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Old 07-17-2012, 12:08 PM   #16
Tango Mike
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Dealing with the new cover requirements

I'm joining the conversation a little late, but reading the comments has raised a question. Please pardon me for a little background first.

I'm a do-it-yourselfer using a MacBook Pro with OS10.6.6, Photoshop Elements 8, Word 2008, Sigil 0.5.3, and Calibre 0.8.6. I use Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle for Mac to check my epub and mobi conversions. I know little or nothing about code, so I've used the point-and-click approach with lots of trial and error to publish three books for sale on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, and Apple's iBookstore. The new cover requirements driven by Apple and recently announced by Smashwords have me looking at my current workflow:

1. Build the book in Word, including a cover image as the first page and graphics for each chapter heading page and scene break.

2. Save as filtered html, open in Sigil, add the chapter breaks and generate the TOC.

3. Open the epub in Calibre and convert to mobi.

4. I upload the original doc file to Smashwords and the epub and mobi to Barnes&Noble and Amazon. I've uploaded one book directly to Apple and let Smashwords distribute the other two.

All my previous covers have been built on the 600x800 model (or close to it, depending on slight differences in requirements). After the Smashwords announcement, I researched the cover requirements for KDP and PubIt to see if they had changed. PubIt's appear to be the same, but KDP had confusing information and at least one direct contradiction. I sent them a message and received the following:

— TIFF (.tif/.tiff) or JPEG (.jpeg/.jpg) format
— 1000 pixels on the longest side accepted
— minimum 2500 pixels on the longest side recommended
— Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6
— 72 dpi limitation no longer applies and there is no restriction on the dpi
— 600x800 is recommended for images embedded within the content file
— they will be compressed to 127 KB during the conversion process
— this is not related to the catalog image you upload on KDP, which will be used as the thumbnail on the detail page of your book
— you don't have to embed the cover image within the content file, because during the conversion process, the catalog image you upload on KDP will automatically be resized and embedded in the very first page of the content file

I have just resized all of my covers to meet the new requirements and uploaded them successfully. I did not change the cover images embedded within the files, which are the original 600x800 versions. The average file size for these covers is about 500KB, which means that KDP has been resizing them to a maximum of 127KB all along.

I agree with the comments in this thread regarding a realistic view of the role a cover plays in an eBook. That said, if anyone takes the time to look, I'd like the viewer's screen to be the limiting factor rather than the quality of the image I provide. Including a cover image as the first page in the content file puts it in front of the reader at least once following purchase.

I'm doing this by inserting the image in the source doc file before saving as htm and opening in Sigil to save as an epub and then converting to mobi. This has always worked well, and I just finished converting a friend's doc file using a cover image that meets KDP's requirements almost exactly: 1572 x 2514 @ 300ppi (1.6 height to width ratio). When viewed in Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle for Mac, the cover looks terrific. But it's also a hefty 1.5MB.

As a test, I decided to embed this cover in the content file rather than let KDP resize the one uploaded for the thumbnail and the detail page of the book. I expect them to resize it to the maximum of 127KB. I don't know what PubIt, Smashwords and Apple will do with it, and that's one reason for conducting the test.

If you've stayed with me so far, here finally is the question: Ignoring for a moment the issue of whether readers pay any attention to covers once they've purchased the book, what is the downside of meeting the new requirements the way I've described? Does it fill an eReader with unnecessary data and slow it up or cause any other problems with rendering the book?

Thanks in advance for any viewpoints you care to offer.
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Old 07-17-2012, 02:04 PM   #17
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The biggest downside to meeting the new requirements is the time & effort it takes to meet them. (Also, the nuisance and sometimes cost of acquiring high-res images for the purpose of display on a ~6", ~200dpi screen.)

Smashwords new requirements for the Premium catalog require 1400 pixels on the *short* side. There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER for an ebook cover to be 1400 pixels wide. (I don't care if it's showing full-screen on an iPad; an ebook cover never needs to look *bigger* than a paperback cover. Ever.)

So far, Amazon is still taking smaller images for the catalog.
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Old 07-17-2012, 03:09 PM   #18
Tango Mike
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Elfwreck:

Yup, I've not read anything from Amazon that lists a size requirement other than "1000 pixels for the longest side is accepted," which implies that it's a minimum.

But even that isn't a requirement as far as I can tell. Up until two days ago, all I'd ever uploaded were 600x800 images and they've never said a thing about it. I've also seen nothing to indicate a deadline is in the works for Amazon like Smashwords has indicated for themselves and Apple.

One of the reasons it isn't bothering me too much at the moment, I suppose, is that I always begin with images suitable for a wraparound cover at 300ppi for the paperbacks, and I've got to get the hi-res versions anyway.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:43 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
The biggest downside to meeting the new requirements is the time & effort it takes to meet them. (Also, the nuisance and sometimes cost of acquiring high-res images for the purpose of display on a ~6", ~200dpi screen.)

Smashwords new requirements for the Premium catalog require 1400 pixels on the *short* side. There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER for an ebook cover to be 1400 pixels wide. (I don't care if it's showing full-screen on an iPad; an ebook cover never needs to look *bigger* than a paperback cover. Ever.)

So far, Amazon is still taking smaller images for the catalog.
It's not "for" Smashwords--it's because Apple has set it as a requirement for width starting August 1st. FWIW, absolute bollocks IMHO.

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Old 07-18-2012, 11:51 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
It's not "for" Smashwords--it's because Apple has set it as a requirement for width starting August 1st. FWIW, absolute bollocks IMHO.

Hitch
I agree. Especially since it's become the Smashwords requirement even for those who opt out of Apple distribution; Smashwords can't be bothered to set their premium requirements to fit different stores. (I wonder what they'll do if one place ever sets a maximum size while others have minimums. Right now, the SW minimum is higher than BN's PubIt maximum--but SW doesn't distribute through PubIt; they have a separate contract/feed.)
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