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.