Creating a Free Kindle-Compatible eBook: Part 5

June 23, 2012
Author Article Book Technology

5. Deploying the Book

We have now reached the 5th and final part of this series-for now! this is how to deploy your eBook.

Some PCs seem to recognize .prc files as if there is something wrong with them. For that reason, you will probably find it easier to deploy your eBook in a zip file.

Although Windows 7 has a zip routine of its own, I usually use an open source application called 7zip, because this gives a smaller filesize. Right-click on the .prc file and choose either to send it to an archive, or, if you have 7zip, use the 7zip context menu to wrap it up as a .zip file.

3D eBookYou might also find it useful to make an interesting 3D image of your book, even though it does not actually exist as a real, physical entity. You can do this for free at the website: http://3d-pack.com/

On their site, select Book. Find files for the front cover and the spine-you will not really need a file for the back of the book. Then click the Create 3D button, and viola! You have a nice 3D image to download. I recommend you download it as a .png. I then use GIMP to erase the annoying copyright notice that the site puts on the image. This file can now be uploaded to my website, to use on the page where I will deploy the eBook.

It should now be easy to upload your .zip file to your server. If you are using Wordpress, this can be done through the back end, using the Media option. It also gives you the opportunity to store some information about the file. Some people, however, have started using cloud options, like Google Drive. Google Drive would enable you to upload your file, then make it a public share.

The users to whom you are sending the file may not be as used to manipulating downloaded files as you are. Remember that Kindles normally have a very easy method of delivery; they simply download books via Whispernet using either WiFi or 3G. So, to make your book usable, you will need to give your users some easy instructions. Here they are!

Download the zip file, by clicking on the link. Double-click on the zip file and extract the book as a .prc file. You now have two methods of getting this on the Kindle.

Method 1

Amazon have given you a special email address for your Kindle. You will find it on the Manage your Kindle page on Amazon's site, under Manage your Devices. Simply send an email to this special address, attaching the prc file to the email. After a couple of minutes, your book should be available on the Home page on your Kindle.

Method 2

Attach your Kindle to your PC by its USB cable. When the folder options pop up, select the option to open the folder. Then double-click on the Documents folder of the Kindle. With another explorer box, find your .prc file and copy it. Paste it into your Kindle Documents folder. When you detach the Kindle and check the Home button, your new book should appear.

You should display instructions like this prominently on the page or post where you are offering your eBook.

All that remains now is for you to try out making a Kindle-compatible eBook. If it seems a little time consuming at first, it is worth the effort, because it adds considerable value to your site.

Is It Worth It?

Now that we have got through 5 parts, you might want to ask “Is it worth it?” More to the point, couldn’t we just make a PDF file much more simply?

Well, of course PDFs are easier to make. But they are harder to view on a machine. They look awful on Kindles and often have a typeface much too small. PDFs are really not for eBooks, but for delivering electronic files for printing purposes. Your website guests will use up a lot of ink, if you produce something that they have to print, yet so many free PDF eBooks that I have seen make no sense unless printed. If you produce a Kindle-compatible product, then your guests are going to find it easier to handle. Yes, it is definitely worth the effort, because you are adding so much value to your readers’ experience.

Note for the future

Amazon has, irritatingly, recently announced that it is moving away from the Mobi format, and introducing a very different AZW 8 format. This format is currently being used on Kindle Fires, but will also soon be available with software updates on electronic-ink Kindles. But don't panic – they have to make sure their Kindles are backwards compatible. Users would hate it if their old books suddenly would not work.

Nevertheless, I will soon have to make a new tutorial, on making the new style Kindle eBooks. Amazon have released a command line program to make the files, but I expect that third-party developers will use the API to develop applications to handle the conversion better. I will be testing these, and will come back with new instructions when ready.

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