Styles are the foundation of best book practices

Most authors who use a word processor do not use custom styles; instead, authors are in the habit of using the default Normal style and using the tab key and the formatting toolbar to customize headings and paragraphs. Unfortunately, this is a bad habit that will come to bite you later if you want to turn your manuscript into a print or ebook. It is much better practice to control the formatting of your manuscript through styles. Styles are the foundation of best book practices, in particular ebooks: when your Read More …

Image handling in ePubs reaches new level of inanity

Placing images into ePubs has always been an issue. At the heart of the problem is the myriad ways that device and app manufacturers have programmed image handling. While Amazon have remained consistent with their sensible shrink-to-fit approach, ePub device and app programmers have been all over the map. And it is only getting worse. So bad, in fact, that I stopped providing conversion services for clients with image-laden ebooks. It’s not that the work is impossible, only that the work involved to optimize and test everything is not worth Read More …

Sigil is back on track—but for how long?

Last summer when John Schember, Sigil’s lead developer, gave me the bad news that Sigil was dead, I cried. Literally. It’s the only time I have ever cried over the loss of a piece of software. Despite the cessation of development, Sigil was still the best out there for building ePubs, and so, with the threat of Sigil losing its place on Google Code a very real possibility, I asked John if I could host the program on my website. Unfortunately I then ran into the problem of this WordPress Read More …

Third edition of The Global Indie Author now available in Canada

Well, after much trial and tribulation, the third edition of The Global Indie Author is out now in Canada. Readers can find it on Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.ca. By the way, that “Usually delivers in 3-5 weeks” declaration on the Amazon.ca website is nonsense; the book delivers in less than a week. The extended delivery time is just part of Amazon/CreateSpace’s strategy against competitor Lightning Source, which, incidentally, is covered in detail in the book. If you want to avoid supporting Amazon, buy from the Chapters/Indigo website, where the book is Read More …

Third Edition of The Global Indie Author is now available in U.S. and Europe

The third edition of The Global Indie Author is out now in print on Amazon U.S., UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. All other territories coming soon! eBooks are also on the way. As mentioned in my previous post, the third edition features a new cover, new subtitle — to reflect the truly global phenomenon that self-publishing has become — and a great deal of new content (over 80 pages). The technical chapters have been completely overhauled to deal with the complexities of image handling, the increasing frustrations of font Read More …

New bugs in Kindle for PC app

Amazon recently updated the Kindle for PC app and alas two bugs have appeared. The first is that the app no longer defaults to justifying body text as it did before, regardless of how you code your book. Previously, if one left the text-align value out of the relevant CSS or if you coded in “text-align:justify;” the app would justify the text; now everything displays aligned left and you get the jagged right margin. I have informed Amazon of the bug, and they have responded that the technicians are now Read More …

Are we approaching the release of HR ebooks?

With the release of high-resolution devices from all the major manufacturers, I have been musing on the possible development of high-resolution ebooks developed specifically for this market. These devices demand not only larger images but also a rethink of how image-heavy content must be delivered: just as we now see movies delivered in both HD (Blu-Ray) for one market and in standard DVD format for those without an HD system, I expect that we will start seeing HR ebook files developed for the high-resolution device market and differentiated from standard Read More …

Kindle bug breaks NCX TOC

[UPDATE: January 2016: Amazon now allow for publishers to embed their book covers inside the file before upload to KDP; if you are using a jpeg title page, I would advise that you embed your cover. This way Amazon’s system will not mistake your title page for the cover. Note also that embedding your cover requires specific code. See the KDP guide for more information.] A client recently uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing a new book that I designed for him that had a jpeg image for its title page—a Read More …

The conumdrum that is Kindle font handling

UPDATED 11 June 2014 (NOTE: where I include code, the quotation marks should be straight quotes, not curly quotes. When I updated my WordPress site it began automatically using curly quotes, and I cannot find a way to stop it.) If you are designing a book for Kindle where the book uses only a single font, you do NOT include font definitions anymore. Amazon, in fact, now strip out such font definitions. This is because font definitions can prevent the user from selecting their preferred font. This article is for Read More …

Significant changes to Kindle image requirements

Updated 31 May 2014: Amazon have upped the maximum pixel limit again for ebook covers and are now asking for cover images to be “2820 pixels on the shortest side and 4500 pixels on the longest side” for best quality. Maximum file size is still 5MB. Minimum pixel dimensions for covers are 625 x 1000 pixels. This new size strikes me as overkill. The highest resolution device that Kindle produces is 2560 pixels; why would Amazon want 4500 pixels? Your guess is as good as mine. For internal images, the Read More …