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Writing

How to Choose the Right Book Cover Size: A Guide to Book Dimensions

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 29, 2020 • 4 min read

Whether you’re working on a mass-market non-fiction memoir or self-published indie thriller, deciding on the cover design and size for your book can be a difficult decision. As a writer, its reasonable to think more about the content of your book and less about the front book cover and back cover dimensions and designs—but those things will eventually be important. If terms like width ratio, PPI, and EPUB sound like a foreign language, don’t stress. Whether you’re working with a book designer or are self-designing, here are some tips to help you choose a cover size for both standard print and ebook publishing.

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What Are Industry Standards for Book Cover Design?

If you’re new to book cover design, learning about industry standards can seem like a tall order. Luckily, you can seek the assistance of a book cover designer to help demystify the process for you, or you can study up on your own. Here’s a breakdown of some common terms and standards you’ll come across as you decide on your physical or ebook cover design and size.

  • File type: If you’re submitting a cover file to an online print-on-demand service, you will want to choose the right file type to ensure the best quality while still keeping the file size down. Most websites accept TIFF, JPG, and PNG files (and occasionally PDF).
  • Color settings: When deciding what color mode to use, you will want to opt for RGB if your book cover is designed to be viewed online and CMYK if it’s going to be printed.
  • Resolution: When measuring resolution, you’ll use PPI (pixels per inch) if your cover is designed to be viewed digitally, and DPI (dots per inch) if your cover will be printed. Most print-on-demand websites won’t accept file sizes over 2 megabytes and therefore high resolutions at 300 DPI or above are generally not used because they increase the file size too much. The industry standard is 72 DPI. Using anything below 72 risks a blurry cover image.

What Are Standard Book Cover Sizes?

Book cover dimensions can affect everything from spine width to the typography you choose for your titles. Trim size is publishing lingo for book size. Page trim is denoted in inches in the US and millimeters in countries that use the metric system. Below is a non-exhaustive list of standard book cover sizes (in inches) listed by genre:

  • Mass market paperback: 4.25 x 6.87
  • Trade Paperbacks: 5.5 x 8.5 to 6 x 9
  • Hardcover books: 6 x 9 to 8.5 x 11
  • Fiction books: 4.25 x 6.87, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9
  • Nonfiction books: 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9, 7 x 10
  • Novellas: 5 x 8
  • Children’s books: 7.5 x 7.5, 7 x 10, 10 x 8
  • Textbooks: 6 x 9, 7 x 10, 8.5 x 11
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What Are Standard Ebook Sizes?

Ebook publishing is where the majority of novice authors publish their work. Before you finalize an ebook cover, it’s important to investigate standard ebook cover sizes. The cover size you arrive at will most likely depend on what sort of ebook you are publishing. Below is a list of standard ebook cover sizes, listed in pixels, followed by an aspect ratio, in parentheses:

  • Kindle Direct: 2,560 x 1,600 (1.6:1)
  • Novels and non-fiction: 2,560 x 1,600 (1.5:1)
  • Illustrated books: 2,800 x 3,920 (1.4:1) or 3,000 x 3,600 (1.2:1)
  • Audiobook: 3,200 x 3,200 (1:1)

How to Choose the Right Book Cover Size

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with standard dimension choices for ebooks and physical books, consider some other factors that might affect the cover size you end up selecting:

  • Reader size: Many readers use a personal e-reader to consume new books. A thorough familiarity with the size of standard e-readers and how they display covers can help you choose an appropriate cover size.
  • Genre: Different genres generally adhere to different size specifications. Sometimes a story doesn’t fall neatly into one genre or another. Deciding on how your book is going to be packaged and marketed can help you decide on an appropriate size for your print book and ebook cover image.
  • Word count: When you choose a cover and page size, you should definitely take word and page count into consideration. Different sizes of covers better complement books of varying lengths. You wouldn’t want to choose a large page size for a short novella. Nor would you want to choose a small cover size for a long hardcover book with a matte dust jacket.
  • Place of sale: Thinking about where your book will be primarily sold can help you determine the appropriate cover size. If you’re working on a printed book, consider whether it is a mass-market paperback book or a more niche academic text. If your book has a large publisher attached, they may handle these decisions, but self-publishers will have to make most of these choices themselves.
  • Designer: Working with a designer can help you make important decisions about image size, cover art, and page size. If you’re self-publishing your own book, you may not have the luxury of hiring an outside designer and may want to take on design responsibilities yourself. The more educated you are about book cover size and how it affects cost and marketing, the better prepared you will be to design your own cover image.
  • Cost: Size requirements play a huge role in the cost of publishing a book. If you are self-publishing, choosing a smaller paperback size that keeps costs down can be very important for your bottom line.

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