Paperback Book Covers for KDP

Paperback Book Covers  Many self-published authors start off with ebooks and eventually decide to publish a hard cover or paperback book too.  The benefits are tremendous as Amazon will automatically pair your ebook with the paperback on Amazon and it looks very professional to have both available, not to mention the satisfaction of having a paperback copy of your book in your own hands.

Another benefit is that the paperbackpage count is displayed for the ebook too – so your ebook can look a bit thicker.

But then the question arises – “Can I use the same cover that I used for my ebook?” The answer is, “No!  You need a paperback book cover.”

What is the difference between a paperback book cover and an ebook cover?

Yes, paperback book covers:

  •  are designed strictly in 300 dpi, not 72dpi as some ebook covers may be.
  • have a back and spine in addition to the front of the book – and thus comes in a double-page layout – the back page is not only visible in the physical edition, but on Amazon there is a “Flip to Back” button that can enable one to see the back page online – CLICK HERE TO CHECK AN EXAMPLE IN AMAZON. Click the “Flip to the Back” button, then click on the back cover image for a larger close-up view in a new window. Hence back page design is also very important.
  •  are normally designed in CMYK colour mode and not RGB due to requirements of printers – this generally results in a slight change in the colour of the book cover compared to the ebook cover that needs to be in RGB for digital display.
  • do not need lettering to be as bold as in the ebook format – in fact the ebook letters need to be scaled down at times otherwise they can really look out-of-place and exaggerated.
  • can have more detail than ebook covers, as they are not viewed in thumbnail size
  • must have bleed lines around to allow for slight printing shifts –  no important images or text should be placed inside this bleed area – often one needs to shift things in a bit from the ebook cover.
  • may have an ink percentage limit (such as 300%) depending on the publisher/printer you use.

Where can I get a paperback cover for my ebook?

Most ebook cover designers will do the paperback format for an extra fee. There is also the option to use the online “Create-a-Cover” templates in KDP Paperback to build a cover yourself – however this limits your layout and design options and most authors prefer to have a custom-designed paperback cover that matches with the ebook cover.  Usually the text on the front needs to be readjusted too so the ebook cover does not work that well in the online templates.

An extra fee?  Why?  Don’t they just stick the same front cover in and add a simple back side?

No, very often the paperback cover is done from scratch in a new file with a double-page layout and much bigger pixel size.  The proportions are different from the standard ebook covers, and if the book cover is not done over entirely – placing and tweaking images and text – it will end up looking like this!  (Apart from the fact that back covers need designing too!

) On Top of the World  On Top Of the World Paperback Cover Changes Sample

Even if you choose a 6 x 9 paperback cover – the fact is the 6 x 9 cover is actually 6.25 x 9.5 in their template with the additional bleed space… One also has to be careful with the spine and straight edges – this is the recommendation:

“Every book will vary slightly when bound. Allow for 0.0625″ variance  on either side of the fold lines for your cover. For example, if your  spine width is 1″, your text should be no wider than 0.875”. Because of  this variance, avoid hard edges or lines that end on the fold line.”

So what’s the size for a paperback book cover? If you use a publisher or printer, they will give you available book sizes to choose from.  Amazon KDP Paperback offers 15 different standard book size options:
  • 5 x 8 inches
  • 5.06 x 7.81 inches
  • 5.25 x 8 inches
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • 6.14 x 9.21 inches
  • 6.69 x 9.61 inches
  • 7 x 10 inches
  • 7.44 x 9.69 inches
  • 7.5 x 9.25 inches
  • 8 x 10 inches
  • 8.25 x 6 inches
  • 8.25 x 8.25 inches
  • 8.5 x 8.5 inches
  • 8.5 x 11 inches

The most popular sizes are 6 x 9, 5.25 x 8 and 5.5 x 8.5.  Check other books in your genre in book stores to decide which size is best to use. Based on the dimensions plus the thickness of your book according to the number of pages, the publisher will provide book cover dimensions, including:

  • Total size
  • Spine width
  • Bleed size
  • ISBN barcode placement

Did you say ISBN?  How do I get a barcode? Most publishers have an option to assist you in registering for an ISBN and also for obtaining a barcode. You may have to pay for this. For Amazon KDP there are options of using a free ISBN, a Custom paid ISBN or your own ISBN.  Either way KDP will provide a barcode for that ISBN, the designer just leaves a space in their indicated place.

For more details regarding pricing of ebook and paperback book covers, please visit my Pricing/Process Page.  

Briefly, I charge $75 to turn an ebook cover that I designed into a paperback version. Please note I am no longer doing paperbacks for other publishers apart from KDP, due to complications in measurements and other specifications. KDP (Amazon) is clear in their requirements and I can recommend their products with confidence.  I do also design cover for Ingramspark – please refer to the Ingramspark Page.



VERY IMPORTANT:  To do a paperback cover I need to know three things:

1.  The size of your book (e.g. 6×9 or 5.5 x8.5)

2.  The type of paper – white or cream

3.  The exact page count AFTER upload to KDP Paperback (Yes, AFTER UPLOAD TO THE PAPERBACK SECTION – not after upload to KDP Ebook as it will not be the same, and not after insertion into an Interior Template as it will still change after upload) – it has happened several times that an author gives me a page count and then a week later they tell me that after upload to KDP Paperback the page count has changed.  Recently I had a case where the page count changed from 160 to 330. That makes a HUGE difference in spine width and size!  In such cases I have to redo the cover from scratch.   To avoid this please upload the book manuscript to KDP Paperback first and get the exact page count from them before asking me to do the paperback cover.

If I am not given the correct page count and have to redo a cover, I will have to charge extra for that.  I charge $25 to redo a cover that was incorrect or rejected on account of being given wrong information with regards to book size, page count or paper colour.

I will also need the back blurb/summary – either pasted into an email or as a Word attachment.  Keep in mind that very long blurbs end up looking crowded and the lettering has to be made small to fit – which can be hard to read.  The ideal length for the blurb is between 100 – 200 words, no more than 250.

Optional elements include one or more of the following (the space is much less than you think so please plan carefully!):

Author’s website address

Excerpts from reviews (one or two only!) and/or quotes from the book (no more than one or two!!)

Short author bio and image (usually to fit in the bottom left corner)

Logo (you have to get one designed – stock images may not be used as logos – though some stock sites offer a special logo license but it is very costly). Stock images may only be used if it is an informal unofficial logo that will not ever be registered as a trademark or company logo, so we can use a stock icon as a symbol for the series or informal author icon.

The more written info on the back though, the less space for images or design elements.  I like to be creative with the back and I do not simply repeat the front cover on the back as some designers do.  If there are any elements from the book that may be added to the back please let me know…

To see some samples of eBook covers and their accompanying Paperback Covers, visit my Portfolio or my Print Wrap (Paperback) Portfolio.


  1. I have to admit writing the book is easy the cover is getting the better of me. But thank you for the useful advice on your site regarding ebooks and paperbacks, at least that makes sense to me.

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