Sunday, September 07, 2014

Kid EBooks in Color


Amazon just came out with an application to convert books with illustrations for kidlets. Hey, I have some stories for children, so I'm giving the application a run through. You format your text, add some illustrations, make a PDF, then upload to the app. It creates a MOBI file, which you can then use as a source file for a Kindle books.

The problem I see is that the books produced this way become static. When uploading word processing files, the text flows depending on the settings the user likes for their ereader. I'm just talking about Kindle here. As far as I know, EPUBs you might get for Nook or Kobo don't have any particular facility for producing color interior, illustrated ebooks. I may be wrong about that. Let me know if you have other information.

Back to the process. I took three of my short stories appropriate for the 8-12 age range and formatted them. I inserted photographic illustrations (I'm not an artist) and made it look all pretty.

Then I sent the completed PDF to the Kindle for Kids application. Pick Portrait or Landscape. Hm. Well, I kind of let everything flow go in portrait. I tried that. Here's the weirdness. Since I uploaded a PDF, then the text and illustrations stay exactly where you put them. Maybe I could change the font size, but the pages don't flow as they do with a .doc upload. What you see is what you get.

That's fine when making a print book (and exactly how I do it), but what if somebody wants to turn their Kindle reader on its side? They can, but the pages just get smaller; they don't expand or contract as needed.

I tried a few other variations on the uploads. I made my pages landscape. They stayed landscape no matter what. Just for grins, I tried a two-page view. Um. Those fonts sure get smaller than I can read. Well they adjust if I change my font size on my reader? Can I hold my reader for portrait if I've produced a landscape input file?

It was an interesting experiment, but until I can test the files in all the ways people might like to use them (portrait, landscape, larger fonts, smaller fonts, etc.), I'm not convinced this is a good way to make color interior books for Kindle ereaders. They're find if you don't give the readers the options they are used to having.

My assessment for now is it's not flexible enough for the many ways a Kindle (of any type) can be used. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing. But, I did get a fun looking book if you want to read in portrait mode and don't mind not changing fonts.

As usual, I've included a graphic so this post will look more interesting. In this case, I used the quick and dirty cover I produced for my experiments.

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