Check your ebook formatting as KDP warns of new ‘file ingestion’ requirements

Ingestion is the keyword for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing which is tightening up on ebook formatting from this month to ensure that more books can support Enhanced Typesetting advanced typographical and layout features to offer customers a better reading experience.

KDP says, in a statement headed ‘File Ingestion Requirements’, ‘As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the digital reading experience for our customers, we wanted to share with you that starting October 27, 2020 we will be updating ebook file conversion requirements for large tables and include more checks to ensure ebook manuscripts are formatted correctly. This will allow more books to support Enhanced Typesetting. Most books already publish with Enhanced Typesetting support and customers have come to expect this experience with every title.’

  • For titles already available on Kindle, no action is needed. Your ebooks will continue to be available to customers as they are today.
  • For new or resubmitted titles, if you submit a file and it does not meet the new requirements, the actions to fix will now be available for you on your KDP Bookshelf after you upload your manuscript and cover. You may also use Kindle Previewer (KPR) version 3.39 or higher to review your files prior to publication. View the Conversion Log (found in the View Menu in KPR) to find steps to fix any errors related to Enhanced Typesetting.

For most authors/publishers, this shouldn’t really be much of a problem if you stick to the fairly simple formatting guidelines which KDP sets out on its website. Some of the things that could see your ebook rejected under the new guidelines could be:

Text settings

  • Amazon encourages content creators to use creative styles for headings, special paragraphs, footnotes, tables of contents, etc., but not for body text. Any styling on body text in the HTML will override the user’s preferred default reading settings which is considered as a poor reading experience. Selected parts of the text can be bold or italicized for emphasis. This guideline only prohibits a book from being entirely bold, for example.
  • Body text must not have a black or white background color. Customers report this as a bad user experience because it can create an awkward, boxy reading experience when a device background is set to a different color and the text can become invisible if a user changes the background color setting on their device and the font color automatically inverts.
  • Body text should not have a forced font face. There are guidelines for embedded fonts as customers could face being unable to change to their preferred reading font.
  • Body text must not use non-breaking spaces in place of normal spaces in between words in paragraphs.
  • Body text must not have an imposed left/right margin or padding throughout the book. If there are paragraphs that do require left/right margin to differentiate them visually from body text, such as a recipe list or a block quote, margins applied to these sections should be specified as percentages rather than ems or point values.

The ‘Ingestion’ notice does make particular reference to ‘ebook file conversion requirements for large tables’ so if you do include such things in your ebooks you might want to refer to the KDP guidance on this issue to check your books will pass the new checks:

Large Tables

Amazon recommends using HTML <table> layouts for tabular content and not rendering tables as images.

A table rendered as an image cannot be paginated because the entire image is displayed on one screen. Tables displayed as images cannot be read by customers using assistive technology. If the table is rendered using HTML <table> tags, pagination is available and the content of the table can be made available to screen readers and refreshable braille displays. Readers will also be able to navigate through the cells in the table. If the table is significantly wider than the screen and forces panning, it creates a poor user experience.

For the best user experience, tables should not contain whole paragraphs of text or large pictures in a cell.

Tables containing more than 1,800 cells and 20,000 characters are not supported. Single columns of HTML text provide the best reading experience for customers using a variety of font sizes. Amazon recommends creating tables with less than 100 rows and 10 columns.

If the table must be rendered as an image, follow the Image Guidelines and split tables as needed.

You can check over the Kindle Publishing guidelines for creating reflowable ebooks here on the KDP website and learn more about Enhanced Typesetting here on the KDP website.
You can download Kindle Previewer (KPR) here on the KDP website.

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