How To Create KF8 Panel Magnification

Many people may not know it but KF8 panel magnification works in other Kindle devices besides just the Kindle Fire. This blog article will provide the minimum and simplest code necessary to exactly recreate the following example of KF8 panel magnification.

This example shows screen shots of KF8 panel magnification functioning on my Kindle for PC. Panel magnification is a technology that allows a user to tap or click on a panel of an image and view an expanded replica of that panel. Comic books, childrens’ books, and cook books are the most likely candidates for panel magnification. Amazon’s documentation calls this technique Regional Magnification.

You will be able to exactly replicate the following panel magnification example by following this article:

First, I bring up a page of a .mobi comic book sitting on the bookshelf of Kindle for PC on my desktop:

Image Before KF8 Panel Magnification Viewed on Kindle for PC

Image Before KF8 Panel Magnification Viewed on Kindle for PC

If I click on the top panel, the expanded 150% magnified view of that panel appears as shown below. If you were using a Kindle Fire, you would double-tap the panel to activate panel magnification for the same effect.

All of the unzoomed areas  in the image below are shaded grey. This is called the lightbox effect. This expanded panel magnification view with the lightbox effect is what you will be able to create with code and tips provided by this article.

Here is the screen shot of the panel magnification/lightbox effect:

KF8 Panel Magnification Activated on Kindle for PC

KF8 Panel Magnification Activated on Kindle for PC

This blog article will show the minimum code needed to produce exactly the result as shown above. You will be surprised by how compact and simple this code is. You will be especially astonished if you have ever tried to figure this all out from Amazon’s incomprehensible Kindle Publishing Guidelines.

Here is a summary of the panel magnification process. This description isn’t 100% correct but it provides an easy-to-understand way to grasp panel magnification.

Imagine that you have two identical  images. Both of these identical images are sized at 600×1024 pixels. This is the screen size of the Kindle Fire. Now, imagine that you expand one of those images by 50%. This expanded image would now be sized at 900×1536 px and would be 150% larger than the other image.

Suppose that you placed both of those images in a Kindle Fire with the smaller image on top. The smaller, visible 600×1024 image on top fills up the entire screen of the Kindle Fire and covers up the larger 900×1536 image underneath.

With a magical double-tap on the Kindle Fire’s screen, a window opens in the upper 600×1024 image. Through this window now appears a section of the larger 900×1536 image below. If the larger image underneath has been shifted to just the right position, the window will open up to present an expanded view of exactly what was showing where the window was before it opened. The illusion of magnifying a panel has been created.

This entire effect can be created from just one image. In this case we are using the following 900 x 1536 px image:

ComicBook.jpg   900px Wide X 1536 px Tall  Drawn by Kris Aquino

ComicBook.jpg 900px Wide X 1536 px Tall Drawn by Kris Aquino

The embedded three-frame comic book page was drawn by a fantastic comic book creator and artist named Kris Aquino. At the time of this writing I am converting a series of his comic books entitled Dimensions into .epub/.mobi to be sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the iBookstore. I gotta tell ya that I’m really enjoying this project. I liked comic books when I was a kid and still do to this day.

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Before we go into deep details, let me provide an overview of the general steps we will take to recreate the panel magnification/lightbox effect shown above:

1st –  We start with the above 900×1536 image and size it with HTML/CSS formatting so it can be fully viewed in a smaller 600×1024 screen such as the Kindle Fire’s. It is important to keep in mind that an .epub/.mobi is a mini web site with its content stored as pages of HTML and its formatting controlled by CSS stylesheets.

2nd – We create a Tap Target. The Tap Target is a section on the 600×1024 image that will be tapped or clicked to activate the KF8 panel magnification effect. When the Tap Target is tapped or clicked, a window will open up in the upper 600×1024 image. Through that window a section of the larger 900×1536 image underneath can be viewed.

3rd – We create a lightbox effect. Here we are creating a grey, semi-opaque image that will cover everything on the screen except the magnified area showing through the window. The lightbox effect can be seen in the image above.

4th – We then create the window in the upper 600-x1024 image that will open up to show a section of the larger 900×1536 image below. It is not 100% correct to say that we are creating a window, but it is easiest way to understand the general idea.

5th – We then shift the larger 900×1536 lower image to just the right position so that when the window opens up, the correct section of this larger image underneath will be showing through the open window. We now save our file in the .epub format.

6th – Next. we use KindleGen to convert the .epub file to .mobi. KindleGen has to be used to create any .mobi file that employs KF8 formatting. KindleGen can be downloaded from Amazon and currently runs only from the command prompt on your computer.

7th – Finally we are ready to view the .mobi file in a real Kindle e-reader.

The Kindle Previewer isn’t capable of performing panel magnification. You’ll need to load the .mobi file on an actual Kindle e-reader view the panel magnification/lightbox effect in action.

To load the .mobi file on your Kindle For PC, just paste the .mobi file into your My Kindle Content directory, which will be located in your My Documents directory. When you open up Kindle For PC, you’ll see the new .mobi file on the bookshelf.

To load the .mobi file into a Kindle Fire, connect the Fire to your computer with a USB cable. The Fire will open up in your computer as another directory. Paste the new .mobi file into the Books directory of the Fire. When you go back into your Kindle Fire, you’ll find the new .mobi file sitting on the bookshelf of the Fire’s Docs directory, not the Books directory.

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Before I present the HTML and CSS for this effect, let me provide some tips to make it easy to edit an .epub file. Keep in mind that you do all of the editing to an .epub file. The very last step is to convert the .epub file to a .mobi file and then load it into the Kindle e-reader. You never do any editing to a .mobi file.

I usually start building my .epub files from scratch by opening up a brand-new blank .epub file in the free epub editor Sigil. First I create and name all of the blank HTML and CSS pages that I’ll be pasting content into.

In this case, it only necessary to create a single, blank HTML page in the Text directory and name it ComicPage.xhtml and a single, blank CSS page named ComicPage.css in the Styles folder.

Following that while you have Sigil open, insert the 900×1536 image shown above into the Images directory of the new .epub file. The image should be named ComicPage.jpg.

I then add some basic meta data such as author name and book title to the file while it is still open in Sigil. I now save the file and close Sigil. Sigil will save the file as an .epub file.

You’ll want to do all of your editing to this .epub file using a free text-editing program such as Notepad++, or something similar which has numbered lines and search/replace functions. If you have a Mac, you’ll want to  use a free program called TextWrangler instead of Notepad++. Don’t use Windows Notepad as it doesn’t have the numbered-lines feature. Some of the files you’ll be editing here will looks like a dog’s breakfast if you open them up in Windows Notepad.

I recommend using Nortepad++  and not Sigil to edit the HTML, especially in this case. I noticed that Sigil would do funny things to the JSON object (discussed below) that I had to undo every time I opened the .epub file up in Sigil. This didn’t happen with Notepad++.

I can now work the epub’s component files directly by changing the .epub extension to .zip and open up this .zip file with WinZip. I like to use the free text editor Notepad++ to edit all of the component files inside the .zip file from here on out.

To create the above panel magnification effect with a lightbox as shown above, you’ll only have to edit one page of XHTML (ComicBook.xhtml), one page of CSS (ComicBook.css), and the content.opx file. That’s it. These are files that you will see when you use WinZip to open your .zip file.

Now we’re ready to edit.

First I will show the HTML as it should be placed on ComicPage.xhtml  and then I will show the CSS as it should be placed on style sheet ComicBook.css. Following that I will show how the HTML code interacts with the CSS to create the panel magnification/lightbox effect. I will also show what has to be added to the content.opf file within the epub. That’s all the editing you need to do.

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Here is the HTML that will be pasted into ComicPage.xhtml by using Notepad++:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″ standalone=”no”?><!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN”  “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd”&gt;

<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”&gt;
<head>
  <title>KF8 Panel Magnification Demo</title>
  <link href=”../Styles/ComicPage.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” />
</head> 

<body>

  <!– Defines page size (600 X 1024) and contains everything –>
  <div class=”fillScreen”>

 <!– Defines image size (600 X 1024) and positioning – absolute –>
           <div><img alt=””
            src=”../Images/ComicPage.jpg” />
            </div>

  <!– Creates the Tap Target –>
    <div id=”tapTarget”>

         <!—The JSON object that controls panel magnification –>
         <a class=”app-amzn-magnify”
         data-app-amzn-magnify='{“targetId”:”parentContainer“,
“ordinal”:1}’>
         </a>

    </div>

 <!– Creates the parent container for the lightbox, window, and image –>
    <!—Also provides parent container’s size and hides it until activation –>                 

 <div class=parentContainer_Size_Activation” id=”parentContainer“>

<!– Creates full-size grey background which is the lightbox –>
              <div class=”lightbox”>
              </div>

  <!– Positions and formats the Window –>
      <!– This is a window in the 600 X 1024 image above –>
      <!– through which a part of the 900 X 1536 image will show –> 
    <div class=”windowFormat” id=”windowPosition”>

  <!– Formats the underlying 900 X 1536 image and provides the offset –>
             <!– The offset tells how much to move the underlying image –>
             <!– so that the correct part shows through the window –>                     
<img class=”imageOffset” src=”../Images/ComicPage.jpg” alt=””/>
              </div>             

    </div>
  </div>
</body>
</html>

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I bet you are a little surprised to learn that this is all of the HTML code needed to produce panel magnification/lightbox effect shown above. Lots more bells and whistles can be added but I am just showing the bare minimum code you’ll need.

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Now here is the CSS that will be pasted on style sheet ComicPage.css that is in the .epub’s Styles directory:

/* This first section of the stylesheet is called a CSS Reset.  */
/* A CSS Reset removes inconsistent formatting that browsers often apply  */

html{color:#000;background:#FFF;}body,div,dl,dt,dd,ul,ol,li,h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6,pre,code,form,fieldset,legend,input,textarea,p,blockquote,th,td{margin:0;padding:0;}table{border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;}fieldset,img{border:0;}address,caption,cite,code,dfn,em,strong,th,var{font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;}li{list-style:none;}caption,th{text-align:left;}h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{font-size:100%;font-weight:normal;}q:before,q:after{content:”;}abbr,acronym{border:0;font-variant:normal;}sup{vertical-align:text-top;}sub{vertical-align:text-bottom;}input,textarea,select{font-family:inherit;font-size:inherit;font-weight:inherit;}input,textarea,select{*font-size:100%;}legend{color:#000;}

div.fillScreen {
height: 1024px;
width: 600px;
position: relative;
}

div.fillScreen div {
position: absolute;
}

div.fillScreen a {
display: block;
width : 100%;
height: 100%;
}

.image {
position: absolute;
height: 1024px;
width: 600px;
}

div.windowFormat {
position: absolute;
display: block;
overflow: hidden;
}

div.parentContainer_Size_Activation {
width:100%;
height:100%;
display:none;
}

div.lightBox {
height: 100%;
width: 100%;
background: #333333;
opacity:.75;
}

div.windowFormat img {
position: absolute;
height: 1536px;
width: 900px;
}

/* Tap Target Zone Size & Position */
#tapTarget {
top: 26%;
left: 19%;
height: 23%;
width: 63%;
}

/* Window Size & Position */
#windowPosition {
top: 20%;
left: 4%;
height: 34%;
width: 93%;
}

/* Full-Size (900 X 1536) Image Offset */
.imageOffset {
top: -116%;
left: -32%;
}

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And that’s it for the CSS.

Before I go through each section of HTML and show how it interacts with the CSS to produce the panel magnification/lightbox.effect. we’ll add the following code to the content.opf file.

Once again, to edit the content.opf file, change the .epub extension to .zip and open the file in WinZip. Open up the individual files using Notepad++ and do your editing. When you finish editing, change the .zip extension back to .epub.

Here are the lines to be added to the meta data section of the .epub’s content.opf file:

<meta name=”fixed-layout” content=”true”/>
<meta name=”orientation-lock” content=”none”/>
<meta name=”RegionMagnification” content=”true”/>
<meta name=”original-resolution” content=”600×1024″/>
<meta name=”zero-gutter” content=”true”/>
<meta name=”zero-margin” content=”true”/>

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Here is what each of the above lines added to the content.opf file do:

<meta name=”fixed-layout” content=”true”/>
The above tag that tells the Kindle e-reader to use fixed-layout properties.

<meta name=”orientation-lock” content=”none”/>
This tag can be set to the following choices: portrait-only/landscape-only/none. You might pick portrait-only, for example if you wanted your file viewable only  as portrait in smaller devices such handhelds. That is not the case here. If you are viewing this file on a Kindle Fire, it will be viewable in both portrait (if you’re holding the Kindle Fire upright) or in landscape (if you’re holding the Kindle Fire sideways).

<meta name=”RegionMagnification” content=”true”/>
The above line enables panel magnification in KF8.

<meta name=”original-resolution” content=”600×1024″/>
This identifies the original display size that the content was designed for. This content was originally designed to function in a Kindle Fire, which has a screen size of 600×1024 px.

<meta name=”zero-gutter” content=”true”/>
<meta name=”zero-margin” content=”true”/>
These allow the whole screen to be filled out.

Amazon also states that one of the following book-types should be added to the meta-data section of the content.opf file:

<meta name=”book-type” content=”children”/>
<meta name=”book-type” content=”comic”/>

This is an optional entry. You should leave it out.  Panel magnification will function perfectly without it.  Including a book-type value will disable some of the live-text functions in a fixed-layout KF8 ebook, such as bookmarks, highlights and annotations, full search, and dictionary. Background image pinch-and-zoom using double-tap won’t work if the “comic” book-type is selected.

I don’t know of any reason to include a book-type value in the meta-data section of the content.opf file. Amazon’s documentation doesn’t currently list any reason either. Go figure?

Here is one more useful tip regarding the content.opf file: When you create a new .epub, one of the first things you should do is to update the title in the meta-data section of the content.opf file. The Kindle reader will show the title of a .mobi file based upon the title that listed in the content.opf file. If you forget to update the title in the content.opf file when you create a  new file (especially if you created the new .epub by copying and existing .epub file), you might open up your Kindle device and find that  two .mobi files sitting on the bookshelf have the same name.

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And finally, here is how the HTML interacts with the CSS to create the above panel magnification/lightbox effect.  The HTML code will be displayed in black bold and the CSS code will be displayed in blue bold.

 **************************************************************

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN”  “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd”&gt; 

<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”&gt;
<head>
  <title>KF8 Panel Magnification Demo</title>

 **************************************************************

Below is the location of your stylesheet in the .epub file. The style sheet is named ComicPage.css and is located in the Styles directory.

**************************************************************

<link href=”../Styles/ComicPage.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” />
</head>
<body>

 <div class=”fillScreen”>

 **************************************************************

This div container defines the page size (600×1024 px) and is sized by the following CSS:

div.fillScreen {
  height: 1024px;
  width: 600px;
  position: relative;
}
 

One helpful way to grasp KF8 panel magnification code is to view the <div> containers as a series of boxes within boxes. Each one is formatted separately and visible when activated or uncovered by deactivating the one on top.

***************************************************************

<div><img alt=””
            class=”image” src=”../Images/ComicPage.jpg” />
            </div>

 **************************************************************

The above defines the image size (600×1024) and positioning (absolute) and is affected by the following CSS: 

div.fillScreen div {
  position: absolute;
}

(the above formats any <div> inside a <div> of class = “fillScreen”)

and

.image {
  position: absolute;
  height: 1024px;
  width: 600px;
} 

**************************************************************

      <div id=”tapTarget”>
      <a class=”app-amzn-magnify”
              data-app-amzn-magnify='{“targetId”:”parentContainer”, “ordinal”:1}’>
      </a>
    </div>

 **************************************************************

The above HTML code, <div id=”tapTarget”>, creates the Tap Target.  The Tap Target is sized and positioned by the following CSS:

#tapTarget {
            top: 26%;
            left: 19%;
            height: 23%;
            width: 63%;
}

This CSS code indicates that the Tap Target starts on the screen with its upper left corner 26% of the screen’s height down from the top and 19% of the screen’s width from the left. The height of the rectangular Tap Target takes up 23% of the screen’s height. The Tap Target’s width takes up 63% of the screen’s width.

These dimensions can be determined by dropping the following image into Photoshop:

ComicPage.jpg  900x1536 px  drawn by Kris Aquino

ComicPage.jpg 900×1536 px drawn by Kris Aquino

When the image is opened up in Photoshop, enable the Rulers (View / Rulers) and set the Ruler to show increments of height and width as percents of the image height and width  (Edit / Preferences / Units & Rulers / Rulers : Percent).

This is shown in the following image, but the rulers showing height and width as percents may be difficult to see. It doesn’t matter how large or small you’ve sized the image before opening it in Photoshop. The height and width will always measure 100%. You simply have to figure out where you want your Tap Target to be in the image and where the image’s edges line up on the percent rulers. This process is shown in the image below:

KF8 Panel Magnification Tap Target Positioning Determined Using Photoshop With Rulers Configured To Show Percent

KF8 Panel Magnification Tap Target Positioning Determined Using Photoshop With Rulers Configured To Show Percent

Now you can see how we got the following Tap Target dimensions:

#tapTarget {
            top: 26%;
            left: 19%;
            height: 23%;
            width: 63%;
}

Inside this div container is a JSON object, shown once again below:

<a class=”app-amzn-magnify”
              data-app-amzn-magnify='{“targetId”:”parentContainer“, “ordinal”:1}’>
              </a>

A JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) object is a convention used to transfer collections of name/value pairs. This JSON element app-amzn-magnify is specific to Amazon products and is not listed anywhere else in CSS. It controls that panel magnification process.

Here is what each part of the JSON element does:

<a class=”app-amzn-magnify” This anchor contains the JSON element which controls the panel magnification process)

“targetId”:”parentContainer”  This identifies the region that will be expanded. This must match the id of the parent container for the lightbox, window, and the larger image. This parent container label appears in the next line of HTML code after the JSON object as follows:

 <div class=”‘parentContainer_Size_Activation” id=”parentContainer“>

“ordinal”:1 The ordinal states the order that the JSON object will appear on the page. There is only one JSON object on this page so the ordinal = 1.

“SourceId”  This is a tag that Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Manual states is needed within the JSON object. On the very next page of the manual, Amazon states that the SourceId is not needed for this JSON object.

I didn’t include the SourceId tag and panel magnification worked fine.

**************************************************************

    class=”‘parentContainer_Size_Activation” id=”parentContainer“>

**************************************************************

The above <div> creates the parent container which will hide the lightbox and the 900 x 1536 image which will show through the window as the enlarged view.

This parent container is sized and prevent from showing until activation (double-tapping on the view screen in  the Kindle Fire or clicking on the Tap Target in Kindle for PC)  by the following CSS: 

div.parentContainer_Size_Activation {
            width:100%;
            height:100%;
            display:none;
}

The <div>’s id=”parentContainer” is not listed on the CSS style sheet. This id must match the targetId listed in the JSON object, which is shown here:

<a class=”app-amzn-magnify”
              data-app-amzn-magnify='{“targetId”:”parentContainer“, “ordinal”:1}’>
 </a>

**************************************************************

              <div class=”lightBox”>
              </div>

 **************************************************************

This HTML creates the lightbox effect with the following CSS, which ensures that the whole screen under the magnified image is covered with a grey (#333333) image that has 75% opacity when panel magnification is activated. Taking a look at the panel magnification/ lightbox effect in action in the image up top probably provides the most intuitive presentation of the lightbox’s functionality, which is shading all unzoomed areas when panel magnification is activated.

div.lightBox {
            height: 100%;
            width: 100%;
            background: #333333;
            opacity:.75;
}

 **************************************************************

      <div class=”windowFormat” id=”windowPosition”>

 *****************************************************************

The above HTML code positions and formats the Window. The Window is the portal through which a section of the larger 900×1536 image underneath can be seen. The HTML code interacts with the following CSS to create that positioning and formatting:

div.windowFormat img {
  position: absolute;
  height: 1536px;
  width: 900px;
} 

#windowPosition {
            top: 20%;
            left: 4%;
            height: 34%;
            width: 93%;
} 

The above dimensions can be determined by dropping the image into Photoshop and viewing the rulers, once again configured as percent of height and width.

The image below has the window region blacked out. If we drop this image into Photoshop, it is easier to see how #windowPositioning’s dimensions were calculated. Once again, the ruler, which is dimensioned as percent of the image’s height and width, is somewhat difficult to see in the image below.

600x1024 Image With Window Blacked Out

600×1024 Image With Window Blacked Out

After dropping the above image into Photoshop and configuring the rulers as percent, this is what appears:

Determining the KF8 Window Dimensions Using Photoshop With Rulers Configured To Show Percent of Height and Width

Determining the KF8 Window Dimensions Using Photoshop With Rulers Configured To Show Percent of Height and Width

It is better to state dimensions in percent. Percent will keep your .epub file semi-independent from changes in viewing screen size in the future. The file will be much easier to update for larger viewing screens in the future.

If viewing screens become bigger in the future (very likely) and you want to replace the 900 x 1536 with a larger image with the same height-to-width ratio, you can use the same Tap Target placement percent measurement (shown above) and the same window placement percent measurements (shown here). You will have to recalculate only the offsets (discussed below).

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              <img class=”imageOffset” src=”../Images/ComicPage.jpg” alt=””/>
              </div>

 **************************************************************

The above <div> contains the image in its actual size (900 x 1536) and tells how much this image much be shifted (offset) right and down so that the correct part of  this image will show through the window when it opens. Here is the CSS which configures the offset of the image:

.imageOffset {
            top: -116%;
            left: -32%;
( 

These numbers have to be calculated in a somewhat round-about way. Imagine that you were looking at the 600×1024 version of the original 900×1536 image. The 600×1024 image entirely fill up the 600×1024 viewing screen. This image has a window in the middle of it whose upper left corner is 4% from the screen’s left edge and 20% down from the screen’s top edge.

Imagine that the full-size (900×1536) version of the image is directly underneath the 600×1024 image that contains the window.

If you lined up the upper-left corner of that window with the upper-left corner of the full-size (900×1536) image below, you would have to shift (offset) the larger image below 178 px right and 403 px down for the correct section of the larger image below to exactly show through when the window opens up.

KF8 Panel Magnification/Lightbox Effect On Kindle for PC

KF8 Panel Magnification/Lightbox Effect On Kindle for PC

The offsets are expressed as percentages and are calculated as follows:

Offest from top (up-or-down movement of image) =

= (Pixels that the image had to be moved down) / (Height in pixels of the window)

=  -403 px / 348 px = -1.16 = -116%

Offset to the left (sideways movement of the image) =

= (Pixels that the image had to be moved left) / (Width in pixels of the window)

=  -178 px / 545 px = -0.32 = -32%

The pixel height and width of the window can be determined by multiplying the image’s dimension (600×1024 px) by the window’s height and width percents as follows:

Height of window = 1024 ps x 34% = 348 px

Width of window = 600 px x 93% = 558 px

You can also drop the 600×1024 back into Photoshop and reconfigure the ruler to show pixels in order to get the above pixel measurements quickly.

The offset percentages will always require lots of trial-and-error. This is probably the most time-consuming part of the entire process. Nailing these percentages correctly on the first attempt is like hitting a hole-in-one: probably a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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And the final <div>s to close out the HTML page. Once again it is a good idea to look at a KF8 panel magnification file as a series of <div>s inside of <div>s, or boxes within boxes. Each inner container is activated with the outer container is deactivated.

  </div>
  </div>
</body>
</html>

*****************************************************************

A couple of tips to comic books writers who want the KF8 panel magnification capability added to their comic books:

–  Make all of the frames on every page (full-page image) rectangular. KF8 currently only provides panel magnification to rectangular regions.

–  Place all of your frames in the same spot and sized the same on every page. Doing so enables the same CSS style sheet to be used for every HTML page in the .epub file. If the frames on every page (full-page image) are different sizes or in different places, a new style sheet must be written up for each HTML page. The CSS styles that control the placement of the tap target region, the size and placement of the window, and the offset will all have to be recalculated, unless frames are the same size and in the same place on every image.

If you would like to have an all-image book such as a comic book, a childrens book, or a cookbook formatted with without any KF8 capability, feel free to send me some details about your book to:

mark@ePubandeBookHelp.com
www.ePubandeBookHelp.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Hope this article was helpful.

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ePub Author Question – How Do I Convert My Color Book to Black and White and Make a LOT More Money?

If you are self-publishing hardcopy books with color images, you may want to take a long, hard look at converting your book to black-and-white. The printing cost of a black-and-white book is just a fraction of that of a color book, which means you’ll be able to price your B&W book much cheaper and sell a lot more copies.

If you haven’t priced out the difference between color printing and B&W, you’ll be surprised. I’ll give you the numbers from one of my books as an example. 

My best-selling book is a 478-page book called Practical and Clear Graduate Statistics in Excel. I originally published the hardcopy version in color using Print-On-Demand from Lightning Source. The printing charge from Lightning Source was $44.02. At a retail price of $79.95 with a 20% wholesale discount (meaning that Amazon would get 20% of the sale price), I earned $19.94 per sale.

Introducing Lightning Source’s Convenient Publisher Compensation Calculator

Lightning Source has a convenient Publisher Compensation calculator on their web site. Below is a screen shot of the LS Publisher Compensation calculators running the numbers above: 

Lightning Source POD Publisher Compensation Calculator - Color Book

Lightning Source POD Publisher Compensation Calculator - Color Book

Now let’s take a look at the numbers after the same book is converted to B&W. The printing charge from Lightning Source was reduced to $9.90. At a retail price of $39.95 with a 20% wholesale discount, I earned $22.06 per sale. Cutting the retail price in half greatly increases sales and I even earn a few dollars more per sale. Below is a screen shot of the LS Publisher Compensation calculators running the numbers above: 

Lightning Source POD Publisher Compensation Calculator - Black-and-White

Lightning Source POD Publisher Compensation Calculator - Black-and-White

Not every color book will work as a B&W, but many will. Yours might.

Converting a book from color to black-and-white for the most part involves converting all images from color to grayscale. You will also need to create a new cover artwork file because the spine of a B&W POD book is thinner than a color POD book. This requires a whole new cover artwork .pdf file to be created and then uploaded to Lightning Source. Let’s do that first.

First step – Create the New Cover Artwork File

There are two files that must be created when submitted a book to Lightning Source for Print-On-Demand. Both files are .pdf files that must meet rigid, professional-quality printing standards defined by Lightning Source. The first .pdf file contains the book’s contents. The second .pdf file contains the cover artwork.

We have to create a new cover art .pdf when converting from color to B&W because of the thinner spine of the B&W version. B&W POD pages are slightly thinner than the pages in a color POD book. The spine of the B&W version of a book is therefore thinner than the color version. A thinner spine means that a whole new .pdf cover artwork file must be generated.

Introducing Lightning Source’s Convenient Cover Artwork Template Generator

Lightning Source provides a custom cover art template based upon the book’s dimensions, selection of color vs. B&W, binding type, and number of pages. Here are the inputs for Lightning Source’s cover template generator: 

Lightning Source Cover Artwork Template Generator

Lightning Source Cover Artwork Template Generator

The above inputs are for a B&W, 8.5 X 11 inch, perfect bound book, white paper with gloss laminate having 478 pages. I am choosing to have this template emailed to me as a .pdf file that I will open up in Photoshop. Note that the bar code will not include price information. This is nearly always the correct choice if your POD book will be sold in online retail bookstores such as Amazon. I do a lot of experimenting with pricing for all of my hardcopy POD books. That would not be possible at all if the barcodes on my POD books contained fixed prices.

Below is a blank Lightning Source’s .pdf art cover template based on the preceding inputs:

Lightning Source Blank Artwork Cover Template

Lightning Source Blank Artwork Cover Template

 

This file then should be opened in Photoshop and the work begins. A specific procedure must be followed when opening Lightning Source’s .pdf template in Photoshop to ensure that bar code will contain only black and white without adding any color. If the bar code contains any color, the cover artwork .pdf file will be rejected by Lightning Source. Opening the .pdf template incorrectly in Photoshop is one major cause of color appearing in the bar code. Here is the correct procedure for opening the .pdf from within Photoshop:

– File / Open / browse and select the blank .pdf template saved on your computer that Lightning Source has emailed to you.
– The “Import PDF” dialogue box will appear. Enter the input choices as follows:
– Crop To:  Media Box
– Uncheck: Anti-aliased
– The Width and Height dimensions sent by Lightning Source of the blank template should be correct
– Check:  Constrain Proportions
– Resolution:  300 Pixels/inch
– Mode:   CMYK Color
– Bit-Depth:   8 bit

After you have correctly opened the template in Photoshop, you can begin creating the front and back covers along with the spine. Red dotted lines in the blank template define the edges of the Safety Region for the covers and spine. No artwork or printing should extend past the Safety Region. The blue dotted lines on the blank template define the edges of the Bleed Region. Background color should extend to the edges of the Bleed Region, but not past it.

The bar code on the back cover can be placed anywhere on the back cover. It does not have to remain in its original position in the blank template

The final cover artwork .pdf that will be submitted to Lightning Source must have the red Safety Region lines and blue Bleed Region lines removed. Everything else in the blank template can remain. When you are ready to save it in Photoshop as the final .pdf, follow this procedure:

– File / Save As
– Name the file:   13-Digit_ISBN_cov.pdf    For example:  9781937159139_cov.pdf
– Format:  Photoshop PDF
– As a Copy:  checked
– Alpha Channels:   unchecked
– Layers:   Unchecked
– Use Proof Setup:   Unchecked
– Embed Color Profile:   Unchecked
– Save
– Adobe PDF Preset:   [PDF/X-1a:2001]
– Standard:   PDF/X-1a:2001

Saving the .pdf at the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard causes all colors to be converted to CMYK and ensures that the resolution is at least 300 ppi, which are two of the main Lightning Source requirements for the uploaded file. Here is what the final cover artwork .pdf in this case looked like: 

Final Cover Artwork .pdf File Ready for Upload to Lightning Source

Final Cover Artwork .pdf File Ready for Upload to Lightning Source

This cover artwork file is now ready for upload to Lightning Source. It will be a large file because of the 300 ppi resolution throughout. This particular file was 10.9 MB. Let’s move on to creating the black-and-white content file.

Second step – Create the New B&W Content File

The only difference between a color POD book and a Black-and-White POD book is the color of the text and images. The B&W book must have all images in gray scale and all text in black.

Converting all text to black is simply a matter of all selecting all of the text in the entire document (In MS Word click Edit / Select All) and setting the Font Color of the entire selection to black.

Converting all of the images to gray scale will take a bit more work.

 

How To Convert Color Images To Grayscale

To summarize the process, you’ll need to open each image in Photoshop, set the image’s color mode to grayscale, and ensure that the image is sized properly. After each grayscale image is inserted into the document properly, the document must be saved as a .pdf file that meets the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard, just like the cover. The final step is to run a check called the Preflight check in order to ensure that the entire .pdf file conforms to the same PDF/X-1a:2001 standard that the cover artwork .pdf file conforms must conform to.

The first thing to do is open each image file in Photoshop. The best and safest way to resize and transform an image in Photoshop is to first open it as a “Smart Object.” A Smart Object is a container-like layer that almost anything can be opened up in. No matter what you do to an image opened up as a Smart Object, Photoshop remembers all of the information about the original image and places that information back into the file.  To open an image as a Smart Object, click File / Open As Smart Object as shown below: 

Photoshop Opening an Image As Smart Object

Photoshop Opening an Image As Smart Object

Once the image is opened as a Smart Object in Photoshop, set the image’s size and resolution properly. Click Image / Image Size / and then set the correct setting in the Image Size dialogue box as shown below. The resolution for an image in a POD book should be set to 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Images that consist of line art should be saved at 600 ppi resolution.

The Width and Height dimensions in the Document Size box are the other two measurements to be set. For an 8.5 X 11 inch POD book, I try to make sure that an image’s width never exceeds 5.5 inches and its height does not exceed 8 inches.

The Pixel Dimension setting of width and height would be the dimension to be set if the images were going to be viewed onscreen, such as in an .epub eBook. For an .epub file, I try to ensure that all images are 72 ppi and no more than 500 pixels in width or height. Note that convention is to state the width dimension before the height dimension. Below is the Image Size dialogue box:

Setting Image Size and Resolution in Photoshop
Setting Image Size and Resolution in Photoshop

After setting the size and resolution of the image correctly, change the color mode to grayscale. Do this by clicking Image / Mode / Grayscale. If the image was not originally in CMYK mode, select CMYK mode first, and then select Grayscale. When you select the color mode (CMYK or Grayscale) you will be asked if you want to rasterize the image. You do want to allow Photoshop to rasterize your image at this point. Below is the menu selection of Grayscale.

Setting Image Color Mode To Grayscale in Photoshop

Setting Image Color Mode To Grayscale in Photoshop

Now that your image is properly sized and in grayscale, you can go ahead and swap out the old CMYK color image with the new grayscale version that you just created.

I like to create my content files using MS Word because it is so convenient to make changes. Another big reason that I usually create my content files in Word and not Adobe InDesign is that all of my clients will have MS Word on their computers. I can send my file to them as I am working on it to get their immediate feedback. I couldn’t do that if I did my content files in InDesign because most of my client don’t use InDesign. I don’t dislike InDesign. In fact, it is really a much more capable publishing program than Word. It’s just that my client don’t use it very often.

I am assuming that you have created your content file in MS Word. If you have swapped out all of the color images with grayscale CMYK images, you can now convert the Word document to the final .pdf content file that will be uploaded to Lightning Source.

The best tool to have on your computer for this is Adobe Acrobat. If Adobe Acrobat is loaded on your computer, you will have an Adobe PDF menu item in Word (this is the 2003 version) as shown below.

You’ll need to ensure that the .pdf file will conform to the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard required by Lightning Source. To do this, click MS Word drop-down menu item Adobe PDF / Change Conversion Settings as shown below:

 

Adobe Acrobat Change .pdf Conversion Setting

Adobe Acrobat Change .pdf Conversion Setting

 

The following Acrobat PDFMaker dialogue box will appear. Set Conversion Settings to PDF/X-1a:2001 and make sure Create Bookmarks and Add Links is unchecked. The PDF/X-1a:2001 setting will, by default, set all colors to CMYK. Leave security defaulted to none. Make sure that the page size is set correctly by clicking Advanced Setting / General /  Default Page Size. An 8.5 X 11 inch book should have the width and height settings at 8.5 and 11 inches. All other settings should be defaulted correctly.

Adobe PDF Maker - Correct Settings

Adobe PDF Maker - Correct Settings

After setting the Acrobat PDFMaker dialogue box correctly, convert the Word document to the final .pdf by clicking Adobe PDF / Convert to Adobe PDF.  It can take a little while for your computer to complete this process because the final .pdf file can be very large, particularly if there are lots of images. Images at 300 ppi are large files. The content .pdf file of the book shown here, Practical and Clear Graduate Statistics in Excel, was 101 MB.

After this .pdf file is created, it needs to be checked to ensure that it meets the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard required by Lightning Source for POD input files. The test to ensure that the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard is met is called a Preflight check. This is named after the check that pilots perform on the place before take-off.

Open the .pdf file in Adobe Acrobat. I use Acrobat Professional Pro Extended version 9.0. It is expensive software but worth every penny if you do lots of work with .pdf files.

To bring up the Preflight check on the .pdf content file loaded in Adobe Acrobat, click drop-down menu item Advanced / Preflight as shown below: 

Selecting the Preflight Check In Adobe Acrobat

Selecting the Preflight Check In Adobe Acrobat

ThePreflight dialogue box will come as shown below. Select PDF Analysis and then select “List page objects, grouped by type of object” as shown below:

Specific Preflight Check Selection

Specific Preflight Check Selection

 

You are most concerned that all images are at least 300 ppi and CMYK. 

Preflight Check Output

Preflight Check Output

Below we are expanding the image section of this report to view resolution and color mode of all images.

Specific Preflight Check Output

Specific Preflight Check Output

 

After you have uploaded the cover artwork and content .pdf files to Lightning Source from their web site, you will find out within usually 24 hours whether you have created both files correctly. If both files have been created correctly, you will see the following.

BOOKBLK Accepted  (BOOKBLK is the content .pdf file)
COVER Accepted

I have ordered a proof to be made and shipped to me. Below shows that this proof has been generated, but has not yet been shipped to me. 

Lightning Source Title Status - Cover and Content Files Accepts & Proof Generated

Lightning Source Title Status - Cover and Content Files Accepts & Proof Generated

I received the proof of this B&W version of the book and it looked great. Once again, great job by Lightning Source and now I should be able to make a lot more money selling this book in B&W than in color.

ePub Formatting – How to Resize an ePub Image in Photoshop Before Inserting It Into an ePub

Images inserted into an ePub document should be sized correctly and have a resolution of 72 ppi. This blog article will show how to do that in Photoshop.

First, little background info about pixels and resolution. Resolution can be thought of as pixel density, that is, how many pixels are packed into a space. Resolution is measured in ppi (pixels per inch). Sometime you might hear resolution measured in dpi (dots per inch) but that is not technically correct. Dpi is a measurement used by your desktop laser printer, which print dots of color. Incidentally, if you using Photoshop to create an image that will be printed on your desktop laser printer, you’ll get the best-looking image by setting the ppi resolution in Photoshop to the dpi of the printer (which can be found in the owner’s manual)

Another resolution measurement that you should also be aware of is lpi (lines per inch). Professional printing presses print images that are composed of tiny shapes, usually circles. Lpi is the measurement that tells how many of these shapes getting printed per inch.

Your computer monitor and the viewing screen of an ePub e-reader cannot take advantage of resolution higher than 72 ppi. On-screen resolution is handled by a video driver, which results in a 72 ppi image looking exactly the same as a 300 ppi image. Any resolution above 72 ppi for an image simply increases file size, but does not improve the image’s appearance onscreen at all.

Printers, on the other hand, can take advantage of higher resolution. A 300 ppi printed image definitely looks sharper than the same printed image at 72 ppi. If I were to convert your book into the .pdf files for submission to a print-on-demand company, I would need to set the resolution of all images to 300 ppi. If you are a self-publisher, you would use a print-on-demand company to print and sell hardcopy versions of your book in the online bookstores such as Amazon. Most of my own self-published books are sold on Amazon as both ebooks and hardcopies printed by the print-on-demand company Lightning Source.

Now, here’s how you use Photoshop to resize your images for ePub and set the resolution at 72 ppi. All of this work can performed in the Image Size dialog box. Access the Image Size dialog box by Image / Image Size. Here is the resulting Image Size dialog box that will appear:

 

Photoshop Image Size Dialog Box For Sizing ePub Images

Photoshop Image Size Dialog Box For Sizing ePub Images

 

You are most concerned with Width and Height in the Pixel Dimensions box and the Resolution in the Document Size Box. The Width and Height measurements in the Document Size box tell how big the image would be if printed on a printer. You don’t have to worry about those measurements.

Set the resolution to 72 ppi (pixel/inch) and then set the Width and Height in the Pixel Dimensions box. An ePub image should not have its Width or Height Pixel Dimension set greater than 500 pixels. Images wider or taller than 500 pixels might not fit completely into the viewing screens of many e-readers.

Leave Scale Styles checked. If you have applied any styles in Photoshop to the image, you want those styling effects to be resized the same as your image.

Leave Constrained Proportion checked. This locks the width / height ratio when the image is resized.

Leave the Resample Image checkbox checked if you want to change image resolution without changing image quality. Resampling is the process of adding or subtracting pixel when an image is resized.

For the type of Resampling, select Bicubic Sharpener. Photoshop experts claim that this Resampling method produces the best results when images are enlarged or downsized.

Having set your image’s Width, Height, and Resolution correctly for insertion into an ePub document, you are now ready for the last step, which is to sharpen your image. The previous article in this blog explains how to use Photoshop sharpen in image for insertion into an ePub document.

After sharpening your image, save it by File / Save for Web & Devices. Here is the dialog box that appears:

 

Photoshop "Save for Web & Devices" Dialog Box For Saving ePub Images

Photoshop "Save for Web & Devices" Dialog Box For Saving ePub Images

Save the image as a JPEG and select Maximum Quality with a number setting of 100. Make sure the Image Size is set correct and Save it. “Save for Webb & Devices” automatically saves images at 72 ppi resolution. I prefer to do that in the Image Size dialog box and then sharpen the image. This way, I will avoid any surprises that might happen if you let “Set for Web & Devices” change the resolution.