Author Topic: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files  (Read 4054 times)  

Offline Triceratops

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Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
« on: October 05, 2020, 07:10:43 am »
In short: Amazon now doesn't want mobi files, they want epub files. So if you use Vellum, you need to go into your settings and change the output (for Amazon) to "epub for Kindle." If you don't see that setting, you need to update your Vellum.

There's not much consistency on Amazon's side, so far. Some people claim they are uploading mobi files just fine. Others are reporting they are encountering difficulties.

But, Amazon now says "We recommend submitting EPUB files for publishing reflowable content. MOBI is not recommended for reflowable content. Kindle Previewer is the best way to validate your EPUB content before publishing. We no longer recommend sideloading eBooks to devices for testing. Sideloading does not provide an accurate preview of Enhanced Typesetting features."
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G79CTKR8BX79E96L

If you open a mobi file in Kindle Previewer, you'll probably see this warning.



But to be clear, Amazon still supports the mobi format. They just don't recommend it: "We support books in MOBI and EPUB format that meet the specifications outlined in the Kindle Publishing Guidelines. If your MOBI file contains reflowable content (i.e. text-heavy books), we recommend you upload an EPUB file instead. Before uploading, we recommend validating the file with Kindle Previewer." [bolding in original]
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634390

The Vellum folks say you should not upload a generic epub file. Your links in the ebook will be wrong, and the Look Inside won't look right. You should upload the Vellum-outputted "epub for Kindle" file.

Vellum explains more in a recent blog post.
https://blog.vellum.pub/2020/09/amazon-would-prefer-an-epub-file

If you distribute ARCs via BookFunnel, give BookFunnel the "epub for Kindle" file and BookFunnel will convert it to the proper mobi for Kindle readers.

* Edit: expanded post title for clarity.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 09:39:25 am by Triceratops »

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    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #1 on: October 05, 2020, 08:28:07 am »
    Interesting. I have been using EPUB for a while now, produced by converting from Word, using Calibre. Have had no problems at all.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #2 on: October 05, 2020, 08:58:25 am »
    The title of this post is misleading though correct if you normally upload. Mobi.

    Their preferred files are Word Files, or those produced via kindle create.

    "Supported eBook Formats
    You can upload and convert your eBook manuscript file from several supported formats. For the best results, we recommend a Microsoft Word DOC/DOCX or a KPF file created with Kindle Create. As you prepare your eBook, consider whether your content should have a fixed or reflowable format."

    This makes sense seeing as how their conversion software was originally coded with Word as the go to software for the majority of authors at the time, especially as literary agents required files in Word format.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634390
    « Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 09:22:14 am by Decon »


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    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #3 on: October 05, 2020, 09:55:34 am »
    The title of this post is misleading though correct if you normally upload. Mobi.

    Their preferred files are Word Files, or those produced via kindle create.

    "Supported eBook Formats
    You can upload and convert your eBook manuscript file from several supported formats. For the best results, we recommend a Microsoft Word DOC/DOCX or a KPF file created with Kindle Create. As you prepare your eBook, consider whether your content should have a fixed or reflowable format."

    This makes sense seeing as how their conversion software was originally coded with Word as the go to software for the majority of authors at the time, especially as literary agents required files in Word format.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634390

    Fair point about the post title. I edited it.

    There's nothing wrong with uploading a Word file to Amazon. But if you distribute ARCs, such as via BookFunnel, you'll need to convert the Word file somehow. For folks who use Vellum it's good info to know.

    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 10:01:34 am »
    Interesting. I have been using EPUB for a while now, produced by converting from Word, using Calibre. Have had no problems at all.

    Can you check the sales page of one of your books? Does the typesetting of the Look Inside sample appear okay? Just curious!

    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 02:20:56 am »
    Can you check the sales page of one of your books? Does the typesetting of the Look Inside sample appear okay? Just curious!

    I have somewhere >30 books up there and I do check the 'look inside' from time to time. What I will say is that I have noticed some variability in the formatting of certain books, specifically with regard to line spacing, which I have never before thought about. It is not enough for me to worry about, but perhaps it may be due to the differences between a generic EPUB and the kind of specialised EPUB that can be output by Vellum.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #6 on: October 06, 2020, 02:47:56 am »
    I'm wondering if it's to do with problems on occasion with the look inside also if you upload a mobi. I've always understood that the look inside uses a different conversion to that of the ebook to set up from whatever doc you've uploaded. I'm not technical, but isn't the look inside html as it is on a web page?

    I've always uploaded a Word doc, but with regards to arcs, I've never had a problem converting to mobi using calibre and I've done many for both me and my clients who I format e-books for. The only difference between an Amazon conversion and one through calibre or any other outside software is that because the book is not bought from amazon, it only shows a generic cover in the kindle device library, so I usually add a cover to the file for arcs.
    « Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 02:55:16 am by Decon »


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    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #7 on: October 06, 2020, 06:09:53 am »
    I have somewhere >30 books up there and I do check the 'look inside' from time to time. What I will say is that I have noticed some variability in the formatting of certain books, specifically with regard to line spacing, which I have never before thought about. It is not enough for me to worry about, but perhaps it may be due to the differences between a generic EPUB and the kind of specialised EPUB that can be output by Vellum.

    Hate to push the imposition, but could you purchase a copy of your most-recent upload and check the links? The Vellum blog says that amazon-store-specific links (as opposed to universal links) in generic epub uploads will "likely" be "wrong." If you use universal links, never mind.

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #8 on: October 06, 2020, 06:56:25 am »
    I just uploaded a Vellum created MOBI file without any problems.



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    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #9 on: October 06, 2020, 07:24:36 am »
    I just uploaded a Vellum created MOBI file without any problems.

    Right, Amazon still supports mobi. Amazon however does not recommend mobi. They recommend uploading an epub instead.

    My understanding is that this is related to Enhanced Typesetting. Line spacing, fonts, justification etc. may be off in mobi.

    You can try checking your file on a latest-os-updated Kindle that uses Enhanced Typesetting. Or Kindle Previewer, but you'll probably get the error message in the Previewer.

    I'd be curious to see if you discern any differences in the typesetting.

    Kindle readers with Enhanced Typesetting:

    Enhanced Typesetting is supported on the following devices and applications:

    Kindle E-readers 6th generation and newer
    Fire tablets 3rd generation and newer
    Kindle for iOS v4.9 or newer (iOS Versions: iOS 7, iOS 8 and iOS 9)
    Kindle for Android v4.18.0 or newer (Android Versions: Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, and Marshmallow)
    Most of our customers read on devices that support Enhanced Typesetting. Customers who use older devices receive a KF8 version of the title.

    To find out the generation of your Kindle E-reader or Fire tablet:

    Which Kindle E-reader do I have?
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=201263790
    Which Fire Tablet do I have? https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=201263780

    If your device doesn't support Enhanced Typesetting features and your book's source content was uploaded in EPUB, MOBI, or HTML formats, you can use Kindle Previewer 3 to preview how your book will look before you publish. https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202131170

    https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202087570

    * Edit: Enhanced Typesetting stuff.
    « Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 07:37:45 am by Triceratops »

    Offline Gessert Books

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #10 on: October 06, 2020, 07:38:14 am »
    I'm wondering if it's to do with problems on occasion with the look inside also if you upload a mobi. I've always understood that the look inside uses a different conversion to that of the ebook to set up from whatever doc you've uploaded. I'm not technical, but isn't the look inside html as it is on a web page?

    I've always uploaded a Word doc, but with regards to arcs, I've never had a problem converting to mobi using calibre and I've done many for both me and my clients who I format e-books for. The only difference between an Amazon conversion and one through calibre or any other outside software is that because the book is not bought from amazon, it only shows a generic cover in the kindle device library, so I usually add a cover to the file for arcs.

    There are actually a number of differences between a calibre-created mobi and one generated using Amazon's tools. A couple of those differences may have played a part in the new language around epub here. Calibre mobi files are not dual-mobi files, so a buyer will not necessarily receive a version optimized for their device. They also don't support enhanced typesetting. So this new wording helps discourage use of non-standard publishing tools like that. As for more standard ones like kindlegen, I imagine it benefits Amazon to be able to continually retool the final conversion on the backend without worrying about what version we happen to be running locally.

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #11 on: October 06, 2020, 08:48:34 am »
    Interesting. I have been using EPUB for a while now, produced by converting from Word, using Calibre. Have had no problems at all.
    I just upload the Word file .docx


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    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #12 on: October 06, 2020, 01:51:37 pm »
    I won't lose any sleep if I don't have to create mobi files ever again.  I switched to KPF for most of my books a while back.

    That said, it would be nice if they updated the kindle software and apps to allow sideloading by those other formats, that way we could definitely leave mobi behind.


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    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #13 on: October 07, 2020, 03:54:40 am »
    I just upload the Word file .docx

    I started doing this when I was wide, just out of convenience. But I noticed the EPUB produced better - more consistent - results with formatting. So I have stuck with it, and have found no reason to change yet. However, at some stage, I think I should investigate the new version of Kindle Create.

    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #14 on: October 07, 2020, 03:59:56 am »
    Hate to push the imposition, but could you purchase a copy of your most-recent upload and check the links? The Vellum blog says that amazon-store-specific links (as opposed to universal links) in generic epub uploads will "likely" be "wrong." If you use universal links, never mind.

    As it happens, I accidentally purchased one of my books a few days ago. I was just checking stuff and accidentally clicked the 'one click' purchase button inside one of those hover boxes. Anyway, I have just checked it in my Kindle reader, and the links work fine. In this particular book they happen to be amzn.to links, which is unusual for me - I usually use Books2read. Hope this helps a bit.

    Offline TromboneAl

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #15 on: October 07, 2020, 11:07:44 am »
    I'm minutes from uploading a new book.

    I use Scrivener to create my ePubs and MOBIs. Anyone know if I can expect any problems/differences if I upload the Scrivener-produced ePub?

    >I won't lose any sleep if I don't have to create mobi files ever again. 

    I'd love to have everyone switch to ePub. I had multiple standards (slotted, Phillips head, square drive, star drive, aargh!).
     
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    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files
    « Reply #16 on: October 07, 2020, 11:40:47 am »
    As it happens, I accidentally purchased one of my books a few days ago. I was just checking stuff and accidentally clicked the 'one click' purchase button inside one of those hover boxes. Anyway, I have just checked it in my Kindle reader, and the links work fine. In this particular book they happen to be amzn.to links, which is unusual for me - I usually use Books2read. Hope this helps a bit.

    Very informative, thanks!

    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #17 on: October 07, 2020, 11:45:59 am »
    I'm minutes from uploading a new book.

    I use Scrivener to create my ePubs and MOBIs. Anyone know if I can expect any problems/differences if I upload the Scrivener-produced ePub?

    >I won't lose any sleep if I don't have to create mobi files ever again. 

    I'd love to have everyone switch to ePub. I had multiple standards (slotted, Phillips head, square drive, star drive, aargh!).

    You can check it in Kindle Previewer 3. You'll most likely get the error message re epub files. But if KP3 allows you to keep going after you click OK, you should be able to see how the spacing, images, tables, kerning, drop caps etc look. Also if your links work right.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1003018611

    * Edit: my error.
    « Last Edit: October 07, 2020, 11:49:42 am by Triceratops »

    Offline alhawke

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #18 on: October 07, 2020, 12:25:38 pm »
    All this sounds more convenient to me. One file for all retailers is better, imo.

    I have uploaded books as Epubs onto Amazon a couple months ago. I've also uploaded mobi for others. At the moment, I don't think it makes any difference on Amazon. I always just do a quick run-through with their previewer before publishing.

    Sounds like they just might get rid of the mobi option completely in the future.


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    Offline Mip7

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #19 on: October 07, 2020, 12:56:20 pm »
    I also use Calibre and usually make both -- but I have noticed problems with the ePub files sometimes, and less often with the mobis, so I like being able to swap them if needed. Swapping the upload file type has a 100% success record with me so far fixing undesirable display issues (and I've done that maybe a half-dozen times)
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    Offline AaronShep

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #20 on: October 07, 2020, 04:29:30 pm »
    They've been preferring EPUB for years, because that's what the Kindle format is now based on. All non-KDP publishers are expected to supply EPUB only. If you're only noticing the preference now, it's because they're just getting pushier about it.

    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #21 on: October 08, 2020, 05:14:52 am »
    They've been preferring EPUB for years, because that's what the Kindle format is now based on. All non-KDP publishers are expected to supply EPUB only. If you're only noticing the preference now, it's because they're just getting pushier about it.

    I don't think most people knew or cared about Amazon's preference before, because it didn't seem to really matter. But now things seem to be changing. A mobi file triggers a big warning pop-up in Kindle Previewer. That's new.

    More to the point, if Vellum is right, and a generic epub file is a no-no, that's also news.


    https://blog.vellum.pub/2020/09/amazon-would-prefer-an-epub-file/

    So Vellum seems to be saying that a generic epub file generated by Scrivener, Calibre, Sigil, etc, will be wrong. Vellum seems to be saying that a Kindle.epub file generated by Vellum is now the only way to go, for Amazon.


    https://help.vellum.pub/generating/kindle-ebook-format/

    I guess the question is, why? 

    Offline Gessert Books

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #22 on: October 08, 2020, 06:32:55 am »
    No, there is nothing wrong with a generic (lowercase g) epub made using any of those tools. Vellum uses "Generic" (capital G) to describe a Vellum-specific output file that is platform-agnostic, they aren't using it to describe epub files made using other tools.
    « Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 07:03:27 am by Gessert Books »

    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #23 on: October 08, 2020, 08:07:00 am »
    No, there is nothing wrong with a generic (lowercase g) epub made using any of those tools. Vellum uses "Generic" (capital G) to describe a Vellum-specific output file that is platform-agnostic, they aren't using it to describe epub files made using other tools.

    Aha!

    That clears it up.

    Thanks :)

    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: Amazon now "prefers" epub files to mobi files
    « Reply #24 on: October 08, 2020, 08:15:55 am »
    No, there is nothing wrong with a generic (lowercase g) epub made using any of those tools. Vellum uses "Generic" (capital G) to describe a Vellum-specific output file that is platform-agnostic, they aren't using it to describe epub files made using other tools.

    Thank you!

    But, how is the upper-G Generic epub from Vellum different from the epub generated by the others? And how is the Vellum Kindle.epub version the same; or is it?

    I'll head over to the Vellum thread and see if I can get the Vellum guy to chime in, too.


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