A perfect book-reading experience starts with a great storyline but finishes with a beautifully-crafted cover. Learn about the standard book cover sizes, proper resolution, and all the basics you need to know when creating a book cover.
Without a great piece of writing, there is no book. However, a great book cover is crucial to get your masterpiece noticed.
As a writer, it makes sense that you probably focus much more on the creative aspect of writing to make your story interesting rather than on the technical aspect of publishing. These things, however, will become important eventually, and we are here to help. In this article, we will lay down all you need to know about the basics of book cover design, book cover dimensions, aspect ratio and more.
Before we jump into the exact cover measurements for all the different book genres, here are some things you will also need to consider during the process of bringing your book from your laptop to a physical copy to be displayed in a store, and ensuring that the cover works across all the different platforms.
The file format
The format in which you submit the cover file will influence the quality of the final result. The most popular formats for printing are:
- JPG = saves storage space with little perceivable loss in quality
- PNG = high resolution + supports transparency
- TIFF = popular in photography and printing, high image quality (but large file size)
- PDF = fixes the file exactly the way how you want others to see it (regardless of device type or size)
Color and Resolution
You also need to be aware of the various color modes that are used across different mediums. Opt for CMYK for the best results with your cover art for a printed book, and RGB for a digital copy.
Keep in mind that a cover designed to be printed should be of much higher resolution for best quality—about three or four times larger than that of an ebook cover.
Resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch) for printing and PPI (pixels per inch) for digitally-viewed covers. The industry standard for print-on-demand is between 150-300DPI, as anything above that makes the file too large to process.
Standard book cover sizes
Books come in many different sizes for different purposes, and the size you pick for your book will be mainly determined by three factors: printing costs, word count and established genre standards.
Book printing companies charge based on the page count, meaning, a larger book size will decrease the page count and therefore the price. However, try to be intuitive when deciding on the cover size in proportion to the page count. If you are about to publish a lengthy book, similar to one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels coming in at about 800 pages, the book size will have to be bigger for practicality and more comfortable reading experience. If your book is 300 words or under, it can be on the smaller size, leaning more towards the pocketbook dimensions.
It is also important to take into account the already-established standard book size measurements for each specific genre. Fiction book fanatics will be used to a certain feel and look of the book; going too far out of these standards will throw off the readers.
In the same way, a cookbook that is generally on the bigger side in order to provide more space for the hunger-inducing food photography, shouldn’t be too small or too different from this standard.
As a general rule of thumb, unless using a different dimension can be justified by a practical reason, stick to the conventional measurements. We recommend checking out Amazon, which provides product dimensions for books to get a general understanding of the common sizes used among the books of your genre.
Fiction is one of the genres that have the most variation in size, starting at 4.25 inches wide and ending with 5.5, allowing for some leeway in word count as well as the quality and application of the book—is your book intended for a proper sit-down reading session at home or the library, or for passing the time while traveling via public transportation instead of staring at a phone screen? These factors will end up influencing the final size of the book.
In the same way that novels often tell an intimate and personal story, a smaller book cover can feel more comfortable to hold and read than a huge encyclopedia-like book that can feel rational and tough. Using a smaller cover size can help get the book out of the way between the reader and the story, making it that much easier to get into the story.
As the little ones first learn to read through children’s books, the pages contain much more visual images and art to help children perceive the story. In order for the words and the illustrations to be seen as well as for the kids to be able to grip the book, a larger book size is ideal. Bulkier, playful and script typography are also recommended.
Textbooks and books intended to deliver information are typically less concerned with practicality and more with making sure all the knowledge on the topic is contained inside the pages. With that said, as textbooks are typically on the longer side, having too small of a cover size will make the book too thick and bulky to carry around in a backpack, which is a big part of this genre’s book’s use. For this reason, textbooks typically have a hardcover and are also larger in size, making them easier to carry around.
Non-fiction book dimensions float along with the most average sizes, never going too small or big. Non-fiction books also have a variety of categories included in the genre, so there is also a large diversity of sizes for the book covers. Depending on the type of content and how many words and pictures the book will contain, it’s better to opt for bigger sizes.
Memoirs are a great way to connect with an interesting personality and get to know the details of a person’s life. Just like novels, memoirs benefit from choosing a smaller cover size that will not be too uncomfortable and get in the way between the reader and the book when getting to know the personality behind the words.
Bleed, trim and spine calculations
When publishing a book, the cover image is perhaps the most important visual aspect of the process, however, it is not the sole one. Most print-on-demand services will require that on top of the front cover you submit the back cover, the spine and bleed measurements.
Trim and bleed lines are two critical terms that you have to familiarize yourself with to ensure the finished product comes out looking professional and how it was intended to look in the design process. Printers are not 100% precise, and if you have a design that extends all the way to the end of a page (such as in the case of a front cover), you run the chance of having a white line around the edge of your design, which would certainly make it lose quality.
The trim size is the final measurement of the pages (how the pages will look in the bookstore). To take these trim lines into consideration, try to keep all the critical content (text, images) at least ¼ inches or 6.35 mm from the trim line.
The bleed line is the line until which you should extend all the artwork and visual aspects of the page that you wish to go all the way to the edges. This line should go past and be further from the center of the page than the trim line. The general guideline is to have 0.135 inches or 3 mm extra on all sides of the design.
The spine width is calculated by taking into account the page count and paper stock (material which the papers are made from). Various websites and tools can be used to calculate this number, such as Gutenberg, IngramSpark, Print on demand and more.
Digital book cover dimensions
When publishing your book digitally, focus on making sure to meet the retail platform’s specifications for the front cover size rather than the e-reader’s. Most smart devices are smart enough (pun intended) and will adjust the cover according to the size of your tablet or iPad. Where the dimensions do matter, however, is on the website or app where your digital book will be sold, as the “judging the book by its cover” principle still applies here.
Here are some ideal dimensions and ebook cover sizes across various self-publishing platforms, as well as genres of books.
Most self-publishing sites such as Apple Books, Kobo, Lulu Publishing and Smashwords recommend at least 1,400 pixels width ratio for book covers, so aim for these dimensions when creating your digital book cover.
Resources for cover design
As we have hopefully made it clear until now, a great looking cover is an extremely important step in the overall process of book publishing. If it is your first time to self-publish a book and you don’t have in-depth design knowledge, hiring a designer to help make the job easier.
At ManyPixels we offer unlimited design at a fixed price, with as many corrections as you’d want. Check out our website to get yourself a personal graphic designer that’s just one click away!
Also, check out our article on 21 Mesmerizing Book Covers that Fit the Story Perfectly to get inspiration for your perfect cover design.
We also recommend checking out print-on-demand online services that can provide a lot of help and advice along the way on your self-publishing journey, including assisting you in the printing process as well as making copies of your book and sending it out to customers for you. Some of the best ones include, but are not limited to: