Smashwords New Cover Guidelines

Well, where Amazon goes, others quickly follow.  Today on the Smashwords Blog, we got notice of new Cover Guidelines from Apple, one of the eRetailers that picks up books from the Smashwords Premium catalog.  As of July 15 eBook display covers should be a minimum of 1400 pixels in width with a ratio of 1.5… Smashwords suggests that a cover be 1600 x 2400 pixels. And they are in turn requiring that size for books published to their Premium Catalog after July 15.

Remember, this is the cover image YOU upload on your Smashwords dashboard, the display cover which goes up on the ‘buy’ page of Sony, iBooks, Kobo, etc.  Of course at Smashwords, this is the only cover you have. Your formatter will have sent you a Word.doc with no cover embedded.

If you’re uploading yourself at iBooks/iTunes, you will have an epub from your formatter which will be embedded with a cover and other images (excerpts, etc.), that is NOT the cover I’m talking about. That cover size hasn’t changed and most use an image of 600×900 pixels or an iteration of that and 72 or 96 dpi resolution just to keep the file size down for a manageable upload.

The new cover guidelines are for that Display Cover that pops up on the eRetailer sites with the specs of the book, the cost, reviews, sample options, etc.  When you open a book on your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Sony Reader, whatever, the cover there has been added within the metadata during conversion of your eBook from Word/HTML/Epub or Mobi by your formatter.

So make note: Be sure your cover designer gives you multiple cover images… one being 1600×2560 pixels, one being 800×1280, and one to use as a thumbnail or excerpt image of 200×320.  These sizes all have a 1.6 ratio, a good cover proportion and one that Amazon suggests, not the 1.5 ratio that Smashwords suggests. The cover suggested by Smashwords of 1600×2400 is fine with a ratio of 1.5, but I would tell my designer to abide by that 1.6 ratio rule, but that’s just my preference as an artist. It really makes no nevermind, as my Oklahoma grandmother always said… 1.5 or 1.6, just keep them proportional.

And remember, you can’t just resize an image that you already have. If you’re enlarging the image, you’ll get a very fuzzy picture, not good at all. The best way to do that, and I’m sure most Cover designers abide by this rule, is to start big with high resolution, then size down from there. There are print cover specs that most use, so that they always have one Master image that can be adjusted to whatever format you need, but it’s a BIG image, probably lots more than 1mg in size.  I never use that one when I embed metadata into an epub or mobi file, it makes the file ginormous. Instead I get out my Adobe Elements and just save that biggie to another image at a lesser dpi and smaller size. But then I don’t upload eBook files for clients normally. That’s a publisher’s job and my clients are the publishers of their own works, not me.

Don’t worry, if you have already uploaded (now or before July 15) they won’t reject your cover/eBook. But in the future (after July 15) if you want to change out covers on books you’ve already published, be aware, the new display covers have to abide by these new rules or they WILL reject your file.

Isn’t it always something! I’m really having a hard time keeping up. Now there’s a rumor that KDP will reject your mobi file if it’s been converted using Calibre and not Kindlegen or Kindle Previewer. I’m researching this issue some more though, because 1) I hate using Kindlegen and 2) Kindle Previewer just doesn’t give the output that satisfies me. I have heard through the grapevine that this issue raises it’s evil head only when you ask Calibre to convert to the new KF8 format for Kindle Fire… not something I ever do and none of my clients’ mobi files have been rejected. So no panicking… I’m looking into this and will post later on the mobi/Calibre issue. Until then your eBooks are going live and all is right with the world!


About athirstyblog

If you're a published author and are sitting on a basement full of backlisted books, then you've found the right blog. Although I formerly filled these pages with book reviews, they will now be filled with tips on eBook formatting, talk about the current technology of eBooks, and other stuff that interests me and hopefully interests you. I'm currently an eBook formatter, formerly a bookseller, archaeologist, illustrator and lover of all things historical and scientific. And I'm now a permanent citizen of DownEast Maine with my own beach and 175 year old house and everything! Come along for the Journey!
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4 Responses to Smashwords New Cover Guidelines

  1. Linda E. says:

    I’m so glad you are the one keeping up with all this! I can barely keep up with the Windows upgrades.You’re a treasure!

    • athirstyblog says:

      Cool, you’re following me! Yeah, it’s hard to keep up. Calibre, the software I use now to make both the epub and mobi files, updates about once a day! I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to get my new very fast Dell computer installed!

  2. Pingback: eBook standard sizes for covers « Matt Maldre

    • athirstyblog says:

      Well, Matt… I don’t upload my clients ebooks or covers. But most actually upload 1500×2400 pixels (only Kindle calls for that size in high res… 300dpi)for all platforms. I actually embed into the metadata of the epub and mobi books, a cover which is about 800×1280 and 72-96dpi (whatever their cover artists send me). This is for the actual ebook. Those big cover specs for iTunes, and Kindle are specifically for their websites (the product page for the ebook). And if the ebook is generated correctly, you’ll get no ‘squishing’ of the cover… the aspect ratio is locked (this is done during the conversion process). It isn’t necessary to think about the screen size of readers when you’re converting an ebook… An image will be enlarged or shrunk to fit depending. I preview each book I convert with iPhone and iPad (for both the Kindle app as well as iTunes/epub), Kindle Fire, other Kindle Devices, Adobe Digital Reader (epub), Kindle for PC and whatever other devices I can check. However, if you don’t have your cover sized for the new product page specs (iTunes) they will reject your book. Kindle (KDP) won’t reject the book, but if the size isn’t appropriate, you may not have an image on your product page… not good!

      So to reiterate… the cover artists who do the bulk of the covers for my clients give them 3 covers… 800×1280, 1500×2400 (or bigger) in 96dpi and the same size in 300dpi hi-res. That’s all you’ll need. If I need a small excerpt image, I just take the 800×1280 and resize it down to 200×360.

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