I recently noticed some very odd (and ugly) changes that seem to have been made to the Look Inside feature. This happens on books that were properly formatted using Scrivener. They were then checked using Kindle Previewer 3 and Kindle Cloud Reader. They look fine on all devices but the Look Inside looks very unprofessional. Can anyone tell me what is the latest state of things with Look Inside? I remember there being problems a while back, two years or more. Have they not been slved yet?
This is one issue with using a proprietary format based on and interpreted language without a solid worldwide standard. Device interpretation varies and the final product can look perfect on nearly all platforms yet still interpret odd on a few (the cloud reader interpretation is the worst I've found). The look inside has gone through some changes in the last 12 months and now interprets some features that it formerly ignored (embedded fonts are the most obvious). It is likely that these changes have also modified other points in the XML interpretation and display. If you are noticing the issues only in Scrivener created files I would pull up the final kindle file and begin to analyze the actual code to try and pinpoint what may be causing the issue. It is likely something specific to the style sheets exported through Scrivener, though I have not read any specific issues online lately.
books that were properly formatted using Scrivener
That's really an oxymoron. No automagical word processor can "properly format" an ebook. You can come close, just as lots of people come close simply by uploading a Word doc and trusting Amazon's automagical conversion, but it only works until it doesn't.
To answer your question about Look Inside, it has always been a bit odd. I never realized what a bad job Word was doing for me until LI was introduced, and suddenly my formatting in Word-uploaded books went crazy. So I sighed and redid them all. And there have been a couple of changes over the years, both of them for the better. (No doubt there were other changes I didn't notice.) My books now look closer than ever to how they appear in an actual Kindle or Fire tablet (though they do have a tendency to dance a bit upon first opening, as if Look Inside were saying hmm hmm yes what do we have here?
Of course they don't show chapter breaks as we would hope, but that is true of Big Five books as well, so I trust that the reading public has been properly brainwashed by now.
(Use CreateSpace for paperbacks; use KDP for ebooks.)
Do you have any advice for how I could edit the book after Scrivener? I just checked the HTML that Scrivener creates and looked at it in Safari. It's perfectly formatted. I don't see how I am supposed to be able to change what Amazon is doing in Look Inside.
Have you compared the CSS and coding of your two books to see where they differ in the affected sections. From what I see one title is interpreting a large font size across the linked LOC and both have a centering issue on the Author Name (I assume that was not intentional). Aside from that there may be other issues that are not properly displaying (I haven't compared against a bought copy) but they are not taking away from the readability of the look- inside. Often times issued such as this have to do with nested styles and the location of the classes within the nesting. While the file would pass a CSS check the nesting can still cause interpretation issues.
Worst case scenario if you can't find the issue - run the file through Calibre (I hate to say this but its a quick work around) and do an ePub conversion (not mobi) in the software. Upload the epub to KDP and "usually" it will clean up the format for look inside.
Thanks, R Butler. I opened my file in Calibre and reformatted it as ePub 2. Then I uploaded again to KDP. It seems that Calbre managed to clean up nearly all the issues I had with the file. It does look considerably better now. Not perfect but much more professional.
Andrew Sheppard wrote:
My book (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0787GSD9M) which I created with KindleGen looks fine in the Kindle Viewer and every other mobi reader app I have tried.
However, using "Look Inside" the book looks absolute crap! It's unrecognizable. Content missing and headings in bright green!
What gives? I've done all the validation I can.
A digital book is free-flowing. It does not act or look like a paper book.
You do need to justify your words so all words begin and end in a straight line. In the program Word, it would be the 4th area where you can see horizontal lines in the tab area.
It appears you need to add spaces between headings and such. That is all done in Word.
Many of us upload a Word.doc after it is formatted.
Did you format and upload a Word doc or did your format and upload an epub?
The reason you are having all these problems in the Look Inside is probably because you haven't explicitly declared defaults as you should do in your css for the following style property values in all your text/heading styles:
If you don't explicitly declare the above as defaults for all text styles then the Look Inside Kindle overrides(via cascading stylesheets) will take over resulting in unintended defaults and screwed up formatting.
If you are uploading a Word doc then open your doc and go back into Word Paragraph Styles and setup the following style properties properly within Word's default "Normal" paragraph style:
"Normal" text(no indent) -- set 'Special' to 'First Line' and 'By' to ' 0.01pt,
"Normal" text align -- set 'Alignment' to justify
"Normal" line-height -- set 'Line spacing' to 'At least' and 'At' to 14pt
Do the same for you main headings and just ensure that you set text indent for all headings to 0.01pt. You will probably also have to set up another specific text style if you are using line indents(usually set to 18pt in Word).
If you are self-formatting an epub using Sigil, then you should add all the above defaults to the bottom of your main css. For example, this is what I put at the very end of my main css in my epubs for KDP upload as a precaution, which should give you compliant and accurate styling for both your ebook-for-sale and Look Inside versions:
Please note how I have explicitly and deliberately declared all important and relevant default style properties within various inherited presets and globals used in my css to cover all the bases. In other words, this simple formatting tactic should work to help you avoid interference from all the offending Look Inside Kindle overrides to help solve all your problems.
Why not try my free Sigil plugins now available on MobileRead?
OpenDocHTMLImport - converts ODT HTML(Writer) docs directly to epub.
NormalizeScrivEpub - reformats, finishes off and normalizes Scrivener-generated epubs
LogicalTOCStyler - allows users to easily style the Logical TOC(Device TOC) as they prefer
As for your other problems, content normally goes missing in Kindles due to incorrect formatting. Remember that Kindle format is not true epub format but is a proprietary version of the IDPF epub standard. So when content goes missing it usually means that you've used html tags that are not in the Kindle list of supported tags which are all listed in this pdf: http://kindleformatting.com/book/files/KindleHTMLtags.pdf