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Old 01-15-2013, 08:17 PM   #1
rstoothoff
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Kindle va Calibre vs Kindlegen

Recently an e-book converted with Calibre from .epub to .mobi (both old and new), which looks good on both the Kindle Previewer and Kindle devices, has been rejected by Amazon, who say it must be generated through Kindlegen. I've tried using Kindlegen, both with the InDesign plug-in and with Kindle Previewer, but got an imperfect .mobi (one lacking the all-important Kindle TOC), whereas Calibre seems to deliver the goods. What's wrong?
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #2
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Are you asking why Amazon doesn't want you to use anything other than Kindlegen, or are you asking (in the calibre forum) why your Kindlegen-built mobi doesn't have a toc?
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:47 AM   #3
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I'm asking both questions, but in particular why the Calibre-generated .mobi/Kindle file is unacceptable. How does it differ from a Kindlegen-generated file? it looks good in the Kindle app and Kindle Previewer, in fact better than the Kindlegen-generated files.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
I'm asking both questions, but in particular why the Calibre-generated .mobi/Kindle file is unacceptable. How does it differ from a Kindlegen-generated file? it looks good in the Kindle app and Kindle Previewer, in fact better than the Kindlegen-generated files.
The point is that neither question is a calibre forum question.

The reason Amazon is not accepting calibre generated ebooks is a question only Amazon can answer. It is their prerogative to handle their business the way they see fit. Anything we say is speculation.

Your question about kindlegen and why the output isn't to your liking should be asked in another forum, perhaps if the question was asked in the Kindle, Workshop or Mobi forums it would be both on-topic and have the expertise reading those forums to answer your question.

Obviously for personal use calibre is still #1.

Good Reading.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice, but I think the question IS appropriate for a Calibre forum. I had assumed that Calibre was designed to be used to convert from .epub to .mobi not only for "personal use" but also for submission to KDP. If so, then obviously the question is a Calibre forum question.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
Recently an e-book converted with Calibre from .epub to .mobi (both old and new), which looks good on both the Kindle Previewer and Kindle devices, has been rejected by Amazon, who say it must be generated through Kindlegen. I've tried using Kindlegen, both with the InDesign plug-in and with Kindle Previewer, but got an imperfect .mobi (one lacking the all-important Kindle TOC), whereas Calibre seems to deliver the goods. What's wrong?
Does the rejection/error message give any other details? I've recently (within the past 10 days) uploaded a Calibre-generated .mobi file to KDP without any problems.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:53 PM   #7
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The message from KDP says only
"I noticed that you have generated the mobi file using Calibre, and this is creating the problem. Please upload a mobi file generated using Kindlegen, and republish the title. It should then be available for sale."
No explanation of "the problem". When originally submitted, there as apparently no problem, for the book was made available for sale on the KDP website. I'll ask KDP for clarification.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:36 AM   #8
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That sounds like there's a problem with the .mobi file, and they're telling you to use Kindlegen because they don't want to (or can't) provide support for anything else.

Have you tried using Calibre to generate an ePub instead of a .mobi file, and uploading that?
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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I didn't know you could upload an .epub to KDP - and, presumably, let them convert it to .mobi. That sounds good.

I've created three .mobi files of the book: (1) by exporting to .epub from InDesign, then converting to .mobi (both) in Calibre; (2) by feeding the .epub into Kindle Previewer and letting Kindlegen create the .mobi; and (3) by exporting to Kindle using the ID Export to Kindle plug-in. The first looks fine in the Kindle Previewer and Kindle app: fonts are embedded (for Kindle Fire) and it has a nice-looking TOC. The second looks OK too, but lacks a TOC. And the third looks awful: no embedded fonts in Kindle Fire (not even Arial!) and a terrible-looking TOC.

I've received a less-than-helpful reply from KDP:
"When you upload the MOBI file generated using Calibre, we cannot guarantee that it'll successfully go through the conversion and publishing processes. Some files might not have any problem going through the conversion and publishing processes, but we cannot guarantee all the files will be successful. For this reason we request you to upload a MOBI file generated using Kindlegen, and republish the title."

If KDP has a problem with some Calibre-generated .mobi files, but not others, then I should think this is a issue which the developers of Calibre ought to address.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
I had assumed that Calibre was designed to be used to convert from .epub to .mobi not only for "personal use" but also for submission to KDP.
Conversion is for personal use. People can use the output for comercial purposes, there is nothing that prevents this. Many people do upload to services like KDP but that isn't the purpose of any conversion output. It has been and still is designed about reading books you own on devices you own.

One big reason for this stance (especially with a format like MOBI) is it's impossible to produce a 100% compliant file when dealing with a proprietary format. All information about MOBI has been reverse engineered and there is no way to know if something is missed. There is also the issue that Amazon can had has changed the format for no apparent reason other than to break tools like calibre.

Ultimately Amazon owns the publishing service, the format, the production tools, and the devices/software that reads the format. They control every aspect of the process and can require any arbitrary rules they want.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
If KDP has a problem with some Calibre-generated .mobi files, but not others, then I should think this is a issue which the developers of Calibre ought to address.
MOBI is a format that is owned by Amazon. They're the only ones with information about how the format works and how to produce proper files. They don't share this information. As you've found they also don't share why they reject some MOBI files produced by calibre.

The only reason calibre can produce MOBI (and Amazon's other formats) files is due to reverse engineering. Only so much can be done by this method. Something will pretty much always be missed. It's even harder when no only is there is a closed service and review process involved.

Not to mention that Amazon has intentionally made changes to their software explicitly to break third party tools. They've done this multiple times and this is why I personally no longer do anything with Amazon formats or devices within calibre. If Amazon doesn't want calibre to work with them then I'm not going to waste time in a battle I'll never win. That said there are other calibre devs who still work on Amazon things. If you can get some reason about why KDP doesn't like I'm sure they will quickly make whatever changes are necessary to satisfy KDP.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:02 AM   #12
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I'm grateful to user_none for that explanation. I hadn't realized that Calibre is not intended for "commercial" use. Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and other Big Players are sometimes very annoying.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
I didn't know you could upload an .epub to KDP - and, presumably, let them convert it to .mobi. That sounds good.
From the KDP help pages:

Quote:
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) lets you upload and convert your final draft from several formats. For best results, we recommend that you upload in DOC/DOCX (.doc/.docx) or HTML (.html) format. Be sure to read through the tips below for your preferred format prior to publishing your work with KDP.

We accept the following formats:

Word (DOC or DOCX)
HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML)
Mobipocket (MOBI)
ePub (EPUB)
Plain Text (TXT)
Rich Text Format (RTF)
Adobe PDF (PDF)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rstoothoff View Post
I've created three .mobi files of the book: (1) by exporting to .epub from InDesign, then converting to .mobi (both) in Calibre; (2) by feeding the .epub into Kindle Previewer and letting Kindlegen create the .mobi; and (3) by exporting to Kindle using the ID Export to Kindle plug-in. The first looks fine in the Kindle Previewer and Kindle app: fonts are embedded (for Kindle Fire) and it has a nice-looking TOC. The second looks OK too, but lacks a TOC. And the third looks awful: no embedded fonts in Kindle Fire (not even Arial!) and a terrible-looking TOC.
I converted to Mobi (old) in Calibre. I have no interest in embedding fonts, which may be what has caused your file to fail. A note of caution on embedding fonts, however. From this old thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Very limited. Most commercial fonts come licensed for a certain number of computers and/or printers, and forbid embedding in ebooks.

Font foundaries are excessively worried about people copying their fonts. I did ask Monotype about the cost for a distribution licence for fonts embedded in an ePub, and the cost was £1500 for up to five fonts, in up to five books, per year.

For chapter headings and other display type, I expect it's possible to find a free font that allows redistribution without too much difficulty. But finding the body text font that you want in a redistributable form is very hard.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:31 AM   #14
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Thanks, Russell.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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Amazon probably looks at the "author" EXTH field and seeing "calibre" (or something other than what KindleGen puts in that field) rejects it. The solution is to stuff whatever Amazon wants to see into the author EXTH.
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