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Old 07-11-2008, 07:26 AM   #1
SpiderMatt
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Making Kindle Content for the N00b

Well, folks, I finally did it. I ordered myself one of those newfangled thingamajigs I been hearin' 'bout on the boob tube so much. It's a machine but it looks like paper and connects to those inter-webs that are so popular among the hipsters these days. What I'm really trying to say here is that I ordered myself a Kindle after my poor Sony Reader broke. Since I am stationed overseas, I had to send the Kindle to an address in the states to be forwarded to my FPO address. I'm expecting it to arrive at the state-side address on the 16th and it will be at least another week before I get it in my hands. So I have a little bit to learn the ropes before I ravenously rip open my new eink device. I want to learn some basic things before I get it so I can jump right in upon the Kindle's arrival. I searched the forums but I couldn't really find any threads that spelled it all out for me. I'm not a luddite or bad with electronics, mind you. I love computers. I am not a coder, though, and I don't understand all your 1337 speak. Any specific instructions/information to guide me through processes and programs is greatly appreciated.

The most important thing I need to know is how to make good looking books for the Kindle, preferably with operating TOCs. I used BookDesigner for my Sony Reader but, IIRC, the automatic TOC feature in that program cannot be read on the Kindle. How dissappointing. I then saw that most people seem to prefer the Mobipocket Creator program. So I downloaded that and looked at the menu to make a TOC and found that I have to know some HTML. I mean, I've dabbled in HTML as much as the next guy in his early 20s and made some web pages with the help of Dreamweaver and FrontPage but I don't really know what I would have to do to get this feature to work for me. I tried using the htm file from a book I made in BookDesigner hoping it had all the proper tags for Mobipocket Creator to just make up the TOC without any problems. I should be so lucky... So I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to creating books for the Kindle. I would love for someone to give me a step-by-step procedure for one of the most popular methods. I also would like to know about the formats that the Kindle reads. Does it read prc or mobi or does one or the other need the extention changed to azw? Yes, yes; laugh at my ignorance. I won't blame you so long as you help me out when you're done wiping the tears from your eyes.

My next order of business is RSS news! I am currently based overseas, so until I return to the states I don't get to take advantage of directly accessing information on my Kindle. I have fiddled around a bit with the Mobipocket Reader for PC and read on these forums about the RSS feature. Apparently there's a way to put the feeds on the Kindle? If this is the case, can it grab full articles? I would love to be able to load news on my Kindle without requiring the EVDO (it can also save me money for when I get back state-side). I tried playing around with the Feedbooks RSS feature, but I couldn't really get it to do what people said it did. It seems so straight forward, though. In some cases the problem was that the resulting file would only have the beginning excerpt from the feeds, and I know that in some cases this can't be helped. I couldn't figure out how to make one file out of multiple feeds, though. Maybe I just have to look more closely.

The last thing I would like to know is if you guys have any suggestions for a guy living overseas. What will make my use of the Kindle the most smooth and pleasant experience possible without the EVDO network? Personally, I can't wait for my next visit home so I can go around surfing Wikipedia on my Kindle and try all those other nifty features (like GPS and NowNow). In the meantime, what to do...

I know people on forums often hate repeating themselves, so if I've missed anything feel free to point me in the right direction. I really appreciate any information to help me out, though, especially dumbed down walk-throughs. I hate dealing with jargon I don't understand in tutorials. So thanks in advanced to any and all who offer information/advice.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:00 AM   #2
HarryT
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Have you read my tutorial on creating MobiPocket books? That might be a good place to start.

It's not true that you can't use BD's automatic TOC generator in Kindle (ie MobiPocket) books. I use it all the time and it works just fine.
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:24 AM   #3
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To amplify HarryT's post: see his Tutorial - How to Create a MobiPocket eBook. This includes instructions for upgrading BD's internal TOC into one that MobiPocket and the Kindle will include as a TOC in its menus.
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:44 AM   #4
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Sorry for the screen issue with your Sony. It does look very artistic.

I'll let others help you with the book designing. One first attempt has been converting a dictionary for use with the Kindle. Too much for a first try.

Anyway, I'll try to help you with a few things. While you are waiting for your Kindle to arrive, I suggest you take a moment to read through Amazon's Kindle User Guide as well as Brent Newhall's Fan Guide for some tips and tricks not in the official guide. Brent has a free pdf version of his guide you can read.

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I also would like to know about the formats that the Kindle reads.
Native files:

Kindle (.azw), text (.txt), Mobi (.mobi*, .prc*)
MP3 music format (.mp3)
Audible.com (.aa)

The following file formats can be converted via e-mail for viewing on Kindle:

Microsoft Word (.DOC)
Structured HTML (.HTML, .HTM) [the Kindle will read html files by changing the extension to .txt but it may not be pretty]
JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG) [you can load jpegs directly into the Kindle if you just want a gray scale photo album or to be used to create new screen savers]
GIF (.GIF) [the Kindle will save it's screen captures as .gif files]
PNG (.PNG)
BMP (.BMP)

Quote:
My next order of business is RSS news! I am currently based overseas, so until I return to the states I don't get to take advantage of directly accessing information on my Kindle. I have fiddled around a bit with the Mobipocket Reader for PC and read on these forums about the RSS feature. Apparently there's a way to put the feeds on the Kindle? If this is the case, can it grab full articles?
Yes, you can put the feeds from MobiPocket Reader on your Kindle and yes it will grab full articles as well as pictures (my L.A. Times subscription doesn't have pictures). Here are the instructions I shared with someone about adding an RSS feed of the NYT (this is based on an XP computer, I haven't tried it on my Vista machine to see if there are any differences)

Quote:
-Install the Desktop Reader here you can download from here:
http://www.mobipocket.com/en/Downloa...ailsReader.asp
-Do the dance of connecting your Kindle to the reader and have it recognized by the software
- Go to the New York Times and grab the RSS feed links to the sections you want
http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/index.html
-In the Desktop reader software click on "eNews"
-At the top of the window click on "add eNews"
-Add the url for each feed you want (you have to do them one at a time)
-Once you have all the feeds loaded in, select all of the feeds and right click, choose "send" to either the Kindle or the SD card if you have one. NOTE: The send feature will send the files to the wrong part of the Kindle. The feed will be sent to the eBooks folder. You will need to drag and drop them into the "documents" folder.
-Disconnect your Kindle and you'll see each individual feed listed with all the stories that go with that feed.
-Every morning you'll have to sync the feeds to update them and do the whole connect the Kindle and drag drop thing again.
Quote:
What will make my use of the Kindle the most smooth and pleasant experience possible without the EVDO network
As long as you have a computer with internet access, you're good to go. When I first received my Kindle, I was all about using the Whispernet to surf around on the basic web browser, experimenting with my internet email accounts and trying to set up Google Reader (didn't work). I'm over it now. I really only use Whispernet to download my books and subscriptions into my Kindle... that's it. I prefer to search for books to purchase on my computer.

Oh and the GPS is, isn't really GPS. It's just a cell tower triangulation.

That's my 2 cents. Enjoy your Kindle!
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:35 PM   #5
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Awesome! Thanks for the information, everyone. I tried out Harry's tutorial and, of course, it worked like a charm. I had found Harry's tutorial on BD earlier but I apparently missed this one. I'm glad to hear that the TOC from BD does work on the Kindle. I thought I had read something about the Kindle not reading it. Maybe I am thinking about something else. But if the TOC works in BD, why use Mobi Creator at all? I don't really understand what Mobi Creator adds to the book that you wouldn't get with just generating a prc file in BD.

I can't wait to try out the RSS feeds on my Kindle. It looks a lot easier and more flexible than libprs, in which you need to know python if you want to create custom feeds. Again: me = not a coder.

I figured the "GPS" feature wouldn't be all that great but I'm still interested in trying it. Thanks again for all the info.
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Old 07-12-2008, 07:40 AM   #6
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Don't use BD to generate MobiPocket books; it creates books using a very old version of the MobiPocket file format with very small images, no external navigation links, and no library metadata.

My tutorial shows how to use the BD to edit the book then, once you have it the way you want it, save it as HTML from BD and then use Mobi Creator to create the book. You get MUCH nicer books that way.
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