Amazon’s Kindle Create software has been extended to produce print books as well as ebooks. The company says it is now possible to output digital and print versions of a book at the same time and offers the choice of paperbacks of any trim size.
For print book production, Amazon says margins, page numbers, left/right side page layouts, widow/orphan treatment, and table of contents creation are all handled automatically.
Authors can take the same project file used for an ebook to publish it as a print version on KDP. It automatically handles margins based on the trim size you choose on KDP, and limits widows and orphans. The page numbering of your book begins with the body, and front matter gets roman numerals as page numbers.
You can control how the headers and footers of your print book appear by specifying the style. Click the Print Settings button in the top-right corner of Kindle Create to open a window offering several options to change the alignment and position of the author name, book title, and page numbers.
For print book production, Kindle Create offers:
- Page numbering
By default, Kindle Create assigns the first page of your body section to be page 1, with front matter pages getting roman numbering. If you have a TOC page in your book, it will be created with the page numbers next to the chapters in the print version.
- Headers and footers
Click the Print Settings button in the top-right corner of Kindle Create. This opens a window with several options to change the alignment and position of the author name, book title, and page numbers. Headers and footers are not available for ebooks, only for paperbacks. The previewer may show a header for ebooks, which is usually generated from the metadata in the imported file but the final ebook will show a header based on the book title metadata.
- Page spreads
Kindle Create automatically calculates the right spread for your pages. Pages such as title and chapter pages automatically print on the right side.
- Widows and orphans
Kindle Create automatically optimizes your book to minimize widowed and orphaned paragraphs in your book. Widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of paragraphs which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a page or column, separated from the rest of the paragraph.
Amazon launched Kindle Create as an ebook production program back in April 2017 so it’s taken a fair while to add the facility to produce print books and it is still an Early Access feature which you will have to enable when you download and run the program for the first time.
I’ve given Kindle Create a quick test to check just how easy it is to use and it does seem to be very good in terms of importing a file (using doc format) and producing an ebook and print book easily and simply by applying themes. You can’t set the trim size of a print book or preview the print book until you upload the file to KDP when you can then use the KDP Print Previewer. You can preview an ebook before uploading within Kindle Create.
It all sounds very useful but there is the problem that Kindle Create is very much a closed-end process in that it only produces files that are proprietary to Amazon, with a work file in a format called KCB and a publishable file in KPF format. You can’t, for example, export your ebook or print book in a format that can be used with other programs. As well as meaning that you can’t upload those files to other retailers, it also means you can’t have a back-up of your book files that you could use if, for example, Amazon discontinued Kindle Create at any time.
There are various file converters available online (such as File Converter Pro) which claim to be able to convert KCB files into a more widely useful format but it remains to be seen just how effective these would be.
At present, I use the excellent Jutoh software on my desktop to produce ebooks which can be exported in a variety of formats that can be loaded into a wide range of software, including free programs such as OpenOffice. If you want to produce a print book, Jutoh can export a txt file or an OpenOffice file, both of which can be loaded into word processors or desktop publishing programs.
I’ve found that you can get excellent results with print books by simply exporting an ebook from Jutoh to OpenOffice format, opening the file in Open Office and then exporting again as a PDF. The result does depend very much on how clean your original file was and the settings you have made in OpenOffice but if you have a decent file and you’ve set up Open Office to your requirements for a print book then you can often get a great outcome.
Jutoh, which is produced by Anthemion Software, is a real bargain at $45 (£35) and Open Office is, of course, an open source office suite that is free to download and use.
I also use Affinity Publisher for producing print books. This is a tremendous desktop publishing program produced by Serif which offers a cost-effective alternative to Adobe InDesign or Quark XPress. Affinity Publisher costs just under $50 (£48.99) which is a one-time fee rather than Adobe’s monthly subscription. You can load a variety of print book templates into Affinity Publisher that are freely available on the KDP website and produce superb print books. Affinity Publisher is relatively easy to use and offers a range of tutorials and help.
If you’re interested in using Kindle Create, you can download the software here on the KDP website. It’s a download of about 270Mb and is available for Windows or Mac. Please note that when you download the new version of Kindle Create you will need to click on the option that says Enable Early Access to be able to use the option of producing a print version of your ebook. There’s a tutorial on using Kindle Create here on the KDP website.