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Old 03-08-2011, 12:24 PM   #1
vermontcathy
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Question Kindle book formatting questions - text-to-speech, line spacing

Hello everyone. I'm working on formatting a book for kindle. I'm going from Word to Mobipocket Creator, which is working very well with a few exceptions. My first question has to to with an image at the beginning of the first chapter. Within the image are the words "Chapter One" and the title of the first chapter. Then below the image, the text starts. It looks good. But if I use the text-to-speech, of course it doesn't know what words are in the image. So visually impaired people would miss out on those words.

I read on one blog that if you put alt text in the image tag in the HTML, then the text-to-speech will read it out loud. I do know HTML, so I deleted the prc file that mobipocket creator made, edited the HTML file and told it to rebuild the prc file. No luck. Then I started a new project in mobipocket creator starting with the HTML file that mobipocket creator had earlier made (rather than starting from the Word file) and still no luck. Any ideas?

My second question has to do with line spacing. The first letter of the first line of text in the chapter is larger. You can't do drop caps on kindle, but you can do what I call "up cap" - making the first letter larger. This works well except that there is a larger space between the 1st and 2nd lines than between the 2nd and 3rd lines because of that letter being bigger. In Word, I specified the between-line spacing for the paragraphs as an absolute, rather than based on text size (18 pts rather than 1.5 lines). So in Word it looks good - the space between the 1st & 2nd lines the same as between the 2nd and 3rd lines, but this doesn't seem to carry over to the prc file. There might be no way to fix this, but I thought I'd ask.

Thanks!
Cathy
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:01 PM   #2
DMSmillie
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Hi Cathy - the info about ALT text was accurate, but unfortunately, as you've discovered, the Kindle text-to-speech engine doesn't yet pay any attention to ALT text. I don't know of any workaround for this, I'm afraid. If text is presented in an image, rather than as actual text, it simply won't be read out on a Kindle. Hopefully this is something that Amazon will address in a near future update of the Kindle TTS software.

I'm intrigued that you get a larger space between first and second lines when you use an "up cap" - I've used them myself, and not seen any difference in line spacing. However I don't think there's anything you can do in your Word formatting that would carry through into the prc file that would influence line spacing. In the HTML code, that is controlled by CSS, and the MOBI format doesn't include any native support for CSS - just fairly basic HTML plus a few proprietary HTML tags. Programs like Mobipocket Creator which convert HTML into a MOBI format file simply convert any CSS into the nearest HTML equivalent, or discard it.

Heh... sorry to be so negative, but I'm afraid you picked two things which, currently, MOBI format and/or the Kindle simply can't do.
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Old 03-11-2011, 03:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMSmillie View Post

Heh... sorry to be so negative, but I'm afraid you picked two things which, currently, MOBI format and/or the Kindle simply can't do.
Interesting, Donna. Two more cases where mobi just doesn't cut it. The other I know of is not supporting embedded fonts. And yet - or perhaps just therefore - Amazon opted for it: no fancy stuff, just plain text.

Rather reminds one - if one is old enough to remember - of the clash between Betamax and VCR as competing video tape standards. Betamax was generally regarded as technically superior but VCR won the day, thanks to Sony opting for it. And Amazon is apparently the Sony of today. Somewhat ironic.
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