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Old 06-14-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
bfollowell
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Homemade/converted ebooks not starting at "first" page?

What controls the first page that appears when you open an ebook in an ereader; the starting position, specifically on a Kindle 3?

I create/convert my ebooks using Sigil and do a final conversion to mobi using Calibre for use on my Kindle 3. Until fairly recently, the first page/section displayed would be the first html file after the cover. However, my ebooks have started opening at some other page, two or three pages further on than I want. It seems to correspond with the first heading/first nav point in the ebook. I haven't changed my normal procedure and I'm not aware of any flags or switches to tell which page is the initial or first page. Several people told me to try and define the page as text or preface using semantics in Sigil but those don't seem to make any difference at all in relation to which page displays when I first open an ebook or select Go To, Beginning from the menu.

Earlier today I was trying to narrow the problem down a little further and I decided to go and try some of my older mobis that I know used to open right where I wanted them to. I figured I might be able to narrow the problem down to when I switched to a certain new version of Sigil or Calibre and that might help me clear things up. Guess what? All of my old files that used to work just the way I wanted them to now do the same thing as my newer ones. They open to the heading/first nav point in the ebook. It's really starting to look to me like my Kindle is the issue and not Sigil or Calibre. It seems as if something changed on a recent firmware update that is causing this but I have no idea what or how to correct it.

Is anyone aware of something I could do to insure where an ebook starts the first time it's opened? Is there anyway to define the beginning or starting point of an ebook?

The whole problem is very strange and any help or insight anyone might be able to provide would be most appreciated.

Thanks.

- Byron
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:31 AM   #2
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Mobipocket format defines specific 'guide items' that you put into the .opf file, one for 'toc' and one for 'start'. See:

http://www.mobipocket.com/dev/articl...=opfguides.htm

calibre will generate the 'toc' guide item if you have it generate TOC, I'm not sure what it does for 'start', but you might ask on the calibre forums here. You could also try using kindlegen to convert the epub after adding the guide items - seems like that should work.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomsem View Post
Mobipocket format defines specific 'guide items' that you put into the .opf file, one for 'toc' and one for 'start'. See:

http://www.mobipocket.com/dev/articl...=opfguides.htm

calibre will generate the 'toc' guide item if you have it generate TOC, I'm not sure what it does for 'start', but you might ask on the calibre forums here. You could also try using kindlegen to convert the epub after adding the guide items - seems like that should work.
Thanks for the info. I may try but I've had very little luck when attempting to use kindlegen. The results I get always seem to be pretty poor.

Also, the start guide item forces the ebook to open at whatever page you set in the href every single time the ebook opens. That's not what I want. I only want it to open there the first time the ebook is opened or whenever you select Go To, Beginning. All other times the ebook is opened, I want it to go to the last page read.

I may play with it though.

- Byron

Last edited by bfollowell; 06-15-2011 at 02:45 AM.
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfollowell
Also, the start guide item forces the ebook to open at whatever page you set in the href every single time the ebook opens. That's not what I want. I only want it to open there the first time the ebook is opened or whenever you select Go To, Beginning. All other times the ebook is opened, I want it to go to the last page read.
But that's exactly what the "start" guide item is for. To my knowledge, there is no way to override the Kindle's default behavior of opening to the last page read. You can only affect how it opens the very first time with the "start" guide item in the source OPF (which will in turn determine where you go when using 'Menu->Go to')
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfollowell View Post
Also, the start guide item forces the ebook to open at whatever page you set in the href every single time the ebook opens. That's not what I want. I only want it to open there the first time the ebook is opened or whenever you select Go To, Beginning. All other times the ebook is opened, I want it to go to the last page read.
Er, this is exactly the way it DOES work. The "start" guide item is ONLY used the first time you open the book.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:38 PM   #6
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OK, I guess I misunderstood then. In the link that was provided, in the mobi documentation, it made it sound like it would open to the start page every single time you reopen an ebook.

"start: if the "start" type of subitem is present, the action defined in the onclick is performed whenever the ebook is opened. Use this in dictionaries to make the dictionary open on the first page every time instead of the last page read. The last page read is not very useful in a dictionary."

This doesn't sound to me like it only controls how it opens the time. Still, if you guys say that's how it works, I'll give it a try and let you know how it works. It's strange though that I never had to do that before and now I do.

Thanks for the help guys.

- Byron
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:55 PM   #7
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I just tried it and it works perfectly. Thanks guys.

Now another question. Are you aware of any way to set the "start" page other than doing it manually? I basically just changed the epub to a zip file, pulled out the opf file, added the start reference manually then added it back into the epub. In Sigil, there is no semantic that I can see for setting a start page. Of course, technically, this is an epub editor and it may not be as big a deal for epubs but the combination of Sigil and Calibre seems to be the way many ebook fans are going these days so I figured it might be there. I've had no luck finding it though.

I guess I could try Kindlegen to convert my epub if there's a way to set the start page in it. I've just not had a lot of luck using Kindlegen where Calibre works like a charm. That may be more me than Kindlegen though.

Thanks again guys.

- Byron
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:18 PM   #8
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I've found that if I set the "Text" semantic on one of the xhtml files, that Kindlegen will correctly translate that into mobi's "StartReading" value (EXTH type 116) upon conversion. I don't remember if that's enough for calibre to set the correct StartReading value when it converts ePub to mobi. But, I'm in the habit of using calibre's ePub Tweak utility to make sure the "start" item is in the reference section of the OPF. It's a bit of a PITA, but quick and easy once you get into the practice—and it will save you from having to rename your ePub to a zipfile and back and whatnot.

EDIT: Strike that about the "Text" semantic. It may work but I can't swear to it. I use a convoluted process that starts with Sigil... then uses calibre, mobiunpack.py, some manual tweaking, and finally wraps things up with Kindlegen. It works for me, but I can't swear that there's an easy semantic to set in Sigil that will cause calibre or Kindlegen to correctly set the StartReading value (without diddling it manually).

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Old 06-15-2011, 03:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
But, I'm in the habit of using calibre's ePub Tweak utility to make sure the "start" item is in the reference section of the OPF.
?

Where is this "tweak" utility you speak of? It sounds like I've been missing something that maybe I should be using.

It seems like someone else mentioned the "text" semantic and it didn't seem to make any difference for me. I'll give 'er another try though.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 06-15-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Where is this "tweak" utility you speak of? It sounds like I've been missing something that maybe I should be using.
Right click (Windows anyway) on a book (that has an ePub version) in your calibre library and select "Tweak ePub" from the context menu. Then choose "Explode ePub" (on the resulting dialog) which will extract the ePub into a temp directory and allow you to edit the files therein. Once done editing, you can A) Preview the ePub and/or B) Rebuild the ePub. You can also Cancel changes at any time before you "Rebuild the ePub."

Hope something there helps.

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Old 06-20-2012, 12:55 AM   #11
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In Sigil select the page you want as the first page (other than the cover) , right click and choose the Semantic>Text.

You can also open the content.opf file, scroll to the bottom and add this to the <guide> section:

<reference href="Text/title.xhtml" title="Start" type="text" />

change title.xhtml to the page you want

Also, you do not need to convert using Calibre.

Amazon allows epub uploads for your book to the KDP (they will convert is using KindleGen automatically). However, if you want to upload the MOBI file, then use Kindle Previewer to convert your epub.

Open Kindle Previewer and drag your epub file over the open window. This will create a mobi file for you (using KindleGen).

NOTE: you will get an error in the mobi file for the Start in the opf. Ignore that. It is fine.

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Old 06-27-2012, 09:49 AM   #12
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Hi there, I have been getting the same issues as the OP. However, my books have started to open at 99% of the way through - this has just started to occur despite behaving correctly for years! - I am using a Kindle Keyboard. Using the 'go to' option to go to the beginning will take me 99% of the way through the book. I can use the left arrow to go back through the chapters but this is a major inconvienience!

Whilst I'm going to check my guide sections for some of by books (and then work out how to automatically correct this for ~9,000 books!) does anybody know WHY this has started to occur? It stinks of an update to something somewhere - books downloaded from the amazon store work without issue.

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Old 06-28-2012, 11:42 AM   #13
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For KF8 I find the following placed in the OPF file works:

Code:
<guide>
        <reference type="text" title="Beginning" href="Text/front-matter.html" />
        <reference type="toc" title="Table Of Contents" href="Text/linked-toc.html" />
</guide>
I caution against using the linked reference in the second post of this thread as it is old and dated. Amazon has updated things for KF8. If you use the newest Kindle Previewer to build your books then some things that once worked will no longer do so. I suggest downloading the latest copy of the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines from Amazon.

Last edited by jswinden; 06-28-2012 at 12:00 PM.
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