One of the many nails in the coffin that can signal the end for a self-published book is a lousy cover. Face it, you actually can judge a book by its cover, and a poorly made or unappealing graphic will imply to readers who browse online that the book isn’t worth their time or money. This is so prevalent that many of the ebook formatting startups incorporate a tiered level of pricing that includes professional cover design, even just to create a thumbnail graphic.
Now, authors have even more reason to take extra care with the design of their book covers. According to a post on the Smashwords blog by CEO Mark Coker, Apple and Smashwords are both making more detailed requirements for book cover images which will go into effect in as little as four weeks. The requirements on pixel size for both ebook distributors is intended to help readers who have some of the newest screens to enjoy the image on the book cover on their higher resolution devices.
Interestingly, Amazon has been only recommending a pixel rate so far, with the optimum being 2,500 pixel height. They further stipulate a 50% greater height than width ratio. Since Apple will begin to raise the required minimum from 600 pixels to 1,400 pixels in width for all new ebook covers, and since Smashwords requires a vertical graphic whose height is greater than width, this means that authors who want their visible and searchable as well as to be listed on either of those sites will have to conform to the new standard.