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Create a Hardcover Cover

Your cover must be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image. Cover Creator can also help you design a basic cover that meets our specifications.

To format a paperback cover, visit Create a Paperback Cover.


Cover elements

The image below shows the cover file elements of a printed hardcover book. We generate your thumbnail image on the Amazon detail page using the spine edge and top, outside, and bottom book edges as guidelines. This area is illustrated below in guide 2 (front cover).

Cover Specifications

  1. Cover file. Total width and height of the cover file, including front, back, spine, and wrap.
  2. Front cover. Width and height of the visible cover area after it's printed. It's the same for the back cover too.
  3. Margin. Don't place text or images in this area, unless they're intended to wrap to the inside cover.
  4. Wrap. Portion of the cover file that wraps around the case board and is glued to the inside cover.
  5. Hinge. When you open the book, the cover bends here.
  6. Spine. The outside edge of the book where the pages are gathered and bound. A hardcover spine is flat, with a black-and-white headband at the top and bottom of the book if your manuscript is more than 120 pages.
  7. Spine safe area. Place all spine text and images within this area, so they don't shift to the front or back cover during printing.
  8. Spine margin. Don't place text or images in this spine area because they could shift to the front or back cover during printing.
  9. Barcode margin. This area ensures that the barcode doesn't shift during printing and scans properly.

Supported file types and sizes

  • File type. Your cover must be a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  • File size. We recommend a file size of 40MB or less because large files can slow down printing. Cover files larger than 650MB won't convert.

Set your cover size

To set up your file, try our cover calculator and template generator. After you enter your ink and paper choices, trim size, and page count, the calculator will generate a layout in inches (in) or centimeters (cm).

Your cover needs to be sized with wrap in order to meet our print specifications.

Format your cover background

  • Wrap. Cover file images should extend 0.51” (15 mm) past the edge of the front cover. This area will wrap around the case board and be glued to the inside cover.
  • Text and images. All text and images should be 0.635” (16 mm) from the edge of the book. This is 0.125” (3 mm) inside the margin line.
  • Spine hinge. There's a 0.4” (10 mm) space between the spine and safe area on the front and back covers. This flexible spine hinge allows your book to open. Don't include text or the barcode in this area to ensure they aren't distorted.

Barcode size and placement

When you upload your cover, you can choose to provide your own barcode, or we’ll add one for you.

  • You include your own barcode. It has to have a resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI). It also needs to be 2" (50.8 mm) wide and 1.2" (30.5 mm) high. When placing the barcode on your back cover, make sure it doesn't obscure other elements. Place your barcode at least 0.76” (19 mm) from the bottom of the cover and at least 0.25” (6 mm) from the spine hinge. If the barcode doesn't meet our specifications, we'll replace it.
  • You don't choose to include your own barcode. We'll place an ISBN barcode in a 2" (50.8 mm) by 1.2" (30.5 mm) white box in the lower right-hand corner of your book's back cover. If you leave images or text on this part of the cover, the barcode will cover them during printing, so don't leave anything important there.

Pre-publication checklist

Before you upload your file, make sure you:

  1. Save as a PDF. Your cover must be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  2. Flatten all transparencies. These can cause the file to print with missing or distorted content. Consult your software's help documentation to learn how.
  3. Embed your fonts. Consult your software's documentation to learn how.
  4. Remove crop marks, color bars, template text. Crop marks are lines showing where pages should be trimmed. Color bars are strips with a series of patches used to ensure color balance during printing. Also, remove any template text, PDF creation guides, or software references.
  5. Ensure your cover image meets the minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch).
  6. Optimize PDFs. Optimization is useful to reduce your file size, allowing for higher performance when transferring, uploading, viewing, and printing the files.
  7. Remove file security. Locked or encrypted files will fail review.
  8. Check for missing or blank pages. Manuscripts with missing pages, or excessive blank pages will be rejected.

Want to preview your book before making it available to customers? Order a proof copy.

Update an existing cover

To update your cover, follow the instructions below. Please make sure the title, subtitle, and author name match the book details you entered.

  1. Go to your Bookshelf
  2. Click the ellipsis button ("…") under HARDCOVER ACTIONS next to the book you want to update
  3. Choose Edit hardcover content. This takes you to the Hardcover Content page.
  4. Scroll to the "Cover" section
  5. Choose Launch Cover Creator or Upload your cover file to update your cover or upload a cover you already have. Once the content completes the upload process, the message "Cover uploaded successfully" will appear and the conversion process will start. (This can take several minutes depending on the complexity of the file)
  6. Go to the Book Preview section
  7. Click Launch Previewer and review your updated cover.
  8. Click Save and continue. This takes you to the Pricing page.
  9. Click the publish button at the bottom of this page.
If you update your book details (e.g., title, description, categories), manuscript and cover files, or publishing and territory rights, we'll review your book again to ensure it meets our guidelines for book details, content, and quality.

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