We’ve come to realise that for many authors having a book formatted and published as a kindle book is very counter-intuitive, so we decided to write about it to make the whole thing a little easier to understand.
An important thing to remember is that you have to let go some of your control. One of the prime benefits for readers of e-books is that they get to control the experience. This means that a reader sets up the device he is using, an Amazon Kindle in this instance, with their own preferences. They choose what font to display text in, how large the text should be, whether the text is aligned left or fully justified and so on. When your book is loaded onto the device they are using, those preferences can be used in place of the ones that were used to prepare the book. In addition, the device itself can influence how the book looks, with Kindle software being available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad etc and each one displays things just a little differently.
The kindle format has two main branches. The one is a fixed format that tries to shoe-horn the format of the book into a rigid display as close to the original as possible. The other, preferred branch, is a flowing option where all the elements are tagged and given default values, but adjust themselves depending on the device being used, the size of the screen and its orientation. This second branch is the one that we use and recommend that others do too.
Fortunately, the available formatting elements in ebooks hasn’t been static. It has improved over the years to a position now where it is not only the headings and text that can be included in this flowing format, but foot/end notes and images that are embedded in the text layout.
Many authors are concerned about images included in their books being in the correct place and with the correct size and appearance. It is possible to include the images embedded in the text, but when they are displayed their placing and sizing will be adjusted to match the flow and formatting of the book on the particular device. One benefit of this is that images can be in color when viewed on a device that supports it, and yet in black and white when not.
We’ve included here some samples to illustrate what we mean.
These images show the “About the Author” page from one of our books displayed on different devices. The name of the device is at the top of the image. As you can see, on this page there is a little text and two images which are designed to be right aligned to the text with the text flowing down the page to the left. In some there is not enough space to display the image next to the text, so it is placed on its own in the centre of the page. On the iPhone screen, this becomes two pages. Also remember that on most devices it is possible to “click on” (or touch) the image to view a larger version which fills the screen and then return to the text.