Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Converting with KindleGen and Kindle Previewer, part of InDesign CS6 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad.
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The Kindle Previewer is that free bit software that Amazon offers on their KDP portal. You can download it right here for Windows or Mac. It's a neat little utility that does a whole bunch of stuff, and for our purposes, it's probably the best way to create a Kindle book. Because it can take an EPUB that you have tweaked by cracking it open and editing the CSS and HTML files, and it can convert that to a single MOBI file that also includes the KF8 formatting.
Not only that, but it can preview what your eBook will look like in a bunch of Kindle Fire and eReader devices. So this workflow gives you a lot more control than using the Kindle plug-in for InDesign. Kindle Previewer, by the way, automatically uses KindleGen while it processes the EPUB to convert it. So you do need to download and install KindleGen, but you don't need to run KindleGen. KindleGen as it says, here is a command line tool. So you would need to run it like from Terminal on OS X or the command line interface on Windows, and it's basically the engine that converts various file types to MOBI/KF8 format.
But we don't have use the command line, we can just use Kindle Previewer. Make sure that you download both of them and install both of them before you begin. Okay, so then the recommended workflow here is that you start in InDesign, you tweak as necessary for KF8 and MOBI7, according to the guidelines that you downloaded earlier, you export to EPUB--I'm going to go ahead and export this to EPUB right on the desktop-- and we don't need to view it after exporting. In the resulting EPUB you open it up, you tweak whatever you want to do, you see what it looks like in various eReaders.
You can't see what it's going to look like on any Kindle Readers because it's not converted yet. But there might be some basic changes that you want to make to the EPUB even before you took a gander, and then you open this up with Kindle Previewer. So I have that queued up over here, double- click Kindle Previewer, and the homepage--this little home right there--lets you click to open a book, and you can see that it can open up a MOBI file, an EPUB file, an HTML file, or even an OPF, that's for the people who are handcrafting their own EPUBs, and we're going to choose open the book to preview, and we want to choose our EPUB.
Now it is using KindkeGen to crunch through it, and it's done that's good. Sometimes it's not able to create a good MOBI, and it will tell you why even when it's successful as it is here, it'll still tell you what it did. So here's all the work that it did while we were sitting here, it unpacked the EPUB file, it did whatever MOBI kind of stuff it needed to do with the metadata and the HTML files, it built the table of contents, it did some other crazy stuff, very geeky here, at the very bottom.
The file format version is version 8, so it's good for KF8 and also the Mobi file is built successfully. The output file creates a Mobi file from it, and you can click to see where it is. It names it according to the date that it created it and the time. You can just click OK, and then it's going to go ahead and open up that Mobi file, and here it is. So this is the cover. We're missing a table of contents. This is something that we could fix in the EPUB. This is a navigational table of contents, and we click on Painting in Spain, and it brings us to painting in Spain, and I really didn't tweak this at all for MOBI 7, so this is the sad thing that's happening to our drop cap.
But if you want to see what it's going to look like on a different kind of Kindle, just go up to the Devices dropdown menu. It's by default showing us what it would look like on a Kindle Touch. If you want to see what it would look like on a generic eReader, it's that one. It doesn't look too bad. If you want to see what it would look like on a Kindle Fire see, there is our drop cap. It looks much better. You want to see what it looks like tiny on Kindle for iPhone. So the Kindle software for the iPhone is still MOBI 7 apparently.
But you can see that KindleGen and the Kindle Previewer went through and decided what to do with their drop cap here, which I think is very nice of them. So let's say that you added this MOBI file to your device, and you didn't like how it looked. Well, then you just come back here to your hard drive, and you edit the EPUB again, you zip it back up as an EPUB, and you reconvert it. So that's the best way to create a Kindle version of your eBook. It gives you a lot more control, make a good InDesign file, export it to EPUB, and convert it with Kindle Previewer.
- Understanding the differences between ebook formats
- Best practices for InDesign file preparation
- Managing the content flow with Layout order and the Articles panel
- Using free InDesign scripts to automate EPUB productions
- Optimizing images, charts, and tables
- Opening and examining EPUB files
- Editing important CSS and HTML tags
- Including drop caps, pull quotes, and text wraps
- Enriching your EPUBs with video and embedded fonts
- Acquiring an ISBN for ebooks
- Converting EPUBs to Kindle format (MOBI and KF8)
- Distributing ebooks with resellers and aggregators