So I figured I’d cover how we created issues of IN MAPS & LEGENDS for the Kindle as well. Relax — Kindle formatting is WAY easier than Nook formatting. Just wanted to get that outta the way first.
While Amazon’s Kindle was the breakthrough ereader in many ways, its biggest drawback for comics creators is that it only displays in black and white. Urgh!
However, Amazon provides a handful of free, downloadable Kindle apps that let you read Kindle ebooks without actually buying a Kindle.
And guess what? Your comic will be in COLOR on those apps.
So, Let’s Get to the Details!
The Kindle uses files in .mobi file format, but fortunately the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly known as Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, or DTP) lets you upload a ZIP file with all the relevant files in it. These files include:
- A single HTML page with some navigation on it
- A set of JPG files, one for each page of your comic; each page should be sized at 525×640 for best reading on the Kindle screen
UPDATE, 3/13/2013: For newer Kindle devices like the Fire and HD, you may want to try formatting your pages to 600 x 1024. For more info, see this excellent blog post by Manga & Mascara.
You’ll also need a hi-resolution TIF file of your cover, which you’ll upload as part of the new book creation process at the Amazon system.
Some tips about the JPG files, including the following from Alex de Campi’s excellent tutorial over at Bleeding Cool:
I strongly suggest only one image per page, and I use 525×640 greyscale images. When done, zip up the file, and upload it to the Amazon DTP. Easy-squeezy! Of course it’s up to you to sort out your panels/lettering/page cutdowns so they’re legible at 525×640 pixels and in black and white… so not so great for superhero-style comics. Note also, if you name your image files something OTHER than screen001.jpg, screen002.jpg etc (with the cover as screen001.jpg) you will have to go through and change all the IMG tags in the main HTML
I’d just add to NOT use the greyscale images as Alex suggests above, but use the color images instead, for people using the Kindle apps instead of the Kindle itself to read your comic.
Artist Niki Smith does some more tweaking with the IN MAPS & LEGENDS graphic files. Here’s what she does, in her own words:
Our pages are a different dimension than the Kindle screens. So I resize all the files so they’re 640 pixels tall, then I “adjust canvas size” in Photoshop and add in pillarboxes so that they come to the final recommended Kindle size of 525 pixels wide. This ensures that the images will be centered on the ereaders, rather than being adhered to one side. Not sure if you want to mention it, but I also boost the contrast a bit, so that it doesn’t look muddy on greyscale e-ink readers. I don’t have to really do any measurements… Photoshop automatically calculates it when I tell it what I want the final measurements to be! I also made Photoshop “actions” to do all of this for me automatically for each issue.
UPDATE, 3/13/2013: Again, for newer Kindle devices like the Fire and HD, you may want to try formatting your pages to 600 x 1024.
NOTE: Just like with the Nook, you may want to increase the size of your lettering in balloons and captions to ensure the words are legible on the Kindle’s screen.
So do some tweaking with the graphics for your own comic until you have the graphics the way you like ‘em, and then slap them into…
Our Kindle ZIP Template
As I did with the Nook, I’m sharing a ZIP template to help you get rolling. You can snag a template by emailing me at email@example.com, or you can download the KindleTemplate.doc file to your hard drive. Just be sure to change the “.doc” to “.zip” at the end of the file name — WordPress won’t allow me to add a .zip file as a file download.
Once again, we owe huge thanks to Alex de Campi — our KindleTemplate.zip is based on the ZIP file she created and shared for her wonderful digital comic VALENTINE. So send her some thanks by downloading all nine issues of VALENTINE, mmkay?
To create a Kindle ebook file using KindleTemplate.zip :
- Open KindleTemplate.zip and check out the contents — an HTML page and 3 sample JPG pages from the comic.
- Replace the three JPG pages of our comic with all the pages of your comic.
- Make sure the JPG file names match the screen001.jpg naming structure (or change the HTML code in IMAL_01.html from the ZIP file).
- Edit the HTML file from the ZIP file as needed:
- Tweak the Table of Contents info to fit the pages of your comic.
- Edit the <img src> info so it matches the number and names of your JPG files. You should be able to figure out the pattern for the pages even if you don’t know HTML.
- Rename the Table of Contents with your comic’s title.
- Test your ZIP file by extracting it and making sure the JPGs display properly.
- Sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program and upload your ZIP file and TIF cover file!
- For your next issue, simply rename your ZIP file and repeat the process of replacing the JPG images and updating the HTML file (if needed) for that issue.
Boom. That’s It.
I hope this makes the process for getting your comic onto the Kindle easier. Just let me know one way or the other by leaving a note in the Comments, below. Feel free to share this page with other comics creators.
For more information about formatting for the Kindle as well as the Nook, check out our ebook, Formatting Comics for the Kindle and Nook.