f you have been reading my Blog entries here you will have seen that I am experimenting with Kindle. One project I have undertaken is to try to publish something written by my little girl as an experiment, to see how the publishing process works.
I was careful to pick a simple story with few words. As a childrens book, I thought the top half of each page should be a picture, the bottom half should be no more than two lines of words.
I went through the various web sites and tutorials that are available. I was careful to follow instructions. I uploaded my content and used the preview tools to see what it would look like. I modified what i did not like, and tried again.
Then I hit the publish button and am now waiting for the publishing process to conclude so I can download the 'book' onto my Kindle.
Here is the exact point where the whole process fails: I have no idea what it will look like.
This is an annoying situation to be in. I'm not exactly technical, but I'm fairly competent in the 'getting the details straight' department. Yet with the tools provided by Amazon, it is impossible to know what your book will look like before you hit the big red button.
Why is that? How could that be?
My guess is that Amazon sees Kindle not as a vehicle to grow the long tail, and let all of us publish our own works without interference from those pesky editors and publishers who take a lot of our money for the opportunity of correcting our grammar and arranging the wholesale slaughter of trees.
Nope, this is a platform built solely to ensure that when those same dead tree publishers create their electronic editions, that Amazon is not left out.
The Amazon publisher web page will accept ebook submissions in any format. The actual Kindle format is a rube, a red herring, a distraction. What is really intended is that you publish electronically in MOBI, or another established format, using expensive professional tools, and then submit to Amazon, who do a simple DRM wrapping, and out it goes.
I know this because I use Amazon every day. I use their tools, their cloud, their website, I own 2 Kindles. I think Bezos is a genius. THEY GET THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS.
So when a little thing like an easy to use WYSIWYG publishing tool for Kindle is missing, there can be only one reason: they don't think one is necessary.
Much as we would like it to be, AMZ is not like Apple. Its not about empowerment. Its about market dominance and control. Our contributions in this arena are not valued. So empowering tools are not needed, hence not provided.
So I'm wondering what my little girl's book will look like. and wondering if I have to start over from scratch and consider publishing it another way.
I agree with 12349876ffff. If you have published the book you should be able to click on Preview and see approximately how it will appear on Kindle. Actually, you could have previewed it BEFORE you clicked on Publish! So, maybe just a little opportunity to complain?
he did preview it. but everybody knows the preview is approximate and frequently wrong. and there's plenty of other value to his "rant." anyone digging deep into formatting will immediately empathize with amstanley416. the publishing process should be vastly improved! complete formatting support documentation should be available now, and for free! look at how many people are out there struggling in the blogosphere, trying to sort it out! and look at how many ebooks are for sale to guide people through it (or claiming to!). and what's worse- it's obvious that amazon is attempting to control it: one word- TOPAZ. and one more- ePub. and one acronym- [b]IDPF[/b]
and here's a few items for thought:
limited css functionality
no XML stylesheets
no image left/right align attribute
no text wrapping around images
lame margin control
forced ISO 8859-1
and no fonts
"The following languages are no longer selectable and books that had these values have been set to 'no language' -- : abkhazian, anglo-saxon, arabic, cantonese_chinese, chinese, creole, croatian, hebrew, hindi, hungarian, indo_european, malayalam, old_english, polish, romanian, russian, and turkish." http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/ann.jspa?annID=5
and knowledge base is a joke. here's an example:
visit community support page "Formatting Tips" http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=25&categoryID=11
click any of the keywords: css, initial, margins, raised, stylesheets
try some other pages. worthless.
I agree with you, and individuals who are Monday morning quarterbacks are no help. I totally sympathize and wonder why Amazon doesn't provide proper support for authors who are helping them to promote their Kindle.
While I praise Amazon for some services, I find them lacking in this area.
I am including a thread which I posted on a separate forum, and hope it can help someone. I'd like to spend more time writing and not have to deal with the dtp conversion contradictions and shortcomings.
HOW TO PUBLISH ANYTHING ON AMAZON'S KINDLE by Randy Benjamin is an easy to read 34 page pamphlet for the technically challenged that gives simple step by step instructions for working graphics into your text file for Kindle. Randy explains why you need to convert to grey scale, the tools you'll need, and how to do it. He also suggests you use the Web filtered HTML format. This little pamphlet is great for graphics and non-graphics. It also includes suggestions for promoting your book and the importance of an eye-catching cover. Placing a book on Kindle doesn't automatically translate into royalties, so promotion, discussion, and strategies are important.
On another thread, someone suggested Kindle's THE INDIE AUTHOR'S TWO-STEP GUIDE TO PUBLISHING IN THE KINDLE STORE. Both of these books are inexpensive and easy reading. I have no affiliation with either author, and can honestly say that Randy Benjamin's pamphlet is excellent. His website is www.randybenjamin.com. Good luck, folks!
I'd also love to throw in a plug here (and may do so on the blog as well) for KindleWizards. I am a designer who has specialized in book covers, typesetting, and web design for years, and when the time came to create my first Kindle edition for a client, it really was a nightmare for all the reasons that amstanley and darthkindle described, plus others. But I had the advantage of lots of web design and typesetting expertise, and dug in and worked out a lot that it would take a normal person months or years to get right--after which, of course, some new Kindle would probably already be out with different tools. The result was a beautifully-formatted book that beat most of what's put out even by the big publishers.
So now I knew what I was doing, I started a company called KindleWizards, and we just do all the work for you. So this is the shameless-plug part of the post: If you're having trouble with your Kindle edition, it's almost certain that the hours and hours and weeks of fiddling with it, time you could be spending with the family or making money, is just not going to be worth it. So come to http://www.kindlewizards.com (or call 877-WIZ-0102 for you old-fashioned types) and get it done right, fast, and cheap. We know what we're doing, we're friendly, and your book will look every bit as professional as one from a big publisher.
LOL. Everybody is busy plugging there books and services on the DTP forum, but only a few are actually trying to help people!
hostaholic and 1234..., the product preview tool does not necessarily provide a satisfactory representation of how the document will display on a Kindle device.
Email your file (or zip) to your Kindle.com address. If you are displaying images in your doc, zip your document file along with your image files (don't add any folders/subdirectories within the zip archive) You won't see the embedded images in the doc downloaded onto your Kindle but otherwise you will gain a quality preview of how your doc will display on your Kindle model.
Yes, DTP should be easier than this, but Amazon is spending their resources supporting the big publishers. Mom and pops are left with the sorely lacking DTP. And at the same time the 'Kindle file format' is long in the tooth.
Instead of milking the cash cow for all it's worth, it's time for Amazon to get together with other eBook publishing industry representatives and agree to support some standards. It's going to have to happen sooner or later. May as well as be sooner!
Just a thought... It is possible Amazon is hard at work, secretly behind-the-scenes, developing publishing tools and interfaces to support industry standard file formats. So Amazon is not putting much resources into documentation or upgrading their current DTP tools to support their current existing proprietary Kindle file format?
"1234..., the product preview tool does not necessarily provide a satisfactory representation of how the document will display on a Kindle device."
I've published three books to the Kindle using nothing but the preview tool and have been complemented by customers on how well formatted they were. Granted, these books were not complex and did not have TOC's nor many graphics. But in my case, the product preview tool provided a more than satisfactory representation of how the document would display.
But just to be sure, I downloaded Mobi's tool anyway just to see how it would look on devices other than the Kindle.
"Amazon is spending their resources supporting the big publishers. Mom and pops are left with the sorely lacking DTP. And at the same time the 'Kindle file format' is long in the tooth.
Instead of milking the cash cow for all it's worth . . ."
I don't understand why people bother with Preview and trying to get book creation done through dtp.
Simply download the Mobipocket Creator and Reader, and build the book using these tools. You will have a very good idea of whether your book is well formatted or not, and then you can upload. The preview view is very pale imitation of what a book actually looks like on Kindle.
You can upload the .mobi file to dtp. The only important difference I've noticed is that on Kindle tables are invariably converted to graphics, while mobi retains some "flowability".