I know we've been down this path before, and I think I've read through all of the threads on the subject, but I haven't found one yet that really digs in, and maybe someone's got some better thoughts on all of this that I do, and just maybe we can help some folks (me included) out. I know there are people way smarter about all of this than me here.
We know the situation: a lot of us doing fixed-layout e-books would love to work from our InDesign file and get all of the necessary forms of our end products, including a .mobi. Douglas.Waterfall has been gracious enough to respond to so many of these discussions, and we have been told that .mobi support is low on Adobe's list of priorities. Fair enough, in my book. Likewise, I think we can all safely assume Amazon couldn't care less about this particular use case.
Typically, the conversation tends to degrade at this point into a pseudo-debate about who is "responsible" for an easy solution, which I couldn't be less interested in. The fact is that in my professional life I'm faced with this situation often, and I'm probably not the only one. So I think it falls to the users—for now at least—to deal with reality. So, I've been looking for a viable workaround for a while now, and I think it's just sort of beyond my ability to figure out myself. When I crack open the sample fixed-layout from Amazon here it doesn't look all that different from any fixed-layout EPUB I've seen, aside from different entries in the OPF, different headers on the pages, etc. So it feels like it should be possible to tweak an EPUB into a state where KindleGen's output is close to the input. If it's not, maybe someone can better explain why it'll never work.
Things I'd add:
- Unless I'm totally missing something, I don't think CircularFlo (which I often see prescribed as a solution) does this for real. It appears to display a .jpeg of the page with the live text beneath it (so that there's searchability and whatnot, I assume.) Or am I stupid? That's definitely how the sample book I did seemed to come out.
- Lots of other one click solutions appear to just run KindleGen.
I made a little 5-page sample and exported to fixed-layout EPUB. As expected, it looks fine in iBooks:
Doing nothing to it at all and running it through KindleGen, the result looks like this:
(This screenshot is from the Kindle Previewer, but the behavior is identical on my Fire HD.)
The text gets crushed together, but it's live. I at first thought maybe this is a font embedding thing I'm doing improperly. Deleting the encryption.xml file from the package, replacing the fonts, and converting the new package nets the same result.
Cracking open a page's .xhtml file—this is not news to anyone—suggests that InDesign pretty much handles all of the FXL stuff by giving each word its own CSS style definitions. So just the chapter heading of "Chapter 1: Peter Breaks Though" looks like this:
<p class="H1 ParaOverride-1"><span id="_idTextSpan010" class="CharOverride-4" style="position:absolute;top:0px;left:1445.12px;letter-spacing:2.52px;">CHAPTER </span><span id="_idTextSpan011" class="CharOverride-4" style="position:absolute;top:0px;left:3147.87px;">1: </span><span id="_idTextSpan012" class="CharOverride-4" style="position:absolute;top:0px;left:3538.46px;letter-spacing:1.92px;">PETER </span><span id="_idTextSpan013" class="CharOverride-4" style="position:absolute;top:0px;left:4718.88px;letter-spacing:2.31px;">BREAKS </span><span id="_idTextSpan014" class="CharOverride-4" style="position:absolute;top:0px;left:6150.92px;letter-spacing:1.95px;">THROUGH</span></p >
That's not tidy, but I don't know why the Kindle wouldn't be able to handle it. I wonder if the real problem is here, right before the actual page content begins:
<body id="Test_File_for_Adobe_Forums-2" lang="en-US" xml:lang="en-US" style="width:612px;height:792px">
<div style="width:9360px;height:12960px;position:absolute;top:3.97px;left:0px;-webkit-transfor m-origin: 0% 0%; -webkit-transform: rotate(0deg) scale(0.05);transform-origin: 0% 0%; transform: rotate(0deg) scale(0.05);">
My guess is that maybe what's lost in translation is something about the way all of the positioning information is expressed.
Maybe I'm grasping for straws. But is there any way to alter the output source of InDesign's EPUB to make it workable with KindleGen? Any superior expertise would really be appreciated. Thanks.