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Old 08-04-2011, 02:16 PM   #1
Schlutek
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KindleGen vs calibre

I'm wondering if anyone else has come up against differences when converting epub files to mobi. I'm finding that converting using KindleGen gives me a completely different file from what I get with calibre. KindleGen images are appearing much bigger and the navigational TOC is disabled. Files converted with calibre seem to convert much more cleanly...

Anyone else got an e-headache from this?
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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ePubs converted with calibre come much closer to looking like the original epub I made than kindlegen seems to. But each day, I learn new ways to format my epubs so that kindlegen doesn't butcher it. Now, usually, I can make a couple of tweaks to the CSS in my source epub before I run it through kindlegen (if there isn't any crazy layouts involved) to produce the mobi. Anything so I don't have to maintain two completely separate projects for one book. I don't do a lot of graphic stuff--I'm basically only in it for the words--so I've found that the KISS method is crucial to my personal successes.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:04 PM   #3
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I do it the other way around: I create a Mobi book and then convert that to ePub. That seems much less error-prone.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:13 PM   #4
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In my experience, I've found these differences:
  • Kindlegen does not produce an in-line TOC. Calibre does. However, it is placed at the end of the document, which displeases some book designers.
  • Kindlegen includes the "source document" (e.g. the starting epub) in the mobi, thus doubling its size. There are scripts available on this site to strip the source from the mobi.
  • Calibre used to have a "bug" whereby Amazon's DRM could not be applied to the mobi. I think this has been fixed for some time now, though.
  • Under certain circumstances, a kindlegen epub -> mobi converted mobi will have two instances of the cover. One as the cover itself, and one as the first page of the document. I think Calibre avoids this.

Actually, for my own use I like the Calibre conversion somewhat better. But for commercial applications (Kindle store) I pretty much have to go with kindlegen starting with a "specially crafted" epub to get the results I want. Which is why I'm a little hazy on the details of Calibre conversions.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Actually, for my own use I like the Calibre conversion somewhat better. But for commercial applications (Kindle store) I pretty much have to go with kindlegen starting with a "specially crafted" epub to get the results I want. Which is why I'm a little hazy on the details of Calibre conversions.
I'm the same way. But if it's not strictly for personal use I've taken to:

1) Converting the epub to mobi with calibre
2) unpacking that mobi with mobiunpack.py
3) recreating the toc.ncx and tweaking the opf file by hand (I also have a few automated scripts of my own to help)
4) feeding the opf file to kindlegen

I get the look of the calibre conversion, but produced by kindlegen.
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schlutek View Post
... KindleGen images are appearing much bigger ...
Explicitly setting the WIDTH and HEIGHT values in the <IMG> tag will generally prevent this problem.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:36 AM   #7
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I need to avoid maintaining separate files for each book. Because I am converting files created for print in InDesign, exporting a ePub is my first step. I should also note, I am Mac user.

So, how to edit a mobi file...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post

1) Converting the epub to mobi with calibre
2) unpacking that mobi with mobiunpack.py
3) recreating the toc.ncx and tweaking the opf file by hand (I also have a few automated scripts of my own to help)
4) feeding the opf file to kindlegen
I am going to try mobiunpack now, but what tweaks are needed for the ncx and opf files? And does only the opf file go into kindlegen? Any other mobi-editing info I should know?
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
I am going to try mobiunpack now, but what tweaks are needed for the ncx and opf files? And does only the opf file go into kindlegen? Any other mobi-editing info I should know?
That's my personal workflow and it may not be suitable/feasible for anyone else, but basically I have to recreate the ncx file from scratch (from the data in the inline TOC that will be part of the html file that mobiunpack produces), and modify the opf to properly reference the new ncx file. I also add the "start" reference in the guide section of the opf (if it wasn't already there). This is where I have some personal scripts to do most of the heavy-lifting for me.

Quote:
And does only the opf file go into kindlegen?
The opf file is what you "feed" to kindlegen, but all of the files referenced in the opf file must be present and in the same relative location that the opf file indicates they are.

The best thing I can suggest is to take a completed (and satisfactory) epub file and convert it to mobi with kindlegen. Then take the same epub and convert it to mobi with calibre. Using mobiunpack.py, unpack both mobi's and compare them to see what epub source produces what mobi code with each converter. It's all trial and error, but it's really the only way to learn.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:42 PM   #9
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Thanks DiapDealer. I appreciate your help.

I'm realizing how naive i was to assume that once a epub is buttoned up, converting to a mobi would be the easy part. How wrong I am
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:07 PM   #10
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I do it the other way around: I create a Mobi book and then convert that to ePub. That seems much less error-prone.
That's just doing things backwards.
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:39 PM   #11
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No, it's not. Because Mobi is a simpler format than ePub, you can be a lot more certain that a Mobi file will convert cleanly to ePub than vice versa, and for the type of books I create, the capabilities of Mobi are sufficient for my needs.
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Schlutek View Post
Thanks DiapDealer. I appreciate your help.

I'm realizing how naive i was to assume that once a epub is buttoned up, converting to a mobi would be the easy part. How wrong I am
I also make ePubs from InDesign. Apart from some issues with tables they have converted OK in Calibre. I've had to rewrite tables as text when there are too many columns. They also have heaps of pictures.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:35 PM   #13
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Yes, I am very happy with my calibre converted files. And luckily, I haven't had to deal with tables in my files. My hangnail is with the many images within my files. But I do think CS5.5 will heal many concerns nicely
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:03 AM   #14
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Cripes. I have just done my first conversion from epub to mobi (using kindlegen, reading in Kindle app on iPad) and the results are somewhat alarming:

The front cover image is repeated on the second page
There is no navigational TOC
Justified text doesn't hyphenate
Headings (aligned left in CSS) do hyphenate
CSS working properly? Does Kindle treat H1, H2 etc in a default fashion? Or does it use the CSS? If the former, am I best to style all headings with P tags in order for Kindle to use my CSS?

Lastly, and very worryingly, when I use the internal TOC (the toc on a page within the text) to navigate, the headings I've used as hyperlink destinations display incorrectly.

i.e.: If I view the 'Chapter 1' heading by scrolling through the book, the heading style appears almost as I have designed it (perhaps a little larger than it does in the epub).

BUT, if I use the TOC text links to navigate to that destination, the heading style applied to 'Chapter 1' has changed! It now appears much smaller than the CSS specifies.

I haven't edited MOBI at all as yet. I was hoping Kindlegen would be a one step process but this looks like another learning curve. Are Amazon's auto conversions as unpredictable as all of this?

Last edited by virtual_ink; 08-29-2011 at 06:10 AM. Reason: for clarity, i hope
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:29 AM   #15
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I guess I am odd, I create the book in notetab, the opf and the ncx then use kindlegen to create the mobi. making a epub then converting it to mobi seems an added step.
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