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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Why are Kindle eBooks so hard to design?

I know; I’m whining. I can design a great-looking ePUB eBook, and if the makers of the e-readers on the market would catch up to the specs, they’d look even better. I can design a great-looking .LIT eBook. That’s probably the most versatile eBook design format in the market. Too bad Microsoft left it hanging. Of course, I can design a superb-looking PDF eBook. After all, I design for print and the PDF is a by-product. Add in a few of the things you can do electronically that are too expensive to do in print and you get a phenomenal looking eBook that you can only read on your desktop. (Check out this free Steven George & The Dragon short-story as an example of what can be done in PDF that is not for print. It’s called “What the Sergeant Didn’t See.”)

So why do all my Kindle eBooks look like crap?

The Kindle guidelines start out by saying to upload your ePUB, but then it proceeds to strip everything of value (style sheets, formatting, margins) out of the file and give you a preview that has no page breaks and runs type from edge-to-edge and top to bottom.

So, if I understand the suggested process correctly (See Simplified Formatting Guide), I should export my entire document back out of InDesign to antique Microsoft Word (.doc, not .docx), redo all the formatting so that Word can add it’s 1200 lines of style sheet info, save it as a filtered .HTML file, download MobiPocket Creator (another “gem” of a program that will only take a single file), and then preview in the Kindle Previewer to see if the magic sauce turned out savory, sweet, or sour.

Really. Kindle, get with it and adopt the industry standard ePUB format so publishers can produce books that don’t cost more than making paper.


It's all my fault

Apparently my "problems" with making Kindle eBooks have been based on my trust of the on-screen Kindle preview. After you upload an eBook, Amazon goes through a process of "converting" it. Once that is done, you are asked to "Preview your book to make sure your converted file looks good in Kindle format by clicking Preview Book." Well it doesn't. Everything I've uploaded and previewed in any format with any settings looks like crap. Somehow, however, we are simply supposed to know that is not what it will look like on the Kindle Reader. In fact, I just went to the site and bought one of my own books so that I could actually load it on the PC Kindle reader. It looked great. Almost as good as the ePUB looks in Digital Editions. (Kindle apparently can't wrap graphics.)

So if I simply didn't believe them in the first place and just uploaded the book (as I did with the previous book, everything would be okay. If I could simply preview my converted file in the actual Kindle reader, I wouldn't have this problem.