eBook covers: part 1 – Where size (and ratio) matters

When I started Hague Publishing I thought all we needed to do was to contract an illustrator to do one cover that we could use for the eBook, publicity, and for the cover for a Print on Demand if sales justified it. Unfortunately I was quickly disabused of this because of the wide variety width to height ratios that distributors, and the publishing process requires.

However, I have now come to the view that one size will fit all, so long as all the main elements are contained within a centred, smaller, specified area. Read on as I walk you through why I have come to this view, and what size you should be requesting from the illustrator.

But first of all, what actually is the problem, and here I think two pictures are worth a thousand words. The first picture is how ‘Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics’ is displayed on Amazon.com (ie 152 x 239 pixels).

Sized for Amazon.com

Sized for Amazon.com


However, if you simply use the same picture on Google (229 x 289 pixels), or Apple and Barnes & Noble (260 x 336 pixels) you get the following, which is frankly quite uncomplimentary to Bonnie’s hips.

Apple sized

Apple sized


There are two options here, crop some of the top and bottom off, or do as I did and spend several hours extending the width of the original picture. You will notice that the following picture actually shows the edge of the bus stop. More importantly Bonnie’s hips have returned to their normal size.


Borders extended to fit Apple's requirements

Borders extended to fit Apple’s requirements


To give you some information I have included the following table which sets out the size requirements by our distributors, and more importantly the width to height ratio as at August 2013. I have also included a couple of others size required for Goodreads.com, large size paperback, and the standard cover for an epub.


Width Height Aspect Ratio
(pixels) (pixels)
Distributors HaguePublishing 150 225 0.67
Google 229 289 0.79
B&N and Apple 260 336 0.77
Amazon 152 239 0.64
 Other Goodreads 294 475 0.62
Standard photograph (4″x6″) 1440 2160 0.67
eBookCovers 600 800 0.75
Paperback (13x20cm ie 5.1″x7.9″) 1836 2844 0.65
What might not be obvious is that you can meet these requirements by using three basic ratios and requesting the cover in three sizes (see following):
Supplied for printing Width Height Aspect Ratio
13cmx20cm 13 20 0.65
6″x9″ 6 9 0.67
7″x9″ 7 9 0.78
Earlier I said that we were now commissioning a single piece of art, and this is how we do it. (You can also do it if you have access to some basic editing software such as Photoshop Elements. What you need to do is commission the artwork as 156mm x 206mm (360dpi) but with all the main elements contained within  an area of 130mm x 200mm. This then allows me to simply crop the image to the size required. See the following example from our latest cover design for Shelley’s ‘Lights Over Emerald Creek’. The area outside the interior trim has been greyed out.
Anyway, hope this helps. Next week I’ll cover the question of appearance and typeface, while in the week after that I’ll walk you through the actual design process for ‘The Lights Over Emerald Creek” cover. If there’s anything else you want me to cover don’t hesitate to ask.

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