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What is the most effective method for including illustrations in a Kindle ebook? And what is the preferred DPI and file format?

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You need to ask the question in another way: Do you want a fixed layout book or reflowable text (i.e., epub/kf8). Fixed layout is easier to make illustrations for. –  idiotprogrammer Mar 19 at 17:26

3 Answers 3

DPI/PPI settings aren't used in the web and are based by pixel dimensions and several web images .png, .jpg, and .gif files sometimes do not include the settings in the internal data.

You also didnt mention how you are including the illustrations in the ebook. Are these vector or scanned images?

If vector:

If you have built your illustration in either Illustrator or Inkscape I would use an .svg file format but that is a personal preference. From my understanding, .svg format can be a less file size than exporting the illustration as .jpg or .png.

If images:

I would use .png files because they can be compressed and help reduce your file size. A good compression tool is Tinypng. If you're wanting a command line compression tool there is pngquant but I havent tested it yet.

To request what type of method is most effective would depend on how you tend for the ebook to be viewed. It is common for illustrators to use fixed layout to control how the illustration is viewed. This is common with children's books.

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There's plenty of information about this in section 3.6 of the Kindle Publishing Guidelines. To sum up:

  • use .jpg for photos
  • use .gif for line-art and text
  • use HTML over images whenever possible. "If an image contains whole paragraphs of text, it should not be an image. Instead, it should be HTML."
  • all images should be 300 dpi
  • images should be color when possible and relevant
  • you can also use .bmp, non-transparent .png, and .svg

Personally, I avoid .png when possible, as they seem to end up substantially larger than .jpg files.

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png and jpg are usually not interchangable. If you are inserting a photo, jpg is by far the best option; but if you have a diagram, or a drawing with few colors, png is better. (svg would be still better since it would be scalable) –  mau Mar 20 at 9:25
    
Theoretically, I agree with you, but in practice we've done a bit of testing on various ebook readers and been unable to tell a difference between jpg and png –  Tom Mar 20 at 15:06
    
That would depend on the jpeg quality of course. I wonder why they recommend GIF instead of PNG? –  curiousdannii Mar 24 at 2:47

I just wanted to add that latest version of the "Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines" PDF (updated 1/2014) http://kindlegen.s3.amazonaws.com/AmazonKindlePublishingGuidelines.pdf can be downloaded for free from the Amazon site. This last revision contains a lot of updated recommendations for images.

With the recent guidelines Amazon has changed their philosophy a bit on images (and that is good). Kindlegen performs automatic image conversions, so the guidelines suggest that you can use images of up to 5mb for interior images.

As it happens, I'm currently trying to convert my interior jpg images to svg for reasons of scalability. Amazon's support of SVG seems "adequate" now -- although SVGs are their own kind of beast.

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