here:

    http://webbishbooks.com/2010/12/kindle-book-cover-size/

    You'll find links to some of her other sites at the bottom of that page.

    Be sure to check them out to see some of the beautiful work she does.

    On one of her sites... probably the one about website building, there is a "help window".

    If she is on line and you tap on the window, she may have time to stop and answer your questions live.

    Good luck!

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  23. Hi CJ,

    Just wanted to thank you again for your help, and for steering me to Araby. She was kind enough to recommend a few things in the way of formatting tricks but unfortunately nothing worked and the image is still blurry and degraded on the Amazon web page. But I appreciate you trying to help.

    All the best,
    Michael

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  24. Aha! Now I understand why my lovely LARGE sized cover didn't fully fit the Kindle screen. Thank you :-)

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  25. THANKS for reporting your success, Rachel!

    CJ

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  26. CJ,

    You're amazing. I'm new to Kindle, and after reading all the instruction and looking at posts on their community forums, I was feeling like publishing was going to be an impossible task. But after reading some of your instructions, I opened my first Kindle previewer with no errors! Thanks so much!

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  27. Is the cover supposed to be just a photo alone? Or do I need to use something like Photoshop to incorporate the name of the title and my name on the cover?

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  28. Joe,
    Yes, you need to prepare your cover exactly as you want it to appear on your book and on the Amazon Sales page.

    A new feature since I wrote this is that now Amazon will put the same cover on the book that you upload for the Sales page.

    There is a little box to tick or un-tick when you upload the Sales page image when you go through the publishing process.

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  29. Thanks, CJ. We created a jpg image with the title within it. It's not working when I try to use Mobipocket. The error message I'm getting is "Warning (progen): Cover not specified". What does that mean and how can we fix it?

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  30. Joe,

    That message suggests that you did not add the photo properly.

    You don't "insert image" into Mobipocket even tho there is such an option.

    Instead, you "Add" your cover image during the Build process.

    Check the tutorial below to be sure you did it correctly:

    http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/2010/03/publishing-for-kindle-using-mobipocket.html

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  31. Hi CJ,

    Thanks for your valuable inputs about the kindle book cover size. I now know from your information that we need to create 2 different sizes of the kindle book covers. However, I had a query regarding the image resoultion--should I select 72 dpi for both the standard 600x800 cover as well as the catalogue cover image mentioned in amazon kindle's publishing page?

    Thanks a lot :-)

    S.Marsh

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  32. Hi S.Marsh,

    Amazon has changed things since that was written...

    Now, you need only one cover... and it can be at a higher resolution... and you upload it along with your book during the publishing process.

    Amazon will then add it to your book as well as put it on your book that appears in the Amazon Sales catalog.

    To find the size Amazon recommends, go to the Publish page, and go through the process I've described elsewhere about how to create a sample file... then when you get to "Browse for Image", check what size and resolution is mentioned there.

    They have been upgrading regularly, so it is quite likely different from what it was the last time I was there.

    Thanks!

    CJ

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  33. Thanks for this great site!

    Amazon seem now to suggest different sizing:
    Requirements for the size of your cover art:


    • 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.


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

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  34. I just want to chime in here and make a comment.
    I was just like everyone else having trouble with the cover issue. I decided to do some very long tedious testing. I'm on a mac pro and used the kindlegen method or straight html. I set up an html doc for the cover. In the css i used a div.centerPage with height of 600px, width 600px and left at 212px. all images are under the 127kb limit. The cover is 119 and the lowest image is 33kb and they all look great,illustrated in photoshop/illustrator. The manifest has the href cover html and all the references to the images and docs. Heres the weird thing that I think I found out. Don't laugh if you already knew, I just blew it off before and this is my first time making a childrens book. You can embed a cover two different ways. One being in the metadata section found in the amazon example files, which I used. And another which Indesign spits out, I think. This is what i believe is happening. Since (kindlegen mobi) files seem to make two covers (this method), the first cover image is what the KDP upload feature #4 uses (grabs) and re-embeds for the cover thumbnail for the storefront. and the html cover doc is used for the second. For the second embedding method i used:
    guide
    reference type="cover" href="images/store_cover.jpg"
    guide, which is placed between the closed spine and closed package.
    By renaming the store cover different than the cover that i used in the OPF (html,embedded cover) which was used twice, it worked, so far. The kindle previewer on the desktop showed the two covers all messed up (artifacts), but the previewer is also almost twice the size as the kindle fire, my device. so i side loaded the book and hoped. It worked. I have two covers (whatever for that) that look wonderful. everything else, wonderful. the only thing that at this point, is the storefront cover or thumb. But if i had to guess, It'll be ok. What do you expect at 600px 72 dpi 119kb image. It's only a thumb image. I did also try the 600x800 and it was fine. but i like the more square cover because it matches the print version. I didn't try the 1200 x whatever for the cover,especially when i change my method and location of embedding the cover code. But i really don't get 1200px. it'll just be stuffed into a 600x1024 box anyway. right?

    j

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