View Cart

Kindle Fixed Layout Tutorial, Part 2

Working Methodology

The intention of this tutorial is to teach you how a Kindle fixed layout ebook works, at its root level, so that you can use that knowledge to produce professional quality illustrated ebooks of whatever type you choose, with the maximum number of options at your disposal.

To that end, the methods described here utilize hand coding from start to finish, rather than relying on software interfaces which often have restrictive features or produce unreliable results (or both). Only by building ebooks from the ground up can you know exactly what is in a file, and understand what to do if something goes wrong (as it inevitably will).

Even if you ultimately use a third-party program or ebook conversion service to produce your initial file, you will be better positioned to correct any errors that crop up, or adjust and improve its appearance and functionality as new Kindle updates are released, or reader feedback is received, if you know what makes a given feature work (or not work, as the case may be).

This online guide is written as a step-by-step lesson that takes you through the contents of a simple, image-only Kindle ebook, progressing in stages from a basic page through more advanced layouts with multiple image sections, but all with only one page layer, and no text overlays. The Simple Template used as reference can be downloaded free with the purchase of the published manual, or purchased separately for a small fee to cover my costs of file hosting and bandwidth use, as well as the time and effort involved in keeping them updated. However, everything you need to get started is provided here, so you are not required to have either file to follow these instructions.

Every element and line of code in a standard working file is looked at, more or less in the order one would normally create them, beginning with the necessary support files for ebook functionality and proceding to multi-image layouts. For more complex content, including multiple layers, artistic page layouts, text and image popups, and clever tricks with interactive elements - as demonstrated in the Advanced Template - please read How To Make Kindle Comics & Children's Books.

Comics vs. Children's eBooks

There are two fundamental types of fixed layout ebooks that can be made in Kindle Format 8. Amazon divides these into "Children's" and "Comics" categories, even though this is a rather broad, and often inaccurate, labeling scheme, since any genre, age level, or subject category can be produced in either format. Yet there are significant differences between the two.

The primary difference is that "comics" consists entirely of full-page images, while "children's" ebooks include text laid over the top of background images. Both can include interactive Region Magnification features which, in the case of comics' "Panel View" function enlarges a pre-defined area of the full-page image when tapped, while the children's format includes the ability to magnify text boxes. But, of course, this isn't entirely accurate either, since comics can include text overlays and children's books might include only images.

Still, each has these inherent features for a reason, and each will be discussed and analyzed at the appropriate time. For practical purposes the division suits us here, since there are presumably two essential groups of people reading this tutorial:

  1. Those who want to make simple, image-only ebooks (i.e. comics)
  2. Those who want to create complex layouts reflowable format does not allow (i.e. children's books and other illustrated content)

With this in mind, we will begin by covering all the necessary steps in producing image-based ebooks in Kindle fixed layout format, from start to finish, and then progress to add in layers and region zoom features. In that way everyone can start at the beginning and jump ship when they're project is complete.

As for our plan of attack, a glance at the table of contents will provide a quick outline, but here are the essential steps:

  • A look at the necessary Tools, as well as a few further resources you might find helpful
  • An overview of the File Structure of a Kindle fixed layout ebook, followed by a look at each of its component parts
  • The OPF file, including Metadata, Manifest, Spine, and Guide items
  • The NCX file, including Metadata, NavMap, and PageID features
  • Creating Images for Kindle fixed layouts, including the Cover
  • HTML page layout, including CSS styling for image-only ebooks
  • Converting and testing your file using Kindlegen and Previewer

Each of these sections are subdivided into smaller parts, detailing what each component does and what your options are. Some are short and to the point, others somewhat long and complex, but all as detailed as they need to be in order to explain them thoroughly. So with that said, let's get started!


Join Me
On Google+

View My Vids
On YouTube

envelopeSubscribe To
My Newsletter