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Abusing Amazon images

by Nat Gertler

Created May 21, 2005. Last updated January 10, 2014. Thanks to Aryeh Leib Taurog for the hover code.

Amazon.com feeds out a lot of product images, putting out the same book cover (say) in a variety of sizes and formats. By experimentation, I found that they don't actually have all the sizes and formats stored. Instead, they have a system that generates each requested image. The details of size and format are built into the image's URL. What that means that, if you want, you can create URLs that generate odd and unlikely Amazon images (you can see my gallery of images here). The proper combination of product choice and added elements and effects could create an interesting visual. What you see here is my best understanding of things based on trial and error and messing with various example URLs I've found. Hover over the example images to see the full address of the image.

Let's take a look at an example


The first part -http://ezw.images-amazon.com/images/ - varies for some of the foreign Amazon sites. You may see http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/ but this appears to have no impact on the image that results. (You may see older links to images using http://images.amazon.com/images/ on non-Amazon sites, which is the old location and which still works.)

The next part - P/ - indicates the format of the product code. The rest is a series of variable fields, each field separated from the next by a period (or, for those who live solely in web URLs, a "dot".)

  • 0971633894 is the product code. There are two formats used for the product code - if the previous part was P/ this is the ASIN, the identifier that Amazon uses for every item it stocks. For books, this is the 10-digit ISBN, stripped of its dashes. You can find the ASIN in the product details section of any Amazon product listing. If the previous part was I/ this is some sort of funky 11-digit code that indicates not just the product, but also where the image was originally found. I've not been able to pull this apart into useful information yet, but it does not include some user tracking indicator as I first feared. If you're trying to build your own image generator, stick with the P/ format.
  • 01 used to be the country field, but now is always set to 01 (although it still works if you want to set the country code). Different Amazons in different countries have different images stored for individual products, as well as different add-on images and percent-off bullet formats. (If there isn't a local version of the image for a country's database, or if you use an unused country code such as 06, it defaults to the US version. For at least some Japanese products, there is no US image stored, and no image will appear if you use another country code.)
    • 01: The US (Amazon.com) and Canada (Amazon.ca) and as best as I can tell, China (Amazon.cn). (This can sometimes be followed by a dash and then a fairly long alphanumeric string, then a .PT01. - this is for products that have alternate views. Changing that .PT01. to .PT02. gives the next view, and so forth.)
    • 02: The UK (Amazon.co.uk). This uses a slightly different bullet design.
    • 03: Germany (Amazon.de) For a long time, this slot actually held the alternate, original solicitation cover for this book. The Germans didn't get percentage-off bullets until sometime between August and October of 2005 (and even so, they originally had no support for discounts of less than 10 percent, although they now do).
    • 08: France (Amazon.fr)
    • 09: Japan (Amazon.co.jp)
  • _PE20_SCMZZZZZZZ_ gives information on the size of the image and adornments added to the image. I've found three formats that this field can have.
    1. THUMBZZZ - just the size code. This works only for certain size codes
    2. 20SCZZZZ - (NOTE: AS OF AUGUST 2008, THIS FORMAT APPEARS TO BE DISABLED, RETURNING JUST AN IMAGE WITH NO BULLET.) the percent discount followed by the size code. This only works with certain size codes. Using 00 will generate an image without a bullet, while 1C presents a special one cent bullet. (The one cent bullet is only available for country code 01.)
    3. _PE20_SCMZZZZZZZ_ - a string of commands separated by underscores, including lead and end underscores. A list of known size codes and commands is below.
  • jpg - This can be jpg, jpeg, png, or gif. Oddly, it doesn't matter. The file will be a JPEG format graphics file no matter what extension you use (unless you vary it with the FM code descrbed below). You can even get away with using no extension, with or without the leading period. However, you can't just put random characters for the extension.

size codes

The size codes that I've found all seem a mite odd to me. They all end in a number of Zs, and I imagine there is some significance to the number that I've not found, but you can't just mess with them. Each size code works only with a certain option format

Option format 1

THUMB (can be followed by any number of Zs) or H

small size.

T (can be followed by any number of Zs)

medium image size.

Any other (or no) string

default image size

Note: Before August, 2008, ZTZZZZZZ or any other eight-letter string starting with the second letter being T would add a drop shadow to the left, unless the fourth letter was an L, in which case it would drop right.

Prior to July 2006, these commands also tilted the image to the left, unless the third or fourth letter was an R, in which case the tilt was to the right.

L, LZ, or LZZ

large size.

Option format 2

As of August 2008, option format 2 (with a bullet value followed by a string which could cause a tilt or a drop shadow) is no longer working; anything designed for format 2 is simply treated as format 1.

Option format 3


small size.


medium size.


large size.


HUGE size.

Too huge to fit comfortably on this web page - we're talking megapixel images. Please note that this option is only available for items that have a ZOOMing picture on its amazon web page, and it doesn't work for all of the domain names - but if you have a page with a zoomable picture, try doing this with ec2.images-amazon.com as the host. Click here for an example image


The commands (for use only in format 3) I've found so far are

Borders and shadows | Bullets and adornments | Text | Size adjustment | Rotation | Image adjustments

Borders and Shadows

  • PB - Put a drop shadow on the image, down and to the left. Note:
  • PC - Put a drop shadow on the image, down and to the right. As of August 2008, these only works if there is at least two underscores following the PB or PC in the command string (they need not be directly in a row; they can follow other commands) or there are further arguments.These are only designed to look like a real shadow for rectangular items such as books. If you want it to look like a real shadow, make sure to put this command before any PE, PI,or rotate command. If you add an argument to it (such as PC,4) the total image size is reduced, unless you add exactly five arguments, as in PC10,129,75,55,33, in which case blank space is added around the edges of the image. This will add 10 pixels to both the width and the height, then add 129 pixels just to the height, then add 75 just to the width. I haven't yet found what effect the 55and 33 have.
  • PA10,6,-8,20 - This is a more complete drop-shadow tool. The first number is the number of pixels added to the image in each dimension, generally just adding blank area. The second is how far the shadow's edge is from the item's edge horizontally in pixels (positive values go to the right, negative to the left). The third is how far the shadow's edge is from the image's edge vertically (positive values go down, negative values go up.) The final number sets how sharp and dark the shadow is - 0 would be perfectly square, while higher numbers make the shadow ever fuzzier and lighter.
  • BO10,155,0,145 - Adds a border around the picture. The first number is the border thickness in pixels, and can be up to at least four digits long, which is more than you'll ever need. The remaining three values are the border color in decimal-represented RGB. For those of you who aren't so versed in geekspeak, what this means is you're mixing a color together using red, green, and blue. There's a number for the amount of red (running from 0 to 255), followed by one for the amount of green, followed by one for the amount of blue.

Bullets and adornments

  • PF - Puts a half-disc image sticking out of the side of the product.Adding a value after this decreases the size of the existing image and adds space between the existing image and the disk image. (As of August 2008, if PF is your only argument, include an extra underscore after it or it won't work properly.)
  • PE55 - Puts a percent discount bullet on the lower right of the image. Value can be 01-99; 00 means no bullet, 1C is a one cent bullet. (The one cent bullet is only available if the country code is set to 01.)
  • PD55 - Same as PE except the bullet is on the lower left.
  • PIsm.arrow,TopLeft,-2,-19 or PJsm.arrow,TopLeft,-2,-19 - Adds another sort of bullet to the image. (PI adds whitespace around the image when it does so; PJ does not, unless the bullet goes beyond the edge of the image)
    • sm.arrow - the type of bullet. So far, the bullets that I've found are:
  • The following only work with country code 01 (the US/Canada)
    sitb-dp-500-arrow   litb-dp-500-arrow
    ("sitb" means "Search Inside The Book") . ("litb" means "Look Inside The Book")
    look-inside-v2 look-inside release-day-del-sticker


    Works not only for 808, but also for all values 2-25,30,35,40,50,60, and 70.


    The following only work with country codes 01 and 02 (the US/Canada and the UK)
        dp-schmooS dp-schmoo2
        (a "shmoo" is a white bulbous creature from the Li'l Abner comic strip that the little figure here resembles.)
    The following put out a different image based on country code
    sitb-st-arrow sitb-sm-arrow sitb-sticker-dp-arrow


    sitb-sticker-arrow-dp   sitb-sticker-arrow-click  
    The following only work with country code 02 (the UK)
    uk-r-fp-299 uk-y-fp-9999 uk-r-fd-1 uk-y-fd-18
    These values can be set to 299, 399, and so on up to 9999, plus 19999. This values can be anything from 1 to 18, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 This values can be anything from 1 to 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100
    uk-r-ss-new uk-y-ss-new uk-r-ss-save uk-y-ss-save
    The following only work with country code 03 (Germany)
    sticker-neu-r mit-praemie-sticker3 de-ambir-sticker-o sticker-preishit-r
    "New" "Premium"   "Hit Price"
    This doesn't seem to work on the old image server format
    autoripBadge     =
    • TopLeft - where the placement of the bullet is measured from. TopLeft, TopRight, BottomLeft and BottomRight all work. TopLeft is the default,if you enter meaningless data here.
    • -2,-19 - the placement of the bullet. The first number is horizontal - positive values place to the right, negative values to the left. The second number is vertical - positive down, negative up.
    • The following image codes have been discontinued: m.arrow (country 01), st.arrow and t.arrow (countries 01 and 02), and sm.arrow (countries 01, 02, and 03). These were search-inside-type arrows without the trademark, if memory serves. Also disabled from country code 01: kin-dp-500 (I no longer recall what this was) and m.schmu (which was one of the little white blobby guys peeking over the edge of things.)
  • PGsitb-sm-arrowand PHsitb-sm-arrow- Stretches the bullet to take up the full width of the image. PG places it on the bottom of the image, PH on the top.
    • sitb-sm-arrow - Any of the bullets from the above list.
  • OU02 - This overrides the country-code setting for which bullets can be displayed, while still using the original country code setting for the selection of the product image:
    • OU01 (use the US/Canada bullets)
    • OU02 (use the UK bullets)
    • OU03 (use the German bullets)
    • OU08 (use the French bullets)
    • OU09 (use the Japanese bullets)
      • Note that OU has the same effect no matter where in your command string it lands (although if you have two OU commands, only the first is used.)


  • ZAText%20stuff,5,15,100,100,times,20,255,40,240 - Adds text. That's a long command, but it has a lot of stuff. When writing out the text content, you may run into problems if you use characters that are not letters or numbers (such as spaces, commas, and so forth), because they may be misinterpreted in a URL. Instead, you have to use encoded ASCII values. Use %20 for a space, %2C for a comma, %2E for a period, and go here to look up other characters. The next two fields (5,15) are the position of the upper left corner of the text area, measured from the upper left corner of the image. In this case, it's 5 pixels down, 15 to the right. The next two figures show where the bottom right of the text area is, 100 pixels to the right and 100 down from upper left of the text box. This is important because word wrap will be done based on where the right edge of the text box is. After that is the font, and so far I've identified five: times, arial, arialbi (arial bold italic), verdenab (which is presumably some sort of misspelling of verdana, a common font), and advc128d (a bar code font, used on package labels for postal routing and tracking). Next (20) is the font size, and then a three-digit RGB code for the text color. (You can see RGB codes explained in the BO command discussion.)
  • ZC - The same as ZA, except that it places the text box so that the longest line of text in the box is centered on the image. This is good centering if you have only one line of text. It doesn't center each individual line so the left edge of shorter lines will still lign up with the left edge of the longest line.

Size adjustment

  • AA25 - This resizes the image to a fixed pixel dimension (setting its larger dimension, with the smaller one set in proper proportion). It seems like you can set any number up to the actual size that the image is stored at Amazon; above that, this adds white space to around the borders of your image. Expanding to the point where you're adding white space also appears to shrink the bullet. (I need to do a little more exploring here to get the details worked out.) Values from 1 to at least 5000, by which point you're so far beyond the size of any actual image at Amazon that there's no point in thinking about it.
  • SX25 - This reduces the image to be the listed number of pixels in width, with the height being reduced proportionately.
  • SY25 - This reduces the image to be the listed number of pixels in height, with the width being resized proportionately.
  • SL25 - This reduces the size of the image so that the larger dimension (width or height) becomes the size listed, with the smaller dimension reduced proportionately. If the value is larger than the larger dimension size that would otherwise be put out, this has no effect on the image.
  • SS25 - This resizes the image to a square image, a fixed number of pixels in both height and width. It does this not by distorting the image, but by scaling the image so that the larger dimension is the listed size and blank white pixels are added to the side to fill it out. If you set a value larger than the actual size of the source image as stored on the Amazon server, white space will be added all around the image.
  • CR0,10,20,15 - This crops the image, trimming away everything but a selected rectangular area. The first two numbers indicate the upper left-hand corner of the selection area (the first is how many pixels from the left, the second is how many pixels down from the top). The next two numbers are the width and height of the selected area, in pixels.Note: this was a great way to trim away the excess white space left by other commands,,. which other commands used to create, although that was greatly reduced sometime around July 2007. You have to take the time to crop precisely for a given image. If you set the crop area to go beyond the edge of the image, the image will merely be resized with white space added.


  • PT85 - Tilts the image. Number is number of degrees. Default (no number) is 0. The values seem to range as high as 135. Positive values rotate to the right, negative numbers rotate to the left. Negative numbers go... well, I stopped testing in the hundreds of millions, but there's not much need to go beyond -360, which takes it full circle. Positive rotations in some values seem to cause severe image shrinkage, so you should consider using a size adjustment after rotation.
  • PU45 - Tilts the image to the left. Number is number of degrees. Default (no number) is about 5 (although ends up with slightly different size image than actually using 5). Range is 0-99.
  • PV45 - Same as PU, except tilting to the right. Note: PU and PV stopped functioning around July 2006, but were restored by July 2007

Image Adjustments

  • HL60,100,30,15,80 - This highlights an area of the image. The first two numbers indicate the upper left-hand corner of the highlighted area (the first is how many pixels from the left, the second is how many pixels down from the top). The next two numbers are the width and height of the highlighted area, in pixels. The fifth number is the degree of adjustment. Values from 0 through 255 give an ever more solid color, with 255 leaving the block solid. (Values above 255 just repeat the 0-255 range.) For cool effects, however, you should try negative values.
  • BL10 - This blurs the image. The number appears to be the blur raidius, so the larger a number you enter, the blurrier your image will get..
  • SH94 - This sharpens the image, increasing the contrast between adjacent pixels of different color to make the difference stand out. Values are 00-99. Small values (say, 20) can have a nice effect on images that don't look distinct. Large values find insignificant color differences and turn them into noise while draining the image of color.
  • FMgif - This sets the output format of the file. Acceptable arguments are jpg (the default), jpeg (same format), gif, and png. Be careful with this command - whereas messing up your argument for most options will at worst output a blank image file, messing up this one will give you a 404-file not found response.
  • BD1 - This options works only with the FMgif option (file format set to gif.) This sets the bit depth, the number of bits that the file uses to represent each pixel. Values range from 1 (which will mean that your entire image only has 2 colors) to 8 (256 colors).

The cool thing (if you want to generate unlikely Amazon images) is that you're not limited to one use of any of these commands. You can have multiple discounts, multiple shadows, multiple bullets, generating images that Amazon would never have on its site. However, every additional command you add generates another 10% to the image dimensions, adding white space around the image. And that 10% compounds; add a lot of bullets, and you'll find that you have a small image in a large blank space. (You can use the CR command to cut away the excess, however.) Note also that the commands are interpreted in order, which can have an impact on what overlaps what.

other images

There are other, non-product images lurking around Amazon which you can similarly abuse. In fact, any image coming from images.amazon.com or g-images.amazon.com can be subject to this. There are some images that were specifically designed for such use. For example, at


you will find , which is designed to be used with the ZC tag to list price discounts, like or .

At http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/nav/personalized/tabs/yourstore-off-sliced.gif

you find , which was used in an old set of Amazon page headers to personalize things like . But if you check the source for any image you see on Amazon's pages, you can probably abuse it. Just add a period followed by a string of commands before the .gif or .jpg at the end of the image name.

on beyond...

Are there other secrets, other commands, other things to be discovered about the Amazon product image system? Almost certainly.

Note: all of the product images on this page are coming directly from Amazon. If you don't quite get the URL information being discussed, right-click (Windows) or ctrl-click (Mac) on the image, and chose your browsers command to view the image, or to copy the image address which you can then paste into the address field of your browser. Your address field will have the full URL for you to study!

Check out my gallery of cool abused Amazon images!

Ethical Considerations

Abusing Amazon images for decorative art on your own web pages makes use of Amazon's processor and bandwidth. While Amazon is generally good about letting people use their systems for interesting projects, it should be remembered that they make access available in order to ultimately sell more stuff.

My recommendation for those who want to use Amazon's services without being a total leech is to be sure to include a link to the Amazon sales page for the product depicted. For example, all the images on this page are for It's Only a Game, a collection of a non-Peanuts newspaper comic by the creator of Peanuts.

If you're using various overlay images, particularly percentage bullets, include something like:

Warning: the discount percentages and other feature blurbs depicted on this page are being used in a purely decorative fashion. They don't represent any discount or feature actually being offered.

Content copyright 2005-2006 Nat Gertler