Why Amazon Say “Don’t Include a Cover”

Whenever we start work formatting an ebook, one of the first things we ask for is the front cover image. And now and then, after we have asked for the cover the response we get is “Amazon say you shouldn’t include the cover in your book.”

And the author is correct 🙂 . If you hunt around on the Amazon site, you will find the sentence “When you publish or republish your book, we will automatically add your cover image to the inside. Do not include your cover image in your manuscript file.”

This section is often quoted on forums and other writer discussion groups. So why do we ask for a cover when Amazon say you shouldn’t include one?

There’s a very simple answer. There are two separate cover requirements for Amazon. 🙂

The note about not including a cover is only if you are uploading a Word or HTML version of your book to Amazon. If you do that, Amazon doesn’t want you to include the cover, because they will automatically add it to your book.

(If you include a cover when you upload a Word or HTML file to Amazon, you run the risk of having two covers in your book, which looks very unprofessional.)

However, when you are uploading a mobi file to Amazon (like we supply), there are a second set of rules you need to follow, that supersede the information on the website.

Amazon has a PDF called “Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines,” which you can download from their site. Inside the file is a list of requirements that mobi files should meet. And if you look in the cover section, you will see the following:

4.2 Internal Content Cover Image Is Mandatory
Kindle books must have an internal cover image provided for use within the book content.

(There is a lot more in that section, but since it goes into HTML details, I won’t include it here. It’s a bit boring if you’re not into technical information 🙂 )

It is interesting to note that Amazon has been a bit flip-flop on actually enforcing this rule over the years. There have been times where they are fine accepting mobi files without a cover, and there have been other times where they are very strict and have rejected mobi files without a cover.

But why risk them rejecting your mobi file? 🙂 Just include the cover within the file, and think of it as one less thing to worry about with Amazon.

(As an addendum, it’s interesting to note that Amazon doesn’t care what image you use for your cover in the mobi file! They treat the image in the file as a placeholder. When you upload your cover image separately in your KDP account, they swap that image into your mobi file. This means you can easily update the cover image for your book, without having to update the image inside the mobi file).