Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer

By Lyn Horner

In my last blog I said I would next talk about book covers, but I’ve changed my mind. It occurred to me that I first need to explain the uses of Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer, because I will employ these tools to embed and view my book cover. Both are free programs provided by Amazon. Their purpose is to view a book as it would appear on the Kindle reader and/or other devices. By doing so we can spot glitches and correct them before uploading to the Kindle Digital Text Platform.

Quoting from Amazon’s Guidelines for Publishers, “Kindlegen is the only tool officially supported by Amazon to convert files to the Kindle format. Only Kindle files created using Kindlegen are guaranteed to be compatible with the current and future Kindle devices & applications. Files created with 3rd party software may not work properly on current or future Kindle devices & readers.”

Again quoting from Amazon, “Kindle Previewer is [a] graphical interface tool that emulates how books display on Kindle devices and applications. Kindle Previewer makes it easy to preview the layout of a book and make sure its text displays properly for any orientation or font size. This tool is recommended for publishers, eBook conversion companies, and individual authors in combination with Kindlegen to produce the highest quality Kindle books.”

Those are pretty strong reasons for using the Kindlegen and Kindle Previewer apps. Since I don’t want my uploaded book to turn out looking like it was created by an amateur, I’m taking Amazon’s advice. If you want to learn more about these two applications go to: http://s3.amazonaws.com/kindlegen/AmazonKindlePublishingGuidelines.pdf . I suggest you download this file for future reference. You can also download both apps at http://www.amazon.com/kindlepublishing .

One thing you should keep in mind is that Kindlegen is a command line tool, meaning you can’t just open it and automatically connect it to your book file. You will need to open it from the Start menu, which brings up a black command prompt window. Once there, you will follow specific steps to find your book and run it through Kindlegen. Further instructions are laid out in Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines (above). If you are more knowledgeable about computers than I am, or if you happen to have a friend or relative who is, it’s possible to create a shortcut linking Kindlegen to your book file. My son did this for me. If I can get him to write down the steps involved, I will forward that info to y’all later.

NOTE: If you choose, you have the option to skip using Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer, and simply upload your html book file to the DPT without previewing it offline. Amazon provides an online previewer as an alternative. The problem is, if you discover formatting errors, or your book cover looks terrible, you will need to remove your book, make the necessary changes, upload it again and hope everything works right. If not, you’ll have to repeat the whole cumbersome process again. Amazon has provided Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer so we can avoid those headaches.

Okay, I hope all this is a little clearer than mud, and you will know what I’m referring to when I mention Kindlegen and the Previewer in future blogs. This weekend “Dan the Computer Man” has kindly consented to meet with his tech-retarded old mom and help me figure out how to embed my book cover in my html book file. If he succeeds, and I have no doubt he will, I’ll report the results to you, my patient friends. Bye!

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