John's comments from life.

Formatting books for the Kindle

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 0 Comments
To format a book for Kindle is not the easiest thing to figure out from scratch, so I'm hoping this will be a help. If nothing else, it'll help me remember what I did.

I'm going to talk about using InDesign files, instead of HTML or Word, or PDF. There are several "automatic" conversions from these file formats, but is very had to get something that looks like what you want.

Some guidelines:
  1. Export using Paragraph and Character Styles. Text that does not have a style applied will not be formatted (ie: italic font -vs- italic character style). While you can choose "apply local formatting", it will increase the size of your file incredulously.
  2. Objects. Images should be formatted separately and re-inserted into the text. Allowing the Kindle plugin format the objects is not recommended because you aren't sure what you're going to get.
  3. Individual files. So far, the only way to get page breaks is to create a INDD Book, with a chapter for each section, chapter, etc. Because of this, it's much easier to work the whole book as one file, then break it up later, then create hyperlinks.
  4. Small Caps. Kindle doesn't do Small Caps. But other epub readers do. When formatting, keep Small Caps as a Character style, and Kindle will just italicize them, but the formatting will be there for other types of readers.
Order of events:
  1. Apply italics to the file. You need to go through the file (unless you know it's ok) and make sure all italics are, in fact, a Character Style and not just local formatting. The problem with this is I've not found a good way to look for italics and not also get Italic Small Caps, or Paragraph styles with italic font (ie: verses.) Because of this, it's a find / replace command, but need to go through it manually. One trick of this is that find/replace will go through the story, then come back and get the 'black boxes', or other text in text frames. It's easy to not be sure you get everything (especially because once you 'break' the find/replace by working text manually (ie: miss one and have to go back to fix it) then find/replace will "start" there and want to finish up here. I know it sounds weird but you'll understand later.) Explained more below.
  2. Apply bold. Do the same process as above with Bold text. Again, there will be Para Styles w/ Bold, and those don't need this applied. Just text within regular styles
  3. Apply bold italic. Same thing. You'll find these in verses mainly, but it's the least used attribute.
  4. Run GREP commands. (I'll get into this later, below.) Basically it will clean up the text automatically.
  5. Create images. I've taken a press PDF, then just cut images out (specific size screenshots on the Mac) and tried to make the larger images 600 pixel / point wide. The small Kindle screen is only 600 pt wide. Just go through the PDF and copy anything that looks like you can't format (tables will format, but images w/ text -- Certificate of Debt, etc. will need to be captured.)
  6. Rename images. No spaces allowed. I've used the format of chapter-section-image_atp-eng-epub.jpg (04-5-01_atp-eng-epub.jpg) This helps in placing images, as you generally know what chapter / section you are working.
  7. Re-work images. Sometimes when cutting images, you have to grab some text. In Photoshop, just brush (white) out the unwanted text. Some images can be combined (crosses are vertical, position those horizontal.) Small images make the canvas 600pt wide, so it will display small in Kindle (otherwise it'll stretch to fit what it can.) Once done, save for web to make as small as possible.
  8. Work the text. New page size, no margins, place the images, move tables, black boxes, etc in place. (Further explained below.)
  9. Subdivide the INDD file. To get page breaks using the Kindle Indd Plugin (v 0.92) you need to create a book, and import chapters. This includes one for the first image, Front Matter, Dedication, Preface, TOC, Chapter 1-15, Appendix.
  10. Create text anchors. Once the anchors are made, then you can highlight text and point to the anchors you made. One anchor for each Section (no need for Chapters, as Section 1 will work for that, but include the items in TOC -- Preface, Footnotes, Glossary, etc.), one for each endnote chapter. Again, no spaces allowed in names.
  11. Create hyperlinks. Highlight text (ie: TOC items, footnotes) and then create hyperlinks.
  12. Proof. Create a .mobi file and have a look.
  13. Publish. Upload to and fill out all the info.
Apply italics to the file. Here I hope to explain this process a bit more.
  1. Define the character styles Small Caps and Italic with a keyboard shortcut. I use CTRL+4 for regular italics, CTRL+7 for small caps. With Find / Replace, search for anything italic, as per this image:
  2. This will find anything italic, even if it has a character style applied already. Click Find to jump to the next italic type, which will come up highlighted. Use your keyboard shortcuts to apply the correct character style to selected text. When verses are selected, don't do anything, just click FIND again.
  3. Sometimes a verse will be preceded or followed by italic text. This case you'll need to select just the text outside of the verses and apply the correct style.
GREP expressions used. Here are some expressions I've been using for cleaning up text. (These may or may not display correctly!!)
  • Find: ([\d \l\u]+ \d+:\d+.+?\r) Change to: \r$1 Formatting: Character Style [None] This will find the verse references and replace it with a paragraph return, formatted to Scripture References, and remove the Character style.
  • Find:  *?\t *? Change to: (space) This finds a tab and replaces it with a space.
  • Find: ([\d \l\u]+ \d+:\d+.+?)\r Formatting: epub-Scripture Reference --Applies the correct style to the Scripture References.
  • Find: ^\s+ Change to: (nothing) --finds any white space before paragraphs and deletes it.
  • Find: ~<?~e\s?(?=\d?\r) Change to: ~e --removes half-space before ellipsis at the end of a paragraph. 
  • Find: ^~e~<? Change to: ~e --removes the half-space after the ellipsis at the beginning of a paragraph. 
  • Find: (?<=.)~<?~e[~<+ +]?(?![\d\r) Change to: ~e(space) --removes half-spaces before / after ellipsis, and adds a space after.
Working Text Further explained.
  1. Things need to be done inline. Stories are exported as a whole, then it will come back to grab images, other text, and that will be placed after the story. What this means is images, tables, *notes, need to be placed withinside the text flow, so they will be places in the right place. With the text cursor in the right place, PLACE an image, table, etc. I use the epub-Box Header paragraph style, because it has no spacing, but is centered. 
  2. Neat Paragraph / Character Styles. Think these through and keep consistent. I have a set created, and just import that set in the new Indd file. Each style is preceded with "epub-" so I know the difference from the existing styles.
  3. Replace existing Styles. Delete the old styles, one by one, and apply the new "epub-" styles. Some you may not be able to do, because you aren't sure where they are used. No problem, just do the ones that make sense. You'll go through the document and find those in the next step.
  4. Check each paragraph. For me, I start at the end of the document. With the Mac laptop keyboard (desktop keyboard is spaced differently, a little more difficult) I use Command with my left pinky finger, ring finger over Option the middle finger resting above the left arrow key (like a place-holder) and pointer finger controls the up / down arrows. Command up keys will go up one paragraph at a time. When you find a paragraph that is non-standard (has the + sign by it), Option click on the correct paragraph style w/ right hand which is holding the mouse. NOTE: If the italics are not character styles, you will loose that formatting
  5. Look for unused Paragraph styles. This will let you know if you have all the old paragraph styles re-assigned or not. You can search for individual paragraph styles (similar to above search image) to speed things up.
This is a "brain drain", so it's not intended to be a final, finished, comprehensive instruction set. Rather, it's just to help me remember some of the steps used in making the .mobi files for the Kindle.

Unstacking what I stacked up yesterday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 0 Comments

When I was a kid on the farm, I used to ask my grandpa and uncles “What are you doing today?” In effort to avoid getting into details with a pesky kid, one day would be, “I’m going to stack what I unstacked yesterday.” And of course, on the next day would be the opposite. “I’m going to unstack what I stacked up yesterday!”

Well, here at GoodSeed, sometimes it feels like times haven’t changed, except for I’m the one stacking and unstacking! Yesterday we received extra boxes to re-pack some of the more damaged books on the previous book delivery, and I finished up going through them today. About 90 cartons were damaged, and in the end about 48 books were not re-sellable. Not a huge thing, and the printer has provided extra boxes and labels, as well as is planning on passing on the claims they receive from the shipping company. So we are in good shape. Thankful it worked out as well as it did.

Spanish books arrived!

Monday, April 18, 2011 0 Comments

This morning, bright and early, we received 3,000 copies of The Stranger in Spanish. Everything looks good and in good shape!

Drive home

Saturday, April 16, 2011 0 Comments

No pictures today, though it was warranted. But here’s a map of the trip…

Page, AZ to Green River UT

Friday, April 15, 2011 0 Comments

We left Page, AZ, stopped in 4 parks along the way. Monument Park, Natural Bridges National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park. It was short and quick, in and out, but still was a great time to see what God has done!

Heading home

Thursday, April 14, 2011 0 Comments

Vegas is over, Russ and I took a detour on the way home, spent the night in Page, AZ. Next time, Motel6!

Drive to Vegas

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 0 Comments

Russ and I drove to Vegas to attend the NAB convention (National Broadcast Association) to get a handle on the new technology, and see what’s happening in the video world.

Strangers -n- Apples

Thursday, April 07, 2011 0 Comments

The next print of the English Stranger books arrived today, but some were a little crunched in transit. The books are fine, just the boxes need to be replaces (extra space in the box doesn’t hold up sometimes!) And Tom and I went to prune Tina’s apple tree. It’s a little late, but hopefully not too much. We did take a lot off, and hopefully it will help out!

Spanish Strangers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 0 Comments

Proofs approved for the reprint of the Spanish Stranger!

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