Learn About eBooks

Resources for eBook Developers

Below are some resources that we think will help others in the eBook production community. Please feel free to download the sample files, visit the various websites, and let us know if you have some ideas for other resources we can link to.

General

  • ePrdctn.org  eBook Production wiki, with examples, bugs, hacks, and other important eBook Creation information.
  • #eprdctn  Twitter hashtag used to mark tweets related to eBook production. This is a great resource for eBook developers.
  • eBook Ninjas  Our (almost) weekly eBook news and commentary podcast
  • TeleRead  eBook news blog
  • The Digital Reader  eBook news blog
  • MobileRead  Forums, wiki, and other helpful information

eBook files used for testing

Tools

If you are looking for an easy way to run ePubCheck or KindleGen on files in Windows, you can create a batch file (like “ePubCheck.bat”), put the proper DOS command into the file pointing to the correct location and name of the ePubCheck or KindleGen program, and just drop files onto it. For examples, download the batch scripts for ePubCheck and KindleGen here and open them in a text editor like Notepad.

ePub

Kindle

  • Kindle Publishing Pprtal  Amazon’s list of resources and information on the creation of Kindle eBooks. We highly recommend you read the Kindle Publishing Guidelines.
  • Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide  Joshua’s guide to creating eBooks in the older Mobipocket 7 eBook format
  • Kindle Apps  links to all of the applications that read Kindle books from Amazon

Self-publishing

FAQs

Is it a good idea to put my Table of contents at the end of my eBook?

Some people do this to increase the size of the free samples automatically generated by the eBook retailers. However, the Kindle and other devices will re-set the “last read location” to the end of the book if you have your Table of Contents there, so we normally recommend against that practice.

What is the difference between HTML5 and XHTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of the HTML standard used on the Web and in eBooks. XHTML5 is a stricter and cleaner version of HTML5, with rules from XML imposed on the code. For example, when a tag is opened it has to be closed, and all of the tags have to be properly nested. XHTML5 allows the code to be more easily interpreted by the display engine, and it keeps the code more consistent and easier to edit.

I have heard you can’t use color in eBooks. Is that correct?

No, that is absolutely incorrect. eBooks look great with color, and we highly recommend using color images and even colored text (within reason) in your eBook files. Some devices have grayscale eInk screens, so the color will not show up on those devices. However, the color will be in the file, and it will work on all of the color devices. We do recommend you test colored text on a device with an eInk screen and ensure that the text will not be too light to read.

Do you need to have a separate ISBN for each version of the eBook for different companies?

Technically, yes. See an extended answer on our ISBNs page.

What is KindleGen?

KindleGen is Amazon’s eBook creation/compiling program. It is used on the KDP website to auto-convert files uploaded into the Kindle store, and it is also integrated into the Kindle Previewer program to handle the conversion of non-Kindle files loaded in that program. You can download KindleGen and get access to other Kindle creation information at amazon.com/kindlepublishing.

What is a fixed layout eBook?

Fixed Layout eBooks are HTML-based eBook files that are usually designed to match the layout of a print book. The key difference between fixed layout files and reflowable files is that reflowable eBooks allow the reader to have more control over the reading experience, such as changing the font size, background color, etc. For more information, please see our Fixed Layout Children’s and Non-Fiction pages.

Does Amazon sell HTML files or only Kindle?

Amazon only sells eBooks in the Kindle format, but that format, just like ePub, is built using HTML and CSS files.

How is fixed layout different from a pdf of the book?

Fixed layout eBooks are built using HTML, so they have more functionality than PDF files. For example, the narration overlay functionality used in many children’s eBooks is not possible in PDF files. In addition, none of the eBook retailers sell PDFs, so fixed layout eBook files offer the best sales opportunities.

A university librarian told me they are not acquiring any Kindle books but only HTML5/ePub. Have you found that to be common with other libraries? I know our local public library does buy Kindle books.

Libraries acquire their eBooks from services like 3M and Overdrive. These services sometimes offer an option for Kindle checkouts, but typically they are limited to ePub files because of the more common use of the Adobe DRM.

Has the Kindle format gotten any more sophisticated in how it handles tables or floating images?

Yes, Amazon’s Kindle Format 8 has support for many great design features, including floating images, tables, color text, embedded fonts, and more.

Do the eBook files you create include a linked Table of Contents?

Yes, all of our files include the proper linking for the Table of Contents, index, and other elements.

How are page numbers handled in an eBook?

Print book page numbers are included in the HTML code of both the Kindle and ePub formats as anchors. They are also listed in the PageList section of the NCX or Navigation file. The PageList is used by some reading systems (like the Kindle and iBooks) to show the reader the print page numbers of the book as they read.

How are page headers created in eBook files?

The different reading systems control what shows up in the header of your eBook. Most will display the title of the book, and some will also display the author name. That text cannot currently be set to display the chapter name or other information about where the reader is currently reading in the text.

How do eBooks handle hyphenation of long words?

Some eBook reading systems will apply hyphenation to longer words to make the text better fit on the screen. This is typically controlled by the reading system, and will change depending on the font size and other settings the reader has set on their device.

What about protecting the file?

eBook file protection is called Digital Rights Management (DRM). Please see our DRM page for information on how it works and suggestions on how to use it.

Do you build websites?

No, eBook Architects does not currently build websites. We recommend you contact a local website design company or use a service like Squarespace.

Can I sell my eBooks on my own website?

Yes! You are certainly able to sell your eBooks on your own website. For more information, please see this page.