Kindle Formatting: It’s Not A Real Book

Formatting for Kindle is a drastically different beast than formatting for paperback or hardback.

Before you get snippy and have a Pinocchio moment about me calling your Kindle title “not a real book,” I need you to hold on and listen.

In the last lecture, we discussed how Mobi files contain packets of data to allow all kinds of Kindles to read and display your book. Well, think about how each of those Kindle models functions. Reflect on the varying size and shapes, the difference in screen resolution, the ability to zoom in/out, and all the other myriad features changed since Kindle’s inception.

Now, open a book. Open a newer book. Open an older book. The fonts may have changed. The paper might be thicker or thinner. But the FORMAT is relatively unchanged. The words don’t move around on the page. The page doesn’t change sizes.

Are you following where I’m going?

If you read a lot of Kindle books, you probably have pet-peeves. Ever noticed how some models won’t justify the text nicely across the screen for an entire paragraph, but instead, grow jagged after a few lines? Have you ever had to hunt down the rest of a decimal after the last numbers were shunted to the next line? Or how ’bout those em dashes? Those puppies are HUGE! There are a ton of formatting issues that Kindle doesn’t seem to know or care how to fix.

When I first started creating books for KDP, I had huge aspirations of making beautiful books with inset quotes and fancy fonts. I just knew if I tried hard enough I could make my Kindle books look like “real” books.

Yeah. Let that go.

Right now.

That’s not going to happen.

Have realistic expectations.

Even if you do format a file that looks stunning on a newer Kindle, there’s no way to tell everyone with an older Kindle that they’re not allowed to buy your book. There’s also no way to put multiple versions up for sale. So when Old Kindle Version Buyer opens your New Kindle Fancy Version on their Old Kindle, it’s going to look like crap-on-a-stick.

Let’s say you don’t care about that. It looks great on New Kindle Fancy Version, and that makes you happy. Today.

What about tomorrow when the Even Newer & Fancier Kindle Version comes out? Then your file will probably look craptastic on the Even Newer & Fancier Kindle Version, and you’ll be sad again.

So accept the reality of what Kindle formatting is:

BASIC.

What sells your book on Amazon then?

Content. A good cover. The right niche. Relevant keywords. Clean formatting.

Let’s go learn how to do that, shall we?

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