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Old 03-28-2013, 09:11 AM   #1
verydeepwater
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Creating and Previewing Mobi Files

I would like to ask about creating mobi files. My usual work flow is to create an epub file first, validate it it with epubcheck and then convert it with kindllegen to a mobi. If I proof this file on my Kindle 4, it usually looks fine, as it also does in Kindle Previewer on my pc, with 'Kindle Fire' selected as the default device.

If however, you set 'Kindle' as default device on Kindle Previewer, then some of the formatting goes, for example space above paragraphs, and the large font size on the title page. I assume this is because the Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire use KF8 which is more compatible with CSS formatting, and the 'Kindle' setting on Previewer shows how text would appear on an older device, such as Kindles 1, 2 or 3. I would like to ask if this is correct.

Some people say you need to create a mobi file from scratch rather than merely converting an epub file. Is this simply to take into account how text appears on the earlier kindles? If for example, you were only concerned with formatting for recent kindles with KF8, could you just convert epub files, and not worry about how things look on the Kindle Previewer with the Kindle device setting?

Perhaps you could take the view, that since most people now have a recent kindle model with KF8, there is no reason to format specifically for kindles, and you can get away with a simple conversion process. Any clarification or guidance on this would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by verydeepwater; 03-28-2013 at 09:13 AM. Reason: corrections
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:31 AM   #2
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The Kindle Previewer is broken in a number of different ways. For reasons that are unknown to me (and I've asked Kindle support and their answer was uninformative) the Kindle mode shows you the old mobi7 version of the file even though essentially all of the 800x600 eInk Kindles (including the Kindle 3) now display KF8. Amazon does not appear to be in a hurry to fix this. Their response was that you can use the Paperwhite mode to preview your file. This is suboptimal in my view because there are many differences between the Paperwhite and the other eInk KIndles.

Your process is a good one. You should probably take a look at the Kindle Publishing Guide's* section on the @media queries amzn-mobi and amzn-kf8. My preference is to create a generic EPUB 2.01 file. Then I add the Kindle specific stuff to it and send it through Kindlegen.

*Much of the information in the guide is wrong, incomplete, or misleading. The section about the @media queries is reliable.
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verydeepwater View Post
If however, you set 'Kindle' as default device on Kindle Previewer, then some of the formatting goes, for example space above paragraphs, and the large font size on the title page. I assume this is because the Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire use KF8 which is more compatible with CSS formatting, and the 'Kindle' setting on Previewer shows how text would appear on an older device, such as Kindles 1, 2 or 3. I would like to ask if this is correct.
That is correct.

Most people (most of the ones who make an effort to ensure things still look correct on devices that don't support the KF8 format) use special media queries (explained in the Kindle Publishing Guidelines) to instruct kindlegen (previewer) how to process portions of xhtml for the different formats (MOBI/KF8). Sometimes even going as far as to specify completely different xhtml/css for each format.

But mostly, unless you're doing some very tricky/delicate formatting, many people just find a natural balance (through trial & error & forum searching) of coding conventions that work equally well for epub, mobi and kf8. And if you require special formatting... then css media-queries to the rescue.

There's probably a lot of people who've decided to just not worry about folks with devices/apps that don't support KF8, but that seems ill-advised and premature to me. As long as people can purchase your work for a MOBI-only device/app, I believe you're obligated to give them the best experience possible. Something other than "oh, that's just going to be seen by people with old devices... how many of those are left out there?"

A lot of the Kindle apps for Apple devices don't support KF8.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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My preference is to create a generic EPUB 2.01 file. Then I add the Kindle specific stuff to it and send it through Kindlegen.

*Much of the information in the guide is wrong, incomplete, or misleading. The section about the @media queries is reliable.[/QUOTE]


Thanks very much for your helpful reply. Can I ask about creating a EPUB 2.01 file. At he moment, I define my html files like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"

To make a 2.01 file, do I just replace the 1.1 with 2.01 or is there something else I should know about?
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:48 PM   #5
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Don't change the doctype declaration at all.

The "1.1" in this case refers to the XHTML version, not the EPUB version.
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