Monday, 19 July 2010

Howto go from Indesign CS4 to Amazon Kindle ...

So how did we get on with migrating printed documents to Amazon Kindle via Adobe's InDesign CS4?

This is a summary of the eventual route we took. It seems to work ok.

  1. We created new versions of the books in InDesign. The books and chapters are free standing copies away from the printed InDesign versions.
  2. We stripped out most of the formatting of text:
    a. Chapter titles were reduced in size
    b. Chapters were allowed on the next page (no odd/even setting)
    c. We removed page numbering from the books
    d. We removed the contents pages
    e. We assigned new ISBN codes on the verso pages
    f. We removed tables and converted to lists.
    g. We created new InDesign paragraph styles for the e-books; this helps to eliminate stray styles when you load the pages into the “template”. You delete the old style and assign one of the new e-styles.
    h. We eliminated special fonts like Drop Capitals at the start of each chapter.
  3. We set up the books to a page size roughly equivalent to the e-book display size so we could get a feel for how it will look on the eventual device.
  4. We exported to pdf for an eyeball check of the format of the new book.
  5. Once we'd worked out all of the formatting bugs, we exported the books to .epub format from InDesign CS4
  6. Then we imported the .epub book into Calibre software (fee/donateware) and converted it to the .mobi format using Calibre.
  7. We then used Amazon's (free) Kindle-for-PC viewer to view the converted .mobi book (Calibre). We scanned through each page looking for formatting problems. In some cases where we'd over-ridden a style in InDesign we'd find it would not accurately convert from the indd format to .epub. The over-ride formatting would be applied to the whole paragraph. We also found some corrupt characters; these seemed to be tied to left/righthand quotation marks in the original Microsoft Word documents, but it was not consistent and had not shown up when the books were printed. We needed to delve into the innards of the epub files to fix this; this is not as hairy as it sounds!
  8. The .epub file is essentially a bunch (directory) of HTML format files all compressed (zipped) together in one .epub file. If you can get at the HTML files you can edit them manually with HTML editing software (we used Dreamweaver software) and re-compress the files.
  9. First rename the file extension from .epub to .zip then double click on the resulting file name in windows explorer. Windows will offer an option to expand all. Accept that ant give it a suitable place to store the expanded files. Once that has been done follow the directory tree for the expanded document a couple of levels and look in the OEBPS where you'll find the XHTML files corresponding to each of the chapters/sections in the InDesign Book.
  10. Start up Dreamweaver, or similar editing tool, and load the XHTML file corresponding to the chapter you want to edit. Make the changes and save the file.
  11. Continue with each chapter needing change.
  12. Recompress the expanded directory to reform the .epub file. Change the file extension from .zip to .epub and you should then be able to reload the file into Calibre (go back to Step 6... until editing is fixed). Windows provides a free compression utility, from the file explorer right-click on the name of the directory you want to compress; select send to ... and chose the compression option.
  13. When you are satisfied with the .mobi output from Calibre, upload it (the .mobi file) toKindle, wait two days and your e-book will be ready for sale.

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