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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
- Exporting KF8 (a Kindle Fire book) from your book in InDesign (bergsland.org)
- Digital books designed in InDesign look nothing like what they look like in an ereader (hackberry-fonts.com)