Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Picture it! Kindle Format 8 Has Landed

In the last post we considered the critical importance of having  a professional looking cover if we want potential readers to actually consider looking inside our book. Assuming they are attracted by our cover design the next obstacle we have to overcome is the actual look of the book - the format. Amazon gives potential customers the opportunity to look inside and read several pages and so how pleasing the format is to the eye will probably determine whether the customer takes the next step or not.
Enter Kindle Format 8. The major thing about KF8 for me is that it makes it really painless to create Kindle books with images embedded. I write fiction and non fiction. Non fiction for Kindle is a breeze with Kindle Writer (see an earlier post) but embedding images in the text was a far trickier proposition until KF8 on the scene. Currently it is only available for Kindle Fire but this will change over the coming months

Let's see what Kindle has to say about its latest formatting tool.
"Kindle Format 8 is Amazon’s next generation file format offering a wide range of new features and enhancements – including HTML5 and CSS3 support that publishers can use to create all types of books. KF8 adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including drop caps, numbered lists, fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics - opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love. Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 - in the coming months KF8 will be rolled out to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps.

Publishers have created thousands of KF8 titles already and customers are enjoying the improved formatting and reading features across all types of books. Additionally, KF8 features such as Kindle Panel Views and Kindle Text Pop Up enable great fixed layout books including graphic novels, comics and children’s books."

To be honest, at first it sounded a bit scary as I am not really a techie kind of person. I decided to download KF8 and give it a try. Somewhat confusingly on the download page it is listed as Kindle Gen v2.4 and is available for Windows (XP, Vista, and 7),  Mac OS 10.5 and above, and Linux 2.6 i386. You can download your version here. I eventually realised that KF8 was actually an add on to the KindleGen. I warned you I was a bit slow on the uptake. One other resource you will need to download is the Kindle Previewer. this tool shows you what your formatted book will look like on Amazon's Kindle. Download it here.

TIP: Create a file called KindleGen on your desktop. Make this the destination folder for your download. Your Kindlegen will be downloaded as .a zip file. Unzip it within the folder. This is where it got really confusing.

Normally you would click straight on kindlegen.exe and the program would install.
I did, it didn't.
There was only one thing for it, do what I normally never do - click the Readme.html file.
The following instructions show up:

KindleGen for Windows (XP, Vista, 7):1. Download the KindleGen zip file from www.amazon.com/kindleformat/kindlegen to the desktop.
2. Right-click the zip file, select Extract All, and enter the folder name as c:\KindleGen.
3. Open a command prompt by selecting Start menu > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt.
4. Type c:\KindleGen\kindlegen. Instructions on how to run KindleGen are displayed.
5. Conversion Example: To convert a file called book.html, go to the directory where the book is located, such as cd desktop, and type c:\KindleGen\kindlegen book.html. If the conversion was successful, a new file called book.mobi displays on the desktop.
6. Please note: it is recommended to follow these steps to run KindleGen. Double-clicking the KindleGen icon does not launch this program. Run the above commands without quotes.  If you drag and drop a file on the kindlegen executable it will convert the file for you, but you will not be able to capture the output logging, so this is also not recommended.
Do you see what's happened? Having already downloaded and unzipped my file and tried desperately to get the kindlegen.exe file started I at last open up the ReadMe.html document. There it helpfully tells me not only where I should download the zip file but also what I should name it. Bit late now! Thanks a bunch Amazon.

So, if you've followed thus far we'll skip to Step 3:  Open a command prompt by selecting Start menu > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt.
Still with me?
Apologies to those of you who find this child's play, I am really speaking to people who are as challenged as me.

The command prompt looks like this:

You will probably find that if you have a user name for your computer this string will appear
I also needed to add Desktop before adding KindleGen\kindlegen : c:\Users\phil\Desktop\KindleGen\kindlegen
Once I did this and clicked return this screen showed:

Your KF8 KindleGen is now activated and ready to use.
The KindleGen should look like this:

If you click on it nothing really happens. What you need to do is prepare your book.
The first thing you need to do is create a file.
When I started writing Google+ eXplosion I created a file called, guess what, Google+ eXplosion.
I used Microsoft Word to create my initial document and all the pictures I included in Word I also uploaded to my Google+ eXplosion file. There are a lot of them. I also saved my Word document in the same file.
TIP: Make a copy of kindlegen.exe and place it in the folder with your photos and Word document.

To make sure it was working I copied and pasted my document into an HTML editor.
Next I saved it as an html file in my Google+ eXplosion folder.
Then I simply drag and drop this file onto the kindlegen and it converts the HTML document to a mobi doc automatically in the same folder.

I open my Kindle Previewer, select the mobi document I just created and view it in the Previewer:

It has been formatted perfectly and is now ready to upload to Amazon. This process has enabled me to create Google+ eXplosion - a step by step guide for aspiring authors and entrepreneurs on how to quickly connect with a large target market of hot prospects. It will be available on June 28th.

If anyone has any questions about this post please email me at phil@helpyourchildsucceed.com or comment on this post. It may be we need to go into some areas in more detail.

Kindle Fire is available here:

In the next post we will focus on our old friend Writers Block.


  1. EBook publishing has grown to its great extent. Now one can notice a real feeling in digital format. I think, KF8 format transforms a tradition eBook into wonder eBook. All the novel, comics, children story books with graphics can be well worth with this format. So no wonder people are looking for KF8 Fixed Layout Conversion for Kindle.

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