Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Guidelines for InDesign
Amazon’s “Kindle Publishing Team” has quietly released a new document called the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines for Kindle Plug-in for Adobe InDesign 0.93. [Update: As of September 2013, the latest Kindle plugin version is 0.973, the PDF guide is here and the guide in InDesign format is here.] It has detailed guidelines, with screenshots and clear instructions, on how to optimize your InDesign files for the Kindle file format (MOBI) prior to uploading to the Kindle store for sale.
That’s cool, but what’s even cooler is that the new guidelines document itself is in InDesign?it’s an INDD file, saved in CS4 format? and was designed by the KP team as an example of a properly formatted (for Kindle export) InDesign file. How cool is that? Answer: Very.
Holey moley it even uses Conditional Text (and discusses its use in the body of the paper):
Of course it uses proper Paragraph Styles:
And even has a linked TOC (placed in the document, per their requirements) created from a TOC style:
Technically, the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines for InDesign document is actually a how-to guide for using their free and recently updated Export to Kindle plug-in for InDesign, which works with CS4, CS5, and CS5.5. The plug-in appears in the File menu as Export for Kindle and also in the Books panel menu, if you want to export an entire InDesign book (INDB) to Kindle format.
The plug-in is smart enough to convert InDesign page breaks (the special character you insert from the File > Insert Break Character menu) to chapter breaks in the Kindle book it exports. The guidelines even suggest that you use the Keeps setting of “Start on Next Page” in a paragraph style so you don’t have to enter the break character manually, and the plug-in will follow through. InDesign’s own EPUB export can’t do that.
Alas, it’s the same plug-in for CS4 through CS5.5, so other than the special tricks added by the plug-in itself, it uses the lowest common denominator of CS4’s INDD > EPUB features for the heavy lifting. For CS5.5 users that means the Export to Kindle plug-in ignores the Articles panel and Object Export Options settings. If you want to use those features, you’ll need to export to EPUB first, then use other free software from Amazon (KindleGen or Kindle Previewer, links below) and third parties (such as Calibre) to convert the stand-alone EPUB to MOBI.
But remember, the Export to Kindle plug-in is still in beta, and you are most welcome to chime in to the Kindle Direct Publishing forums with your thoughts about its feature set and usability. The link to the discussion thread is below.
Bottom line: If you want to make the best possible Kindle eBook from your InDesign file, the new Kindle Publishing Guidelines for InDesign is a must-read.
- Kindle Direct Publishing portal (for authors and small-medium publishers)
- KDP Forums
- Discussion thread about the new 0.93 Export to Kindle plug-in
- Kindle Publishing Guidelines (general), a PDF
- Kindle Publishing Guidelines for InDesign/the Kindle plug-in, a ZIP file
- Bookmark this page: Kindle publishing software downloads (includes links to the plug-in)