You have prepared your manuscript and are ready to e-publish. Now you need to know how to prepare your book images and upload your Kindle book cover to the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing system. There are two covers you will need: the Product Cover and the Internal eBook Cover. The best file format is JPG, which is acceptable for publishing both the product and internal cover image.

NOTE: I will be talking about the Product display and internal cover only. (not book covers for print)

Formatting Images Inside Your Kindle Book

Kindle Direct Publishing will convert your images and text for upload to the Amazon Kindle Store as well as display on Kindles and other supported devices. Kindle Direct Publishing can process your book covers in the following formats:

  • GIF (or.gif)
  • PNG (or.png)
  • BMP (or.bmp)
  • JPEG (or.jpeg)

NOTE: Images will appear in color ONLY on the Kindle Fire device. All other Kindle devices will display black and white.

Internal Book Cover

The best formats to use for the internal Kindle e-book cover is a JPG or GIF image, 127 KB* size at 300 dpi. This will provide enough clarity for images, particularly for large images, or content with gradient patterns. But you also don’t want the e-book file size to become too large.

*Amazon recommends a 127K size for book covers. “The largest element of almost any Kindle book will be the image content. Inside your book file, the Kindle book format supports JPEG and GIF images up to 127KB in size. Images that are in other formats supported for upload to KDP (such as BMP or PNG), or that exceed this file size requirement, will be automatically recompressed as JPEG files during the conversion process. Optimizing your images to fit these requirements before uploading to KDP will help decrease the size of your uploaded file. It will also reduce the chance of encountering difficulties in conversion due to large file size.” HOWEVER once the reader has purchased your e-book, the Internal eBook cover is a moot point — they may go and look at your e-book cover, but most do not.

Image Processing

If you choose to upload your Word (.doc) file, and you have embedded images in your content, Kindle Direct Publishing automatically extracts images from the content and replaces them with an HTML img tag. This process converts each image to a separate image file, which becomes a part of your content’s publication package (MOBI)

Note: Images do not display accurately when you preview an uploaded file. For instance, larger images may resize or rotate when previewed. If your book has a lot of images, it can be viewed in color by the Kindle Fire or by readers using our free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows 7 devices. Otherwise, remember that images on Kindle (with the exception of the Fire) are displayed in 16 shades of gray for great contrast and clarity.

The Product Display Book Cover

The product display cover is the image that resides on the virtual bookshelf in the Amazon Kindle Store. It must be 72 dpi and I recommend a JPG file. I commonly create the product cover from the 600 x 800 Internal book cover. The product image needs to be crisp, sharp, and does not need to be any larger the 127K, however, Kindle Direct Publishing accepts two types of files for product display cover images:

  • JPEG, or.jpeg
  • TIFF, or.tif(f)

KDP applies additional compression to images when displaying them on its website. For best results, images should be uploaded with minimal compression.

Dimensions

I have found the best size to create your cover is 600 x 800 pixels. This is slightly more square than an 6 x 9 inch book cover. In addition, the product cover is displayed on the Web, so the resolution only needs to be 72 dpi for optimal viewing.

Requirements for the size of your cover art:

  • Image dimensions of at least 500 by 800 pixels — 600 x 800 pixels produces a full screen cover image.
  • Do not make your image any larger than 2000 pixels on the longest side.
  • Save at 72 dots per inch (dpi) for optimal viewing on the web.

Use Color

Color attracts attention so use color images whenever possible and relevant. The Kindle Fire offer exceptional color clarity, so use color images in your e-book. Although the other Kindle reading devices have a black and white screen, Amazon has Kindle apps for other devices, such as iPhone or PC, which takes advantage of color fonts and images. All images on the Web display using RGB (red, green, blue) color mode, which is the color mode native to the Web and many color screen displays. Combinations of these three colors at varying levels of intensity create over 16 million colors.

Borders for White Cover Art

Cover art with white or very light backgrounds will disappear against the Amazon Kindle Store white background. Adding a very narrow (3-4 pixel) border in medium gray to the Product Book cover Image will define the boundaries of the cover.

Uploading Your Cover to Amazon KDP

To publish on Amazon, you need a Kindle Direct Publishing account.

  1. Log in to your KDP account at http://kdp.amazon.com/.
  2. Select the checkbox next to the book you want to edit
  3. Select the “Actions” drop-down menu under your book list and choose “Edit book details.”
  4. Scroll down to the heading labeled “Product Image.”
  5. Click on the button named “Browse for Image…”
  6. A pop-up window will appear. Click the button named “Browse.”
  7. Locate your cover image file on your computer, click “Open.”
  8. Click the “Upload Image” button.
  9. Uploaded Successfully! will appear along with the preview image.
  10. When you have entered all other information scroll to the bottom of page and click “Save and Continue.”

Rights and Pricing

You are almost done. On this page you will need to reconfirm Content Rights, and click “Save and Publish” at the bottom of the screen. Changes will take effect on the web site within 24 hours. NOTE: The previewed image serves only as a placeholder while your book completes the publishing process. The publishing process can take about 24 hours (longer if they are backed up). So be patient.

When to Publish

Planning ahead is best, so if you want your book to be live and ready for purchasing by a certain date, then pre-prepare your book publishing information long before you plan to publish. The book sits in “Draft” mode until you publish. Just make sure you change the date on the publication before you publish. If you started the process in March 2011, and finally publish in July, the March date will be used. When working on your ebook, if you don’t have a product image Kindle will add a placeholder image to the Amazon detail page for your eBook. DO NOT LEAVE IT THAT WAY! Although the Kindle placeholder contains the title of your book and the first contributor name you entered, it is a generic book cover. While ANY cover produces a better customer experience than displaying a message that an image is not available, nothing can beat a well designed and enticing book cover.

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