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Old 04-04-2009, 01:43 AM   #1
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Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide

Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide by Joshua Tallent is available DRM-free on the Kindle and also as a paperback and a DRMed MOBI. From its web page:
Quote:
This book details the process of formatting a Kindle eBook from beginning to end. It includes tips on getting the contents of your file into HTML, explanations of HTML and CSS coding practices, a complete description of all of the HTML and CSS that is supported on the Kindle, examples of common formatting situations, and detailed information on creating a Mobipocket file from your final source that will give your book some additional features and give you additional sales opportunities.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the details of the Kindle's AZW format. Even if you just want an overview, this may still be the book for you because it is very readable and could be skimmed and dipped into as needed. As a tutorial on how to edit ebooks it may (or may not) be over emphasizing direct editing of the HTML, but that is what makes it useful for reference. A lot of the information is also applicable to MOBI ebooks in general, although there is no discussion of any device specific issues except for the Kindles (not even Kindle ebooks on the iPhone).

Things I found out from this ebook:
  • The PRE tag and CSS font-family: monospace do not work, use CODE (or TT or SAMP or KBD) tags instead.
  • Maximum in-lined image sizes are different on the K1 and K2.
  • Blockquotes indent by 1/2" on the K1 but 1/4" on the K2. This makes nested blockquotes useless on the K1.
  • How to include navigational waypoints on the K2.
I actually read the ebook on my PC using Desktop MobiPocket Reader. I never do this for fiction, but a larger screen does help for technical books. It is readable on my K1 though, and would be better still on a K2.
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:09 PM   #2
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All that information is available online. Also, the Kindle now supports monospaced fonts in "pre" tags, at least, possibly blockquotes.
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:09 AM   #3
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The information in almost any howto book will be available on-line these days. The advantage of a howto book is that all the information is in one place. In this case, it is being presented by a professional ebook developer. If the information about the K2's maximum image size (520×622 vs 524×640 on the K1) and how to add waypoints is on this forum I have not seen it. There are obviously other forums for the Kindle, so the information could be available somewhere.

The Kindle's support monospaced fonts (recently added to the K1), but not, according to Joshua, via "font-family: monospace" or PRE. He is using CODE tags in place of PRE in this ebook
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:04 AM   #4
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For the record, PRE tags do not work on the Kindle, at least not in any test I have run.

Also, while some of the information in my book is available online, what is out there is not easy to find or very clear... or even correct. For instance, the HTML lists in the DTP's own documentation is incorrect and unhelpful.

Also, I have some very unique information available in the book that you will not find out elsewhere, including:
  • Formatting Poetry (a unique, tested format that allows for hanging indents at various levels)
  • Formatting an Outline (since outline numbering is not supported on the device)
  • Actual dimensions of the Kindle screen area and image optimization tips
  • How to create links to the built-in Kindle Store (like you see at the end of a Kindle sample)
  • How to put Buy-Now links in your Kindle books (ditto)
  • Formatting Sidebars and Pull Quotes
  • DRM encryption for DTP-published books (how to do it and how to avoid it)
  • The complete master list of Kindle-supported HTML and CSS with explanations and examples of each tag.

Obviously I think the book is needed, or I would not have put so much time into it. I think you will agree if you take a look.

- Joshua Tallent
http://kindleformatting.com
http://ebookarchitects.com
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:24 AM   #5
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Joshua, question:

Why do you refer to specific page numbers in this book? Also, wouldn't it be better to provide a link when you say something like:

Quote:
Examples of this can be seen on page 110.
I've looked at it for a couple hours. I think it's worth 8 bucks
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:48 AM   #6
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Nate,

Thanks for reading the book. I left the text just as it is in the print version, but you are right, I should have linked those page references. I will do that today and push out an update.

Thanks!
Joshua
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kindleformatting View Post
Nate,

Thanks for reading the book. I left the text just as it is in the print version, but you are right, I should have linked those page references. I will do that today and push out an update.

Thanks!
Joshua
Hi Joshua,
How does one get an update for a book one's downloaded? Re-download it from Amazon?
Thanks for compiling the book.
George
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kindleformatting View Post
Nate,

Thanks for reading the book. I left the text just as it is in the print version, but you are right, I should have linked those page references. I will do that today and push out an update.

Thanks!
Joshua
So, the expert in Kindle formatting forgot to format his book about the Kindle for the Kindle?
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:31 PM   #9
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Joshua, you might want to fix the hyperlinks. Most are okay, but the ones you put inside parentheses are not. They show as text, not a link.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
I've looked at it for a couple hours. I think it's worth 8 bucks
I just paid 10 bucks for it. If it provides a list of all the html and CSS that are supported, and all the other bits of information then I think it's worth $10.

Last edited by Daithi; 04-06-2009 at 12:55 PM. Reason: grammar error
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:46 PM   #11
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Image information incomplete

I bought this book and downloaded it to the MobiReader. I see a lot of useful information.

What I don't see is how to format images so that they do NOT take up the entire width of the page. He does talk a bit about placing an image within a sentence, but nothing about creating an image that only displays across say 362px of the page. Everyone seems to talk about fullsize images or inline (within a sentence) images, but no one discusses how to make your 326px, 411px, and 247px image display actual size on the page. This is a critical issue for technical works wherein the images might be of different widths but the author does NOT want them to spread across the entire width of the page thereby becoming disproportionate to one another.

I've also used a lot more CSS than the very few examples he lists. For example:

page-break-before: always;
text-transform: uppercase;
margin-top: 6pt; margin-bottom: 12pt

The more generic you make your CSS and HTML, the more likely you can re-use it with different formats--say for the Sony PRS-505s. For example, page-break-before works with most reader formats whereas <mbpagebreak/> only works with Kindles. Single sourcing is very important for multi-platform publication, so avoid Kindle specific tags.

There does seem to be a lot of useful information in his book. However, it is NOT the definitive how-to book on eBook formatting, or even Kindle formatting. And I too am shocked that he didn't use hyperlinks instead of page references. That alone shows the immaturity of his eBook formatting experience. This eBook is way over-priced at $9.99.
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:01 PM   #12
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I disagree. While this book would be of little help to an technical expert, it doesn't matter. The target audience of this book is people who aren't computer geeks. It's for people who don't already know this stuff.

You should also consider how many hours it would take to figure all this out on your own, and then divide that number by $10. As for the missing links, I see that as a case of the cobbler's children having no shoes. It's worth a giggle, but is not a major faux pas.
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswinden View Post
What I don't see is how to format images so that they do NOT take up the entire width of the page.
I agree that this isn't included. Apparently, hisrc will do what you want, see Image optimization for Kindle 2 and Image support.
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:03 PM   #14
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I haven't read the book yet (I'm starting as soon as I get home tonight), but I wanted to address the issue about this information already being available on the web. If it is, I haven't been able to find it, and I've looked. Plus what I have found is often wrong. For example, I spent hours trying to add a TOC without adding them through the guides section of mobicreator. It was very frustrating and I found lots of posters just parroting the useless comments of other posters with no one actually testing what they were saying.

BTW, the max image size on the K1 is 640x525 and not 640x524. I hope this error is from wallcraft's post and not the book.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:46 AM   #15
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Jack:

1. I do discuss the issues with smaller images in the second paragraph in the Dimensions section in Chapter 5.
The actual size of the viewable book area on the Kindle 1 screen is 524px &times; 640px, and the viewable book area on the Kindle 2 screen is 520px &times; 622px. Any images larger or smaller than that (including those sized 450px &times; 550px) will be automatically re-sized until the width or height fits the viewable book area. At 261px &times; 319px on Kindle 1 and 260px &times; 311px on Kindle 2 (half the size of the viewable book area) the image is no longer resized to fit the book area&rsquo;s width or height. This is important when you are creating logos or other small images for your book. Logos usually look great when sized around 75&ndash;100px wide. However, images will still lose some quality when reduced in size, especially photos. I suggest that you keep your images at the Kindle 2 dimensions (520px &times; 622px) if you can, so that your image quality does not suffer.
2. I mention the page-break-before:always CSS in the section on Page Breaks in Chapter 5.

3. I mention the top-margin and bottom-margin CSS in the section on Margins in Chapter 5.

4. The problem with re-using your HTML wholesale is that there are best practices for all of the devices. In an ePub you have to hit the lowest common denominator so that your text looks decent on the Sony, Stanza, ADE, and other readers. However, if you are creating a book for the Kindle, it is best to make sure your book looks good on its screen. The Kindle applies some very specific formatting that you have to explicitly override in some cases, and it has specific image and table issues that make using a common HTML file untenable.

In addition, the ePub and Mobipocket formats are not the same. The OPF support is different, the HTML support is different, and the CSS support is different. There are a large number of areas where you cannot make the two mesh, and it is best to treat them as different animals. Sure a fiction book can be easily converted from one to the other, but once you start getting into business books, textbooks, and other books with formatting irregularities, you are much better off dealing with two different source files.

5. Give me a break about the links. I was in a rush to get my own book done in the midst of a variety of other projects for my clients, and I forgot to make the links active. It is fixed and should be active on the Kindle store soon.

6. As for "the immaturity of his eBook formatting experience" -- I am widely known as the only non-Amazon expert on the Kindle format. I taught a tutorial on it at the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference, and I am the eBook consultant for LibreDigital, one of the leading eBook conversion and archiving companies in the publishing industry. I have been an eBook Developer for more than 6 years, I run my own business providing eBook conversion services to authors and publishers, and I have formatted hundreds of print books into eBook formats. I dislike being spoken of in such a derogatory way, and I would hope you could take the time to actually read my book and look at my background before making such disrespectful statements.

Sincerely,
Joshua Tallent
http://kindleformatting.com
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