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Pictures on Kindle

Self Publishing Your Kindle Book with Photos, Art, or Graphics


Tips on Formatting Your Ebook’s Images to Make Them Look Great

Sample pictures

By Aaron Shepard

Almost everything you’ve read about formatting pictures for Kindle is wrong. The advice offered by Kindle experts and even Amazon itself can give images that are tiny, blocky, noisy, or wildly inconsistent on different Kindles.

Aaron Shepard, author of acclaimed books on both Kindle and print publishing, brings his years of experience in book design, webmastering, and photography to bear on a single question: How do you make pictures look great on the Kindle? He answers that question, while also providing beginners a basic course in picture editing.

Along the way, he discusses how to keep Microsoft Word from sneakily degrading your pictures; how to adjust HTML code to show images at their best; how to make part of a picture transparent against colored backgrounds; how to boost the power of your cover image as a marketing tool; and how to create anything from children’s books to photography books to poetry books within minutes with the Kindle Comic Creator.

Nowhere else will you find such in‑depth info on working with Kindle images. Whatever kind you’re using—photos, paintings, drawings, diagrams, tables, screenshots—you’ll find Pictures on Kindle an essential guide.

Aaron Shepard is a foremost proponent of the new business of profitable self publishing, which he has practiced and helped develop since 1998. Unlike most authorities on self publishing, he makes the bulk of his living from his self-published books—not from consulting, speaking, freelance writing, or selling publishing services. In a parallel life, Aaron is an award-winning children’s author with numerous books from publishers large and small.

Shepard Publications

Ebook ~ 2013

Paperback ~ 2013

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Book cover: Pictures on Kindle


Getting Started


File Formats


Color Mode

Color Space





Cleanup and Repair


Contrast, Brightness, Tint




Lines and Letters



Pictures in Word

Pictures in HTML

Fixed Format


Submitting and Previewing

Cover Images

Production FAQ

Sample Text

To work with pictures, you’ll need a photo editor like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel PaintShop Pro, Pixelmator, or Gimp. For Kindle-only publishing, Photoshop Elements should do fine. Besides having everything you’re likely to need for Kindle pictures, it maintains the legendary quality of the Photoshop brand, is far less intimidating than its parent program, and is very reasonably priced. You can also find lots of help for it.

For publishing that includes print, Photoshop—not Elements—is no doubt the most capable program you can find. It now comes in two versions. Photoshop CC—Creative Cloud—is the current and most advanced version but is available only by subscription. Photoshop CS—Creative Suite—is the preceding version, still available for outright purchase. That is what I originally used for work on this book and is what I’ve most heavily featured in it.

When I talk about Photoshop without distinguishing the version, I’m talking about CS and Elements—and usually CC as well, though notes on differences will have to wait for a future revision. Specific versions I discuss are Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop Elements 11. Though most of the screenshots here are taken from Photoshop CS, you’ll usually find a similar dialog box in the Expert mode of Photoshop Elements.

By the way, don’t be fooled about this book’s coverage by the name Photoshop, or by it commonly being called a photo editor, or by my many example photos. This book is not just about photos, or even primarily so. Photoshop is the stalwart of graphic artists, art directors, illustrators, and photographers alike. The techniques I describe are ones I’ve learned from using it for everything from photos to illustrations for my own children’s picture books. If photos make up the bulk of my examples, it’s only because I’m no illustrator myself, while I can use my own photos without permission!

In writing this book, I’ve tried to assume that you know little or nothing about dealing with pictures. So, I start by explaining basic properties like format, resolution, and color mode, and then provide a basic course in picture editing. I also give tips on getting the best results from your camera or scanner.

Many of you will want to include pictures in Kindle books that you compose in Microsoft Word. That may well be the most treacherous program you could use for this purpose—but I’ll show you how to do it safely and keep Word from degrading your pictures. (To make sure I got it right, I composed this book in Word.)

Kindle books are built from HTML—the common language of Web pages and ebooks—along with its companion language, CSS. This code provides instructions that help define how pictures in your Kindle book are displayed. So, for those of you with suitable software, workflow, and skills, I’ll also give tips on how to optimize your code for pictures on Kindle.

My focus here is on pictures used to illustrate a book with flowing text—text that adjusts its layout to different screens and also to different font sizes, margins, or spacing chosen by the user. But Amazon offers another kind of book as well: fixed format. In this kind, each page has a static layout and is simply reduced or enlarged to fit the screen.

Though there are disadvantages to fixed format, it may in some ways be the better choice for books featuring pictures more than text. So, toward the end of this book, I discuss a couple of specialized programs you can use to produce Kindle books of this kind, including the Kindle Comic Creator. It’s not just for comics!

Other topics of special interest include tables, screenshots, transparency, children’s books, poetry, cover images, and how to submit your picture files to Amazon KDP.

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