July 10th, 2012

Kindle Export Plug-in for InDesign CS6 Released!

I probably shouldn’t have put an exclamation mark on the title for I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. I’m still wading through the documentation. But I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

The CS6 plug-in

Here’s a quote from their Web page from which you can download the plug-in.

Kindle Plugin for Adobe InDesign® (Beta) is officially supported by Amazon to convert files to the Kindle format. We recommend you use Kindle Plugin for Adobe InDesign® (Beta) to create content that is compatible with all Kindle devices and apps. Files created with third-party software may not work properly on current or future Kindle devices and apps.

Highlights of Kindle Plugin functionality:

  • Seamless integration into InDesign
  • Direct conversion of InDesign file to a single file which supports both KF8 and Mobi formats
  • Easy export for most InDesign text formatting
  • Ability to adjust image quality
  • Adding and editing of metadata for Kindle books
  • Formatting for table of contents
  • Auto updates for future enhancements

Here’s what they say they support:

For paragraph formats, they support what we basically need:

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Bold Italic

Kindle Fire and Touch only support:

  • ALL CAPs
  • Small Caps
  • Baseline Shift
  • Drop Shadow
  • Outer Glow
  • Background Color
  • Custom Fonts

If these actually work, this is a big deal. Of course, if you have been reading my postings, you know I’ve been very disappointed to discover that even though Kindle Previewer does indeed show the embedded fonts, the upload process at  KDP strips them back out again. So, we’ll just have to see how it actually works.

Scaling and skewing are not supported at all [which is a good thing as far as I am concerned, as a font designer].

Paragraph style settings and Indents

  • Left indent
  • First line indent
  • Right indent
  • Space before (above)
  • Space after (below)
  • Font size and style
  • Alignment [left, right, center, and justify left]

Nothing new here.

Page Breaks

They now support the page break character. Multiple characters are ignored.

White Space Characters

You can use multiple “Non-Breaking Space” characters, or you can check the new ‘preserve consecutive white spaces and new lines’ box during export.

Embedded fonts [Kindle Fire and Touch]

These are now supported. Time will tell whether they are actually retained. Make sure you have a license which allows you to embed the fonts. This license does not come with a normal font purchase, or a normal Web font purchase. You need to specifically purchase a license for ebook use.

Watch your file size: You can bulk up your Kindle book and incur larger download charges.

Monospaced font

Kindle now has one which you can access by using Courier. Use the non-breaking space character to set up accurate code blocks, for example.

Tables [Kindle Fire and Touch]

Let me just quote Amazon’s PDF:

With KF8, you can now format tables with a variety of options such as border weight, border styles and border stroke colors. Paragraph formatting options such as alignment and margins and table formatting options such as space before and space after will also be honored. You can also specify background color for cells, alignment of text within cells and cell inset spacing. The formatting described here will not be retained in the Mobi format.

Basically, it says you can do most of what InDesign enables, but it will only show up in Kindle Fire and Touch.

Nested Tables are NOT supported.

Try this with care.

Boxed elements [Kindle Fire and Touch]

Another addition in KF8 is the ability to have boxed elements for displaying prominent information. To create a boxed element, add the text to a new text frame. Then select the text frame using the selection tool and set a border weight from the Tools menu. You can also set the border and background color using the Stroke and Fill color.

It says you can also use rounded corners. However, even in the PDF from Amazon, the insets are gone and the text cannot be selected in the box with the rounded cornered. This tells me that they are rasterizing the borders (maybe). Test these things carefully.

Lists [Kindle Fire and Touch]

They claim to support all InDesign options, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.

Characters accessed with OpenType features are dropped. Custom font characters download the entire font (though they hint at a way to just include a character.

Drop Caps [Kindle Fire and Touch]

Supports InDesign’s options with the already listed font limitations.

It does have a dialog in the export process to let you set your CSS specs because special fonts need special spacing. I suspect that this one takes more work than I’ll ever do. But, it’s all in the documentation.

Table of Contents

Supposedly they do whatever you need. You can also build a custom TOC with your own hand-built links. I’ll wait and see, but they now support the paragraph styles we normally use for TOCs.

Images

Basically, nothing is changed here. I recommend that you place all images inline. Here’s Amazon’s word on it:

The Kindle platform supports GIF, BMP, JPEG, PNG images in your content. Vector graphics are not supported and should be converted to raster graphics using one of the supported image formats. The size limit for images is 127KB. Below this limit, all images will be exported unaltered while above this limit, images will be automatically optimized to be under the size limit during conversion.

That is straight forward enough. Floating graphics are done at your own risk. They are processed separately from the text.

Here’s another warning from Amazon about images with text:

For images containing a lot of text, using the GIF format is recommended so that the sharpness and legibility of the text is retained. Since an image is always displayed completely on the screen, image resolution should be constrained to a maximum of 500×600 so that the image is not scaled, making it hard to read. Minimum font size should be such that a lower-case “a” is at least 6 pixels tall. You can reduce the number of colors used in an image to optimize it’s size or split the image horizontally to keep it under the size limit. It is highly recommended that automatic optimization by KindleGen be avoided in case of images containing text.

Cover image

It’s required and it needs to be exactly 600×800. In the past JPEGs were virtually required. I use Photoshop’s Export for Web command to get that I need after I set up my images exactly to spec.

It’s all pretty straight forward. The Publishing guidelines are linked off the plug-in page. My basic design recommendations remain that same, modified only by what you see above. You can get that booklet, Converting your print book to ePUB & Kindle versions: Using InDesign CS5.5 & CS6, on Amazon in Kindle for $2.99 or in print for $7.77 [I'll need to do a new version once I work out the kinks in the new plug-in].

 

 

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18 comments to Kindle Export Plug-in for InDesign CS6 Released!

  • srikanth

    Hi,

    Nested tables are supported by kindle plugin. I just created one and exported the same using the plugin. Also regarding insets within box, I just selected the text frame with border greater than 1px and added insets using “Text Frame Options>Inset Spacing”. This worked too.

    Thanks,
    Srikanth

  • Excellent! The documentation says they do not. I haven’t had time to test. Thanks for the input.

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  • hi:

    I have converted to mobi using Indesign. I have a desktop Kindle app for my mac and when I open the file it looks good. Fonts are there because they are installed on my computer. When I send it to my iPad it is all messed up. So does the plugin embed or not or what am I doing wrong. During the process to convert it shows me the fonts it is embedding.

  • I have exactly the same problem. Embedded fonts only work on the Fire. Non of the desktop or tablet apps support embedded fonts. It’s a major problem. If you find someone to talk to at Amazon, bug them. I haven’t found anyone.

  • Natraj

    I have converted a word file to Kindle by using the Kindlegen. I have used word wrapping around an image and it looks good on the desktop Kindle app for my PC.

    When I send it to my iPad it is all messed up and only one word is wrapped around the picture. Any idea how to overcome this

  • The Kindle app on iPad is very limited.

  • Sorry I responded so quickly. To fix this you’ll need to crack the ePUB and fix the code. Liz Castro shows how in her book “EPUB Straight to the Point”. I don’t do code. If I can’t make it work straight out of InDesign I do not use that feature. Most of it is solved when you realize that you are using 72 dpi images so you better be using 600 pixel wide images to get enough detail to be able to see the image. You do not have to worry about text wraps on full frame width images.

  • Natraj

    Thanks, David.
    I am publishing a technical book with lots of images and tables.

    I had read earlier in one of the Kindle self publishing guidelines that the images should be around 800 pixels wide. Hence, I redrew all images to be around this size. So, like you pointed out – there is no need in this size.

    However, when i was reading the Kindle publishing guidelines for Indesign plug-in, it says that images should be 500 to 600 pixels wide. So I am now confused. Which will ultimately look good in the final Kindle version.

    Also, is the Kindle app for Mac a good simulator for the actual version.

  • The 500×600 pixel size surprised me also, but I’ve learned to just do what they ask. Also make sure your JPEG is less than 127K or they will “Optimize it”. I just uploaded a book with 120 images all sized to 600 pixels wide [I kept them less than 500 pixels tall] and I had no trouble that I know of.

    I use the Kindle Previewer to check out my KF8 files. That’s the best I have (without buying a Kindle Fire [which I do not want]). It seems to work fine. At least I’ve heard no complaints.

  • I self-published a print book last year using InDesign CS3 (tough learning curve that!) and it came out well. I want to upgrade to CS6 (not cloud) and basically want to know if Kindle have a plug-in for CS6 and will my new 240 p. book of my art convert to eBook form. The files are huge and the ID file is at 1.7GB and 180 pages. My understanding is that when KDP converts the print book, the file sizes are downsized to screen resolution.
    What immediate problems will I face with CS6 vs Kindle? And, will CS6 handle files done in CS3?
    Thanks, Jim

  • CS6 should be able to open CS3 files. The largest problem is converting all your graphics so they are 600 pixels wide @ 72 dpi. Kindle will only take files that are 127K. If they are larger than that Amazon will resample them and ruin them. You want to do the resampling yourself in Photoshop. You can make them look as good as possible.

    The Kindle Export Plug-in for CS6 works very well.

  • Using these numbers, a max image size on the page would be (e.g.) 4″ x 2″ at 72 dpi (121.5K). This is no good for a book say, 8″ x 10″, the images would be way too small.(?) I will have over 200 images to convert in PS.

    Thanks for your prompt reply, David

    Jim

  • Thanks for the information. I am diving into the world of ebooks. I want it to be able to be read on Kindle. My book is a short children’s book with large pictures and little text at the bottom. I do not want this text be be flowable text. whenever I export it, it keeps the text formatting on the device. Is my best bet to put text onto my image in photoshop, flatten all and save as a GIF? Or is there a better way?

  • PDF is definitely the best for this. The are fixed-layout ePUBs, but I do not know how well they embed fonts. I haven’t tried one yet.