Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Converting with Kindle Previewer, part of InDesign CC 2015: EPUB Fundamentals.
- I've mentioned a number of times in this course that to get your ebook into the Kindle Store, you're going to have to convert the EPUB to the Kindle proprietary format known as KF8. Now the good news is that Kindle gives us a free utility called Kindle Previewer that will convert our EPUBs to KF8 and lets us preview what it looks like in different devices in the Kindle family. Now before we talk about installing Kindle Previewer and using it to convert your EPUBs, I just want to call your attention to this fantastic issue that we just published at InDesign magazine.
The cover story is from InDesign to Kindle, written by Kevin Callahan, who's editor-in-chief of epubsecrets.com, and it is, I think at least 30 pages worth of fantastically valuable information about how to convert an InDesign file to EPUB and from there to a reflowable KF8 file. And maybe by the time you watch this, we will have published additional issues about this, but keep your eye on Issue 72, it's definitely worth the download. Okay, so to get Kindle Previewer itself, go to the Kindle Previewer page, it's part of the Tools page that I showed in the earlier video, or just search for Kindle Previewer.
As I record this, we're up to version 2.94, it's available for Windows and Macs, and then just click the Download button, I agree to terms and of use. There is also a Kindle Previewer PDF documentation that you can download, that I suggest that you do. It's really not that difficult to understand, though. However, for the Macintosh, it's a little hairy to install. I don't know why, I don't think you have those issues on Windows, the last time I did, it just installed and it was fine. But when you start to install this on a Macintosh, it's going to give you an alert that you have to install something called X11, some sort of behind-the-scenes software for Macintosh.
And when it gives you a link to the X11 page, it brings you here where you learn from Apple that X11 is no longer included, and instead, you should use something called XQuartz, with a different link. I'm just here to reassure you that's all you have to do, just follow the links, install XQuartz right here, restart your Mac, and then Kindle Previewer will run perfectly well. If you have any questions about Kindle Previewer that aren't answered in the User Guide, you can go to the Amazon.com's Discussions area and there is a post just about Kindle Previewer, this particular version, and you can get some answers from your fellow users and from Amazon themselves, which is kinda cool.
All right, so we are going to convert this EPUB, this Robinson Crusoe's Money book that we've been using on and off throughout the course, to a KF8 format, also known by the way as MOBI files. That's the extension they still use. And just to review, this is a medium long book, it has a title page, dedication, it's got a table of contents, images, and so on. I have already filled in the metadata, I go to Export to EPUB, and click Save to replace the existing one.
You can see that I've already filled in all the metadata here and everything else is set as normal. I'm gonna go ahead and cancel out of here, 'cause I already did that EPUB and it's right here in our Exercise file. The main thing that you wanna do before you run Previewer on this EPUB file, is to make sure that the EPUB is valid. I talked about validating EPUBs in an earlier video, here I'm gonna drag and drop it on top of EPUB-Checker, which is one of my favorite utilities for validating EPUB files. And you wanna make sure that it's valid, you wanna make sure that we see this screen.
No errors or warnings detected. Because if there are problems with the EPUB, it's not going to convert to a MOBI file. Then make sure it's valid, fix that, and then we can go ahead and start up Kindle Previewer, which I'm already running right here. Kindle Previewer is a little funky kind of program that runs in Java and it doesn't use the normal kind of OS user interface. To open a book to preview, you have to click this link here. There's no Open button. Notice that you can convert or view a MOBI file, an EPUB file, HTML file, or even the OPF file and extract the EPUB. Kinda interesting.
So I'll click Open Book, and now we want to point it at our EPUB, which is on the desktop and Chapter_08, there is our EPUB right there. Click Open, and it is compiling the book using Kindlegem. Now if you want to see all the details of what it did when it was compiling the book using that command line software in the background, you can twirl this open. It's kinda interesting, I guess, in a geeky sort of way. The best part is that we didn't see any errors or warnings.
If you just see this then you're good to go. To see where it put the actual MOBI file, click the link right here, and you'll see it usually puts the inside of a folder next to the EPUB and it gives it a timestamp. So that's the MOBI file, this is something you can drag to your Kindle or open in Kindle Reader for the Mac or the Windows platform and read it just like a regular book. But if we come back to Kindle Previewer, after you click OK, then it does the actual previewing. And it previews in a default device that is set in Preferences for Previewer.
Here it's a Fire HDX in portrait mode. Pretty cool, huh? We saw this earlier in one of the first videos in the title where I'm showing you how a MOBI file is also a reflowable ebook. You can switch to landscape, or back to portrait, or choose a different device, it's great. But if it doesn't look right, like I see an issue here with this drop cap, then you know that you need to go back to InDesign, fiddle with the settings, and then re-export and re-convert.
That's the beauty and the utility of using Kindle Previewer on the desktop.
- Choosing between fixed-layout and reflowable EPUB
- Creating an EPUB workspace in InDesign
- Managing the sequence of content
- Creating a table of contents for navigation
- Working with book files and Word documents
- Adding metadata
- Cleaning up text formatting
- Mapping text styles
- Optimizing images for EPUB export
- Exporting to EPUB2 and EPUB3
- Previewing and validating EPUB files
- Converting EPUBs to other formats