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Content Specifications

It is imperative the files you submit are complete in every way, in order to ensure we have everything we need to bring your project to completion. Please follow the guidelines below when preparing your files, and contact us if you have any questions.

Interior Files

We primarily accept Word documents (.doc or .docx), PDF files, InDesign Files, and print books. In addition, we sometimes accept content in other formats like ePub, XML, or HTML. The key with any submission is that we have what we need to complete the creation of your eBook files. To that end, let’s talk about some common scenarios we run into.

  • Word document manuscripts: If your book is still in manuscript form, you will need to do a few things to prepare the file for eBook development. First, make sure the file has been copy edited and proofread. That is an important step in any publishing process, and we highly recommend it be done on every book. If you need assistance with that process, we are happy to give you a quote from our freelance copy editor. Second, add all of the front matter and back matter to your book file. You should have, at minimum, a title page and a copyright page. You may also want to add a preface, endorsements, about the author, glossary, index, or other sections, depending on the type of book you have written. Third, ensure that the formatting of the file is how you would like it to appear in the eBooks. This does not have to include extensive layout design, adding fonts, or anything else overly complex, it just needs to include basic formatting like bold, italics, proper headings, and paragraph indentation, etc. If you are unable to complete the formatting, we are happy to provide you with a quote for additional design services. Note: Please be sure to accept all of your tracked changes before uploading your file for a quote.
  • PDF files: Many clients come to us with PDF files, and that is a great format in which to submit your book. PDF files retain their formatting regardless of the computer, making them great starting points for our development processes. Please be sure to save your PDF file in press quality with images that are not compressed or degraded. We definitely prefer to start with high-quality images, and if any of the images might appear blurry or pixelated on the reading systems, we will inform you when quoting the project. Lastly, be sure your PDF does not have any security settings turned on, as that will prevent us from extracting content from it.
  • InDesign files: We do not typically accept InDesign files unless the formatting or text complexity of the book requires that we extract the content from that original source. Please create a print-quality PDF file and submit that to us, and feel free to let us know if you have an InDesign file that we can request if needed. If we request an InDesign file, please zip up the entire file and all linked assets. Our system will accept large files, so there is typically no need to send these files through a different file upload service.
  • Print book: If you do not have digital files to send to us, we are happy to scan and digitize your print book. Our scanning and OCR process is the best in the industry. You can read more about the process we use on these print book projects here.
  • ePub or Kindle files: Some clients come to us with ePub and Kindle files that were created by a conversion house or exported from a program like InDesign or calibre. We are happy to evaluate these kinds of files to see if they will work as a starting place for our processes, but we typically prefer to work with the original source files whenever possible. Please upload both the ePub/Kindle file and the source PDF or Word doc when you request your quote so that we can see what files will be best to use. Also, please note that unless otherwise indicated we do not make adjustments or fix issues in eBook files created by other companies or using automation programs. We will ingest the files into our own process, strip out all of the extraneous code, and create new, valid, well-designed eBook files for you.
  • Quark files: Due to limitations in the Quark extraction process, we do not accept Quark files for any project. Please create a PDF file and submit that to us.
  • XML or HTML files: We are happy to evaluate XML and other markup files to see if they are a good starting point for the eBook development process. As with other formats, we would like to have a reference PDF to use when implementing the eBook design.

Cover Images

We need to receive a cover image along with the interior file in order to develop your eBook. If you do not have a professionally designed cover image yet, please contact us for information about our cover design services. If you have a cover file from the print edition, we can definitely use that. In these instances the dimensions below only pertain to the front cover, not the back cover or interior images. Due to the nature of eBooks, we will not include the back cover in your eBook unless you specifically request it.

  • File type: PDF, JPG, PNG, TIFF
  • File name: Please name the file “cover.*” before uploading
  • Color: RGB (CMYK is not allowed)
  • File size: Each image file must be less than 10 MB
  • Dimensions: At least 1500px on the shortest side
  • Transparency: None
  • Orientation: Portrait is best. Some distributors, like BookBaby, will reject square or landscape cover images.

Interior Images

The following guidelines apply to interior images in standard reflowable eBooks.

  • File type: JPG or PNG
  • File names: Remove spaces and special characters from file names, and create useful file names (based on page number, order in book, etc.)
  • Color: RGB (CMYK is not allowed)
  • File size: Each image file must be less than 10 MB
  • Dimensions: Large images and photos should be delivered with 2000px on the long side. Small images (accent images) should normally be between 200px and 800px on the long side.
  • Transparency: We highly recommend that you provide us with images that have a transparent background. Transparency works on most devices, but we may change the transparency to a solid white in some instances.

Fonts

Before providing us with specific font files for use in your book, please be sure to read our information on eBook Fonts, as well as our information on Embedded Fonts. The files you send to us must use the following specs:

  • Fonts for EPUB 2 and/or KF8 must be True Type (*.ttf) or Open Type (*.otf).
  • Fonts for EPUB 3 must by Open Type (*.otf) or WOFF (*.woff).
  • PostScript and platform-specific fonts are not allowed.
  • All fonts must be Unicode. If special characters in your font change to “a”, “b”, “c”, etc. when you switch to a different font, you are probably not using an Unicode font. Let us know if you have questions about this.
  • You MUST have the proper licenses for all of the fonts you ask us to use. We do not research licenses, and you agree to not hold us responsible if you use a font that does not have proper licensing. This is a MAJOR issue, and one that can cost you thousands of dollars in court costs. Please do not take this lightly.
  • If you are unable to verify that you have the proper embedding license for your fonts, we recommend replacing them with alternate fonts. Please see the Embedded Fonts page for more information.
  • With the exception of the fonts we offer on our Embedded Fonts page, you must provide us with the actual font files you want us to use. We do not purchase, download, or provide any other fonts for your eBook files.

Children’s Fixed Layout eBooks

If you have a children’s book, please see this page for information on how these eBooks work, and feel free to give Joshua a call to discuss your project. We will need the following files to create your eBooks:

  • The final, high-resolution PDF file showing exactly how you want the eBooks to look. We will primarily use this file to see how the eBooks should be laid out. We will also use this PDF to create the B&N (NOOK Kids) eBook file, so if you have a specific ISBN or other information for that version, please include that information in the PDF.
  • Artwork without text for each individual page, 300dpi, RGB, at least 1800px on the long side. All images should be sized to the same dimensions.
  • Cover images (front and back) with all text incorporated, without barcodes, prices, or other print-specific information, according to the same specs as the artwork images.
  • Text for the book in a Word document, split by page number.
  • Optional Back of Book Promo image for the last page in the Barnes & Noble eBook file.
  • ISBNs for each format (required for Apple, not for Amazon or B&N)
  • For Narration files, you will need to include the following, if you would like to take advantage of the Read-To-Me feature in iBooks:
    • Audio, according to the embedded audio spec shown in the Audio Specs below.
    • CSV time stamp file. Please note, we can create this for you, for an additional fee.

If you would like to just get an estimate on the cost of a Children’s eBook project, you are welcome to upload a PDF file first and provide these other files later.


Embedded Video and Audio

Please note the following general rules regarding embedded media:

  • Embedded video and audio only works in certain devices.
  • Note that Amazon and B&N both require you to have a publisher account to sell enhanced eBook files; you are not able to use their KDP or PubIt! self-publishing services.
  • Every video must be accompanied by a poster frame image following the specs outlined below.
  • The total file size of the final eBook file should, ideally, be under 500MB, including any media you want embedded and the text/images of the eBook itself. Some retailers will allow larger files, but consumers may balk at having to download a 2GB eBook file on an 8GB tablet. It is best to reduce the quality of your video or audio in order to bring the file size down under these limits.
  • Please see the Enhanced eBooks page for more information on device support and instructions on getting your media-enhanced eBook up for sale.

Video

Please submit your video files according to the following specifications. The Standard Definition/Single Source option represents the lowest common denominatior and allows one video file to be used in all reading systems that have video support. You are also welcome to submit High Definition videos specifically for the Apple iBooks platform.

Standard Definition/Single Source
  • File Encoding: H.264
  • File Names: Remove spaces and special characters from file names, and create useful file names (e.g., “video1″, “video2″, etc.)
  • File Extension: *.mp4
  • Variable Bit Rate: 10 Mbps
  • Frame rate: Native, no more than 30fps
  • Dimensions: 720×480 or 853×480 encoded pixels; for display at either 640×360 for 16:9 content or 640×480 for 4:3 content
  • Audio: Stereo, AAC/MP4, 256-320Kbps
  • Special instructions: The video must open and close with one black frame.
High-Definition (Apple iBooks only)
  • File Encoding: H.264
  • File Extension: *.mp4
  • File Names: Remove spaces and special characters from file names, and create useful file names (e.g., “video1″, “video2″, etc.)
  • Variable Bit Rate: ~220 Mbps
  • Frame rate: Native, no more than 30fps
  • Dimensions: 1920×1080 square pixel aspect ratio
  • Audio: Stereo, AAC/M4A, 256-320Kbps
  • Special instructions: The video must open and close with one black frame.
Poster Frame Images

All videos must have a poster frame image (the image that displays on the page when the video is not playing). The “Play” button will be automatically superimposed over the image, so please exclude this from your poster frame images.

  • File type: PNG
  • File names: Must be the same as the related video (e.g., “video1.png” goes with “video1.mp4″)
  • Color: RGB (CMYK is not allowed)
  • Dimensions: 300px wide by 150px tall (add letterboxing as necessary to create images with these exact dimensions)
  • File size: Each image file must be less than 300kb
  • Transparency: Allowed

Audio

  • File Compression: AAC/M4A (Apple and B&N); MP3 (Amazon)
  • File Extension: *.m4a/*.mp3
  • File Names: Remove spaces and special characters from file names, and create useful names (e.g., “audio1″, “audio2″, etc.)
  • Bit Rate: 256-320 kbps (higher number = larger file size/better quality)
  • Sampling rate: 8-48 kHz (higher number = larger file size/better quality)
  • Channels: Stereo, not mono

As always, if you have any questions or your files do not match the above guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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.

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.

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.