Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Cover Images From

Warning: This article is off topic. I provide it for the benefit of other bloggers, and I need a handy reference myself.

Sometimes I need a book cover image for a blog article. And generally, I get it from Amazon. I can generally fall within the fair use doctrine of copyright law by

  1. using the image for non-commercial, educational use,
  2. limiting usage to just the cover of the book,
  3. using a small thumbnail of the cover, and
  4. not compromising the market value of the cover or book.

I also try and return fair value in exchange for the value I receive. I do this by linking the image back to the Amazon page where they sell the book. (I’ve heard the Amazon terms and conditions require this.) Oh; and to avoid stealing bandwidth from Amazon, I download the image and host it on my blog instead of linking to it.

The URL format for Amazon book covers is:

iiiiiiiiii is the 10-digit ISBN with the dashes removed. If you examine the URL when viewing a book product page on, you’ll likely see an alternative code of the form /I/xxxxxxxxxxx. While I don’t know what it means, be advised that this identifier can change over time.

_oooo is an option which you can leave out, or include one or more of

  • _PAm,x,y,b – shadow: m=margin; x,y=offset right,down; b=blur (example: _PA10,5,5,10)
  • _PB – shadow below and left
  • _PC – shadow below and right
  • _BOw,r,g,b – border: w=width; r,g,b=color (0-255) (example: _BO5,255,0,0)

If you see any of the following options used on images on Amazon, you generally want to remove them to get rid of the icon from the cover image:

  • _PGaaaa – place icon aaaa along bottom of image
  • _PHaaaa – place icon aaaa along top of image
  • _PIaaaa,o,x,y – place icon aaaa at x,y relative to origin o.

SCsZZZZZZZ is the size code and can be

  • SCTZZZZZZZ – tiny (85 x 121)
  • SCMZZZZZZZ – medium (124 x 176)
  • SCLZZZZZZZ – large (389 x 550)
  • SXx – set width to x (example: SX50)
  • SYy – set height to y (example: SY50)
  • SLs – set size of longer dimension to s (example: SL50)
  • SSs – set size of longer dimension to s, then white fill to get a square image (example SS50)
  • AAs – same as SS. Change to SL to eliminate whitespace.

Be forewarned that the size specified will be the final size of the image, and the book cover will be reduced in size to account for any adornments added such as shadows and borders.


For more information, see Nat Gertler, “Abusing Amazon images,” ( : accessed 9 June 2009).

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.