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Old 08-27-2010, 12:43 PM   #1
ldespain
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Best Practices for TOC in Mobi

Hi - one of my books just got a 3 star review on Amazon because the user said they didn't see any table of contents pages. Not cool - this is a solid 5 star book! : )

My usual practice when converting from PDF is to delete all the table of contents pages because they don't "go" anywhere - I rebuild the structure in Sigil in the TOC area, and then the reader can go to "table of contents" on their Kindle to see it all. Nice & interactive. However, when you download a preview of the book, the table of contents is not accessible because you don't have access to the entire book.

When I first started doing conversions, I had created all the links in the PDF and then exported to HTML, so I could keep a table of contents page & link out to chapters. I stopped doing this because it was tricky to get the right links and it was just another kink in the validation process. Just simpler to go without.

My question is (finally!): should I keep the table of contents in there just so people can see it on the preview? Links or no links? What's the best practice on this?

Thanks!
Lisa
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Old 08-28-2010, 03:28 PM   #2
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Lisa, do you upload an epub file to Kindle DTP? I've heard it's possible; I've never heard from anyone who's actually done it.

I build my own TOC using normal html code.
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:18 AM   #3
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hi lisa,

whilst i don't think your 3-star reviewer was fair in grading your book based on whether it has a TOC or not, i have to admit i like to see the TOC there even if i don't use it much.
i think it helps me get a feel for the book once i open it. first is the cover, then the TOC (is it a 20 chapter book? a 70? etc) maybe even if it's just a preview...

and then keep in mind that reviews are subjective
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldpilot View Post
Lisa, do you upload an epub file to Kindle DTP? I've heard it's possible; I've never heard from anyone who's actually done it.

I build my own TOC using normal html code.
I don't - I convert from epub to mobi. I tried to upload an epub a while back but it didn't work.
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Old 08-30-2010, 06:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenaciousBadger View Post
hi lisa,

whilst i don't think your 3-star reviewer was fair in grading your book based on whether it has a TOC or not, i have to admit i like to see the TOC there even if i don't use it much.
i think it helps me get a feel for the book once i open it. first is the cover, then the TOC (is it a 20 chapter book? a 70? etc) maybe even if it's just a preview...

and then keep in mind that reviews are subjective
Yeah, it kind of hurt my feelings after all the work I put into it! : )
Thanks for your reply, this helps. I guess I am back to linking...I can't see leaving a section in for TOC and then not linking out to the chapters. Trying to minimize reader frustration...
Thanks!
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldespain View Post
Yeah, it kind of hurt my feelings after all the work I put into it! : )
Thanks for your reply, this helps. I guess I am back to linking...I can't see leaving a section in for TOC and then not linking out to the chapters. Trying to minimize reader frustration...
Thanks!
i don't think there's any point in linking chapters for previews, since obviously it's only an excerpt and as you said the links don't go anywhere, but maybe the nr. or chapters should be listed somewhere...

good luck with everything!
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldespain View Post
Hi - one of my books just got a 3 star review on Amazon because the user said they didn't see any table of contents pages. Not cool - this is a solid 5 star book! : )

My usual practice when converting from PDF is to delete all the table of contents pages because they don't "go" anywhere - I rebuild the structure in Sigil in the TOC area, and then the reader can go to "table of contents" on their Kindle to see it all. Nice & interactive. However, when you download a preview of the book, the table of contents is not accessible because you don't have access to the entire book.

When I first started doing conversions, I had created all the links in the PDF and then exported to HTML, so I could keep a table of contents page & link out to chapters. I stopped doing this because it was tricky to get the right links and it was just another kink in the validation process. Just simpler to go without.

My question is (finally!): should I keep the table of contents in there just so people can see it on the preview? Links or no links? What's the best practice on this?

Thanks!
Lisa
Yeah, that certainly blows. First, I'd respond to the review (you can comment on reviews) and correct the author, and advise that there is an interactive TOC in the complete book, but that excerpts for all Amazon books exclude the TOC. Second, if memory serves, there used to be a place on Amazon where you could indicate if a book had an active TOC, but I don't remember where--it might be auto-generated, these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldpilot
Lisa, do you upload an epub file to Kindle DTP? I've heard it's possible; I've never heard from anyone who's actually done it.
I convert epubs to .mobi via KindleGen, which is a command-line version of the Amazon DTP.

HTH,

Hitch

Last edited by Hitch; 08-31-2010 at 04:56 AM. Reason: Fix the unattributed quote
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:54 PM   #8
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Hey Hitch,

I've done the conversion to mobi from epub with kindlegen but lost the toc, it shows up under the ncx on kindle previewer, this normal? sigil edited and tweaked the epub but used my toc from ID because it held the styles i wanted
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:20 PM   #9
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eBookNoir: I've had the same problem. I'm in communication with AMZ about it; as to why my carefully hand-crafted epubs lose the TOC when I drop them onto KindleGen. I don't have an answer yet. I have a work-around, but it's a PITA.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:06 PM   #10
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You have to enter both HTML TOCs and NCX in a particular standard way in the OPF for KindleGen. It's somewhere in the Amazon Publishing Guidelines PDF.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATDrake View Post
You have to enter both HTML TOCs and NCX in a particular standard way in the OPF for KindleGen. It's somewhere in the Amazon Publishing Guidelines PDF.
Hmmm...thanks! I'm not sure it quite saves me a step, to rip my epubs apart and fiddle with the TOC's and NCX, but I'll look into it. If you have the pdf...could you point a link at it? Thanx.


EDIT: nevermind, I have it--the differences are minute and frankly STUPID. You could edit your ncx file and the opf to make the epub work on KindleGen, but it would take more time than the dance o'conversion via Calibre. I just don't like not having that nth-degree of control over the resulting output. For example: epub's reference the toc as "ncx," with a pointer to "toc.ncx." Not Kindle; it has to have it specfied as "item id="toc" even with a pointer to the selfsame toc.ncx.

There are also classes used by Amazon in the ncx for each "type" of item, i.e., "titlepage" "book" "chapter," rather than the plain language of the ncx generated by a Sigil epub. You could convert it easily enough, I would imagine, with a few bits of coding...I might do some NoteTab clips for that if I get bored enough on my trip. What I do NOT know is whether that would screw up Epub 1.05-validation. Hmmm.

Hitch

Last edited by Hitch; 09-25-2010 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Add question about location of pdf.
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Old 09-25-2010, 08:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
For example: epub's reference the toc as "ncx," with a pointer to "toc.ncx." Not Kindle; it has to have it specfied as "item id="toc" even with a pointer to the selfsame toc.ncx.
Actually, you can skip a lot of that stuff. I do it all the time when I tidy up my Fictionwise purchases to have a TOC, chapter marks, and page breaks when I convert them to Mobi. Mind you, I'm not submitting stuff to Amazon's DTP, which for all I know may have actual rules about it.

But for the NCX, all it matters is that its <item id=""> matches whatever you use for the <spine toc="">. I call them both "ncx" for ease of distinguishing them from the HTML table of contents, which I just call "toc".

Also, if you have the slightest structural error in your NCX, like say, an orphaned closing tag, KindleGen will merrily build the rest of the book but ignore your NCX and not even warn you despite having the -verbose option turned on.

But aside from that, you can completely skip the various classes they use in the Guidelines example. I never bother, and it still "reads" my 2nd-level NCX entries just fine, for typical Kindle display values of "doesn't display extra nav marks below the first level in the location bar and makes you skip from invisible point to invisible point" fine.

And for attaching an HTML TOC, all you really need is to have it listed in both <manifest> and <spine> as whatever you like, and entered into the <guide> using the exact same terminology that Amazon uses in their Guidelines example.
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