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Old 02-18-2011, 06:52 PM   #1
foghat
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Chapter markers: why oh why do so many books not have them?

Buy a book from amazon and download to kindle. No chapter markers. Run that same book through Calibre (convert to mobi), load onto kindle and voila, chapter markers.

why? why do I have to run through the conversion process with calibre to get chapter markers? The required info is obviously in the file to begin with.

This was never a big concern to me. But now that 3.1 has page numbers, I'd rather not run it through calibre as the page numbers get lost.

So basically, I have to make a decision between chapter markers or page numbers. bah.
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Old 02-18-2011, 07:11 PM   #2
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I suspect it's because the tools used to make the mobi file stink, compared to Calibre. (But I'm not sure Amazon accepts calibre produced files, so people have to use the official tools, which are harder to use).
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Old 02-18-2011, 08:03 PM   #3
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I figure it's because: 1) ebooks don't have to go through as many channels to get published and so are not proofread closely enough.; 2) people are incompetent; or 3) both.

Let me run this example by you...
My wife bought an ebook called "The Negotiator" by Dee Henderson, published by Tyndale House Publishers. She already has physical copy.

In the physical copy, the first line in the prologue says:

Dynamite.
Where had he put the dynamite?

In the ebook, it says:

Dynamite. had he put the dynamite?


Needless to say, I broke the DRM on this book so that I could fix it.

Is this an ebook creation tool problem? No. My bet is that people just aren't checking their work to make sure their ebooks have chapter markers.
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:38 PM   #4
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Calibre uses some pattern matching to detect chapters. Whenever I convert something just for my own use, I make sure the file is marked up properly so calibre will detect the chapters. You'd think the publishers who make money SELLING books would care enough to use proper tools and do the same, but you'd be wrong.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:46 PM   #5
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Lazy publishers not checking the conversion.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:49 PM   #6
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^ Ya, unfortunately I imagine you are right.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:31 AM   #7
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So, looks like the latest version of Calibre adds pages. So ya! While the page numbers may not be the same as the Amazon page numbers I don't care. And plus calibre will give all your books page numbers!
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by foghat View Post
So, looks like the latest version of Calibre adds pages. So ya! While the page numbers may not be the same as the Amazon page numbers I don't care. And plus calibre will give all your books page numbers!
But thankfully, you can turn off that option. I don't want them. While I can see some occasional value in matching pages to an existing paper edition, artificial page numbers just don't add any value for me.

But it's nice that people that do want them can have 'em.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:39 AM   #9
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While I can see some occasional value in matching pages to an existing paper edition, artificial page numbers just don't add any value for me.

But it's nice that people that do want them can have 'em.
What, you can't see the advantage of having smaller arbitrary reference numbers rather than larger arbitrary reference numbers?

Join the club! But like you said, as long as I can turn the option off... I'm cool with it.
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:20 PM   #10
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I could care less about page numbers also. But I gotta have my chapter markers!
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:34 PM   #11
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I could care less about page numbers also. But I gotta have my chapter markers!
I would appreciate having page numbers for k2, but I can't abide not having chapter markers.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:23 AM   #12
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Needless to say, I broke the DRM on this book so that I could fix it.

Is this an ebook creation tool problem? No. My bet is that people just aren't checking their work to make sure their ebooks have chapter markers.
Just out of curiosity, what did you use to make the fixes?

Whenever I fix something, it's always with Calibre and Sigil (and then Calibre back to mobi).

Trying to fix something with Mobipocket Creator (the official tools) is a nightmare
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:58 AM   #13
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Is this an ebook creation tool problem? No.
I'd agree that the missing word(s) example probably isn't a problem with the ebook creation tool, but rather one of poor or non-existent checking. Lack of chapter markers, though, is, in most cases, most likely down to the tool and the method used to create the ebook.

The presence of chapter markers in a Kindle ebook relies on the inclusion of an NCX file in the compilation of the ebook. However none of the three main tools used to create MOBI ebooks - Mobipocket Creator, Kindlegen, and Amazon's self-publishing KDP interface - provides for the automated creation of an NCX file.

With Mobipocket Creator, you have to create the NCX file separately, do an initial build without it, then manually add it to the content files and manually edit the OPF file to add pointers to it, before doing a final build of the MOBI file.

With Kindlegen, you have to have created an OPF and NCX file prior to building the book.

And then you have Amazon's KDP web interface, where authors and small publishers can upload books in a variety of formats (such as HTML and MS Word) and have them converted by Amazon's processor into MOBI format for publishing in the Kindle bookstore - that processor doesn't include any facility for creating or even including an NCX file.

So... while I'd agree that larger publishers should really be doing a much better job, I'd also have to say that Amazon hasn't really done much, so far, to provide tools that would help smaller, less technically minded publishers or indie authors create full-featured, technically complete Kindle ebooks.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:04 AM   #14
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Ignorance is no excuse.

If you hand in a paper at school that is not properly formatted, you're still getting marks taken off, even if you tell the teacher that you didn't know how to use the software properly.

And chapter markers are a really easy thing to check and make sure they work. Kindle Previewer (provided by Amazon to help authors/publishers) makes it quite obvious when they don't work right.


...also it would be one thing if these were minor publications or or some such, but these people are being paid real money. They're real, big time authors and publishers.

I mean, really. I bought the Lord of the Rings 25th anniversary ebook, and since the NCX was in multi-level format it meant that this ebook didn't know to obviously navigate to more than just the starting locations of the 3 novels in the trilogy. You might tell me that the markers for the chapters are there and only hidden, but I'm not sure that they were working right at all. All I know is, converting with calibre fixed the problem.


For a second example, I bought Star Trek: New Frontier, which includes the first 4 books in the New Frontier series. The author, Peter David, has written quite a number of books and is one of my favorite authors. The publisher for this book is Pocket Books, which is a rather large publishing company.

This ebook not only had a multi-level NCX-- which I can personally confirm (due to how long it took me to figure out how to fix) that the hidden chapter markers only went to the 2nd tier of locations and not the 3rd, which is where at least half of them are-- but also there was no Table of Contents at all. No Table of Contents. Calibre had to create one, and could only do so properly after I converted to ePub, used Sigil's TOC Editor and converted back.

These are not indie publishers or little-known authors. There's no reason for these things to happen.


Ignorance is no excuse. Laziness is no excuse. These people are professionals, being paid by (tens/hundreds of) thousands of people who want to read their work. They should do a better job.

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Old 02-20-2011, 08:28 AM   #15
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Ignorance is no excuse.

If you hand in a paper at school that is not properly formatted, you're still getting marks taken off, even if you tell the teacher that you didn't know how to use the software properly.
And if you used the software properly but it did it wrong? You do see things in a very black and white view.

Given how much ire is focused on Amazon for things that aren't in its control, it's kind of ironic that, on this issue, where Amazon could rightly be blamed for not making its self-publishing interface sufficiently functional as to create "fully furnished" ebooks, the reader's ire is directed at non-technically minded authors who trust in that tool to do the job properly.
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