Sunday, November 4, 2012

A New Guide

This is a BLOG for my new Kindle guide to FORMAT Kindle books.

 Here is the Introduction


Do I Need to Read this Chapter?

This Guide is in essence an update on our 2011 book The Bible on Word to Kindle - Book 1. The reason for the upgrade is that Amazon have changed the Formatting Rules, essentially to accommodate the new Kindle Fire.
It is called “2013 READY” to say that it is NOT a guide to the very complex and (intentionally) mysterious “version 8” but merely an account of the Amazon changes to the “Traditional” method of building a Kindle book, using Word.
So if you don't want to know any of the background, whys and wherefores then by all means skip to the next chapter.

What is the Kindle Fire?

There have been several versions of "devices" on which to render and read Kindle books, both portable (stand alone, purpose built) devices and Readers that reside on your PC or Mac computer.
The Kindle Fire departs from that progression in that it is not a purpose built book reading device but a multi purpose Android or Tablet device, in which there is a book reader (among the normal selection of other "Apps").
The fact that the Fire book reader is now in color is not in itself a reason to change the Formatting Rules, so it can be deduced that the purposes behind the changes are the normal commercial marketing issues.

Is the Fire a Replacement for Previous Devices?

There is no indication that Amazon intends to phase out the "ink" type Kindle devices, and in fact, although the ink does not display in color, there are definite advantages in readability in daylight conditions afforded by the ink display over the Fire (and all similar Tablet devices).

Why then Change the Traditional Formatting Rules?

It seems that the answer is simply to make formatting Rules that produce a superior result on all devices.

Does that Now Exclude the Novice Indie from DIY Formatting?

The TRUE answer is emphatically NO, but those going under the quaint misnomer of ITProfessionals that will seize on any event to make money (even make an event UP in the case of Y2K) will say YES, especially with Y3K so far away.
Their deception has been helped enormously by Amazon introducing an alternative "Multi Media" style of formatting, which has no benefits at all for the normal Indie Author who wants to publish a book (with or without images).

Is there a Happy Ending?

Yes, as long as you AVOID those trying to sell you Multi Media features at "cost ya an arm and a leg" prices, the upgraded Word to Kindle route (the subject of this book) is now better than ever, and perhaps even EASIER to understand and employ.

What are the Changes?

The main change is that we go from NOT using "CSS" to USING CSS and not html tags. That may sound rather scary for those determined NOT to use html and especially not CSS, but the emphatic good news is that it is all done FOR you (in Word), as long as you learn to make the small change of method described in this book.

Can you Explain Please?

The former system was designed with total simplicity in mind, but the resulting "one size fits all" format was not to everyone's liking. Let me take the first line indent as an example. In the Kindle Guide (and my Book #1) the clear message was WE (ie Amazon) are going to do the indent FOR you so PLEASE do not do anything at all - just start typing in DEFAULT Normal Style, no tab, no space, no fiddling with icons up top.
Of course people, being people, did nothing of the sort but rather took notice of "the lady on UTube that has a tutorial" etc etc. So we had all those "dog's breakfast" books with indents all over the place.
For their part, Amazon Guide tried to cater for those who were dead set sold on using their OWN indent so they told us how to do it as an html tag - not CSS but a tag. More dog's breakfasts!
Then all of a sudden Amazon started the change-over but were way too busy to tell us, so one had to do a discovery tour of trial and error to come to grips with the change-over.
Then, after the event, they released Building Your Book for Kindle to confirm what we had discovered already that we now MUST define the indent ourselves (because Word/Kindle is not going to do it FOR us). And ditto for all those other issues like line spacing etc.
All this means is that instead of observing that Default Style (eg in Normal Style) is somehow sacred, we now CUSTOMISE Styles (even Normal Style) to suit the book we are formatting, and furthermore, Word can remember your custom settings so that the next book you do will be "ready formatted" before you start (or of course you can alter your custom settings for another book if you wish). And all that is done via CSS (at the Kindle end, once saved as html).

What IS CSS, and does it Come with Fries?

I thought you were going to skip this chapter to avoid any "commercial controversy". Well it is "Cascading Style Sheets". Ever notice that all the commercial web sites on the internet look the same, ie boring as bat poo? That is because they ARE all the same, and at the bottom of this is a file called boringas.css which the Y2KProfessionals all share around and plug in to their clients' web sites. Saves having to be inventive - or professional.
However the CSS we are talking about for Kindle neither cascades, nor is it a sheet. When Word saves itself as html it creates code on the same sheet (html file) as the text. Put simply it takes whatever Style you did in Word and converts it to html Style. It's like a Style Interchange, but the beautiful part is you don't have to worry a thing about even looking at this funny code in the html file AS LONG AS you obeyed the Rules in Word as set out in the rest of this book.

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