Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Kindle Publishing Guidelines released (Kindle Fire included)

The Kindle Fire tablet that was released in 2011 displays full-color images, unlike the previous Kindle ereaders. In addition, the images can cover the screen as opposed to having a white border around them. As a picture book author-illustrator, I’ve been interested to find out how easy or difficult it may prove to be to prepare picture books for the Fire. Finally, the publishing guidelines have been released. This email came yesterday from Amazon's Kindle publishing team:

“We’re pleased to announce that Kindle Publisher Tools with Kindle Format 8 (KF8) support are now available for download. Kindle Format 8 is Amazon’s next generation file format offering a wide range of new features and enhancements – including HTML5 and CSS3 support that publishers can use to create all types of books. KF8 adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including drop caps, numbered lists, fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics - opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love. Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 - in the coming months KF8 will be rolled out to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps.

Publishers have created thousands of KF8 titles already and customers are enjoying the improved formatting and reading features across all types of books. Additionally, KF8 features such as Kindle Panel Views and Kindle Text Pop Up enable great fixed layout books including graphic novels, comics and children’s books. We’ve updated our Kindle Publishing Guidelines to help publishers get started with Kindle Format 8. 

Please download the new versions of KindleGen ( and Kindle Previewer ( to get started today. More information about KF8, Kindle Publishing Tools & Guidelines can be found at

For Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) users, KDP is ready to receive your KF8 books. In addition to accepting books in the KF8 format, KDP is releasing a new KDP Simplified Formatting Guide to help you take advantage of the new features offered by KF8. Go to for more information on publishing KF8 books via KDP.”

The section about fixed layout children's books (i.e. picture books) starts on page 23 of the Guidelines PDF. I’ve only scanned it, but it appears to require HTML coding, as opposed to the process for text-oriented ebooks, which can utilize InDesign, Word, and other programs. (Sigh.) Hopefully someone will create an app for the Fire analogous to the Book Creator app for the iPad. (Here is my post about using Book Creator.)

According to the Guidelines, Amazon has not yet released the additional instructions that will be required to create graphic novels, manga, and comic ebooks. Though I'm only speculating, the reason may have something to do with the ability to read the text, which is typically part of the image in comics et al. My reason for thinking that is that the guidelines for fixed layout books have an option called "region magnification," which allows the user to enlarge selected areas by double-tapping:
I haven’t played with a Kindle Fire so am wondering if this is an alternative to zooming? It seems to me that a better solution (at least for picture books) would be to use a font that is large enough to begin with…just saying. I could be totally mistaken, but I can't find any online discussion about it. Anyway, I’m not going to be tackling this anytime soon; if anyone out there working on a picture book or other image-oriented book for the Kindle Fire, please leave a comment.

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  1. Thanks for posting this, Loreen. I haven't played with a Kindle fire either... but it's good to have the info.

  2. I've read plenty of comics using the "region magnification". The function isn't used because the words are too small. Think of it in the same way as the kindle let's the reader adjust the font size and brightness. They don't let you adjust because the screen isn't bright enough. The magnification is just a standard option nowadays when reading comic books. Have to have it.