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Old 07-19-2013, 11:58 PM   #1
ecbritz
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What should the dimensions of an ebook cover image be?

I would like to design and create my own ebook cover, based on an image edited to serve as book cover. What should the size and height/width ratio be of the image on which I base the design?

Most ebooks seem to have more or less the same dimensions (height/width ratio). Because they are zoomed in and out, as it were, in accordance with the size of the screen on which they are displayed, a certain image resolution is probably also preferable and important. So what should the size, height/width ratio and resolution be of an image ideally suited to serve as basis of an ebook cover design?
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Old 07-20-2013, 12:26 AM   #2
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Most Readers have a 3:4 aspect (older Monitors are 4:3. Readers are in Portrait mode)

Apple wants HiRes for their i-won't

Me, I stick with the 316x450+ that is Fantastic Fiction's default. 50% size is good enough for me on my e-ink screen and saves space
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:46 AM   #3
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Most Readers have a 3:4 aspect (older Monitors are 4:3. Readers are in Portrait mode)
But some people like to read in landscape mode.

There's no "standard" aspect ratio or resolution, so just choose whatever you like best, or works best for your preferred device.
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Old 07-20-2013, 04:58 AM   #4
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Thanks for the appreciated answers. Could you also tell me please which image format you use for a cover? E.g. PNG, BMP, GIF, JPG, TIFF or TGA?
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:09 AM   #5
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PNG or JPG, depending on the kind of image, and whether JPG artifacts are acceptable or not.

BMP -> never: uncompressed, not supported by ePub
GIF -> never: only 256 colours max, not supported by ePub
TIFF -> never: not supported by ePub
TGA -> never: not supported by ePub
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:12 AM   #6
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Thanks! Apparently the cover can be important if you want to sell an e-book through Amazon. Seeing that an e-book can be read in "vertical" or "horizontal" mode on a portable e-reader, would a white page (or coloured page with similar background colour) containing independent graphical and textual elements -- rather than a solid image with textual elements superimposed -- not be best? Theoretically, it should looking fitting on both a vertical and a horizontal screen presentation of the cover.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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We use something in the neighborhood of 800(w) x 1200(h) in jpg format. That seems to keep most distributors happy, and displays well. (Kindlegen, for example, will whine if the cover is too small.)

IMHO it is not necessary to attempt to design a cover that "looks good" in both landscape and portrait orientations. At sales outlets, cover thumbnails are going to be portrait, and people mostly "expect" that aspect ratio. Once they buy the book, of course, they can display it however they want, but at that point admiring the cover in landscape mode is probably not what they are most interested in.

In other words, unless you are designing some kind of fixed-format "coffee table" book that is intended to be viewed in landscape from the get-go, I wouldn't worry overmuch about landscape mode.

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Old 07-20-2013, 12:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecbritz View Post
I would like to design and create my own ebook cover, based on an image edited to serve as book cover. What should the size and height/width ratio be of the image on which I base the design?

Most ebooks seem to have more or less the same dimensions (height/width ratio). Because they are zoomed in and out, as it were, in accordance with the size of the screen on which they are displayed, a certain image resolution is probably also preferable and important. So what should the size, height/width ratio and resolution be of an image ideally suited to serve as basis of an ebook cover design?
When it introduced the Fire in the fall of 2011, Amazon began to recommend a skinny ratio, so as to fill the Fire screen. I obeyed, but then realized that the product image looked too small on the Amazon store page, where the basic image is 500 pixels tall (and however wide). So I reverted to the 6x9 ratio that I use for print editions. Really--who cares whether the cover fills the Fire screen vertically?

Amazon and B&N like to have a product image in the range of 1000-2000 pixels on the long side, so I have settled on 1200x1800 as suitable for both. (I have to shrink it for Apple, via Lulu.)

It used to be that the KDP conversion on Amazon suppressed the included cover, if there was one, but this is no longer true, at least in the case of epubs uploaded to the KDP. My last two books ended with two covers in the Kindle edition, until I deleted the included cover and made a KDP-specific epub.

I do include a cover in the epub that goes to B&N, Apple, and Kobo. Because of the high-rez screen on the modern tablets, I have been moving to a 900x1200 pixel jpeg for the included covers. I don't have an iPad or a Nook HD (if there is such a thing), so I don't know how they treat images. But the Fire HD and in particular the 8.9 inch Fire render images in absolute pixel size, instead of zooming them as the older Kindles did, so this larger included image seems a cheap hedge against having my cover look too small.

(For interior images, I use a width=95% instruction to avoid their looking shrunken on the tablets.)
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Old 07-20-2013, 12:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the size and the width/height ratio recommended. The remark "PNG or JPG, depending on the kind of image" I would like to understand a bit better. What kind of image would be better in PNG?
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Old 07-20-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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Line art, with sharp edges and plain colours are better dealt with PNG.
Photographs, paintings, etc. can be very efficiently (and without too serious artifacts) compressed by JPG.

Unfortunately, most covers are a mixture: photograph or painting with sharp-edged letters on top. So one often has to decide between a too large PNG or a JPG with blurry letters.

Create the cover with your favourite program (Photoshop, Gimp...). Save it in its native format (it should be lossless, and you keep all layering etc., useful if you want to modify it later). Save it in JPG and PNG. Open both files and decide which one to use, based on what you see and their size.
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Old 07-20-2013, 04:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
PNG or JPG, depending on the kind of image, and whether JPG artifacts are acceptable or not.

BMP -> never: uncompressed, not supported by ePub
GIF -> never: only 256 colours max, not supported by ePub
TIFF -> never: not supported by ePub
TGA -> never: not supported by ePub
GIF is supported by ePub. The 256 color palette is generally plenty. See http://www.idpf.org/epub/20/spec/OPS...m#Section2.3.4

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Old 07-21-2013, 03:45 AM   #12
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GIF is supported by ePub. The 256 color palette is generally plenty. See http://www.idpf.org/epub/20/spec/OPS...m#Section2.3.4
I stand corrected. I seemed to remember it was only PNG or JPG... maybe I mixed it with Mobi, which is only GIF or JPG.

Anyway, there's no reason to use GIF, as you can also create a PNG with a 256 colour (or fewer) palette, and it will almost always be smaller than the equivalent GIF.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:57 AM   #13
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To me, the cover of the famous Three Men in a Boat ePub done by Jellby is an ideal cover for an e-book. The cover is not the best part of this ePub because the name of the author (Jerome K Jerome) is missing, the standard page header appears on it and the image (the boat) seems unnaturally "cut off" at the bottom: seemingly cropped from an old picture. Might the problem perhaps be technical and lie with my Sony Reader?

What I admire is the arrangement of independent elements (the book title and the graphical detail) against a plain white background. Also, the suggestive nature of the graphical element and the "old fashioned" font which extends to the title page and the rest of the book. The genre of the book (romantic comic novel from the 19th century) is very effectively suggested by the cover in combination with the title page.

This cover looks good whether viewed in portrait or landscape display, and whether viewed in a single page or two-page display. In a two-page display, the name of the author can be seen on the title page, which compensates for the missing element on the cover.

Despite my awe at the expertise demonstrated in this ePub, I wish at least the "cut off" boat could be replaced. Some last finishing edit would make this one of my favourite epub covers. Its not "fancy", but it fits the nature and contents of Three Men in a Boat perfectly. This is what a cover should be, even if it might not sell as well as a highly eye-catching cover.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:15 AM   #14
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To me, the cover of the famous Three Men in a Boat ePub done by Jellby is an ideal cover for an e-book.
It wasn't me, but zelda_pinwheel, though.
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:19 PM   #15
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Sorry zelda_pinwheel and jellby! Someone told me it was jellby's work.

The Three Men in a Boat e-book feat suggests to me that an e-book cover should not always be treated as if it were a paper book cover. An e-book cover could for instance be treated as one half of a two-page design, the second page being the title page or anything else that would be striking, interesting or informative as a counter-page. The design could take a possible portrait view, landscape view, single-page view, double-page view, small scale (phone) view and large scale (computer screen) view into account, aiming to produce a satisfying result in all cases. In paper books for children, the idea of extending and developing the cover design into the pages that follow has been exploited for many decades. What seems problematical to me, is the thumbnail, usually derived from the cover page, used to advertise e-books. Perhaps a cover or its counter-page could contain a thumbnail to be cropped from it? Sorry for musing out loud about the cover I'm working on, I suppose I'm testing the waters.
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