Create Your Own Kindle eBooks

If you’re lucky enough to have a Kindle (or one of the new Kindle 2s that come out tomorrow), there is no need to go spending good money to put your own content on there.

If you have PDFs, HTML docs, word processor documents that you’d like to carry around on your Kindle, you can either pay 10c a doc to have Amazon convert and email them to your Kindle OR you can use this handy, free method.

[UPDATE 1/3/12 - Amazon has announced the latest Kindle format will move away from the Mobi format. Find out more at the Amazon Digital Publishing site]

STEP 1
Download the free Mobipocket eBook Creator software. Install it and fire it up. (Update 1: Txvoodoo, in the comments, suggests downloading the Publisher version rather than the Home Version. That’s the one I used. It gives you more options, and of course a little more complexity, but it’s still simple to use. Update 2: Just discovered  calibre for ebook conversion and library management. I like it. Read my thoughts on Calibre).
mobipocket

STEP 2

Select the file type of your original document (Word, PDF etc.) from the top right group ["Import File Type"].

Browse to the file on your computer, then click on ‘Import’,

mobipocket2

Mobipocket imports the file but you’re not quite done yet.

STEP3

After importing, you should arrive at a screen like this:

mobipocket4

Your publication’s title appears in the main pane. In the left sidebar are links to things you can change about the ebook: you can add a cover image, table of contents, and metadata (that is, information that is not printed in the book, but will show up in libraries and on readers, such as publisher, author, publication date, etc). You should modify as much or as little as this as you need. If yours is a document for your own use, and this is your first time through,  just make sure it has the right title and author in the ‘metadata’ settings and move on.

STEP 4

On the same screen as Step 3, click on “Build” in the top tool bar. The program will  give you this screen:

mobipocket5

You can choose more or less compression and you can choose to encrypt or password protect your book if you want. First timers/Personal users: just use the default settings and click “build”.

STEP 5

All going well, you should end up at a screen like this.

mobipocket6

Make sure “Open folder containing eBook” is selected and click “OK”.

In that folder you’ll find various versions of the file. The one you need for the Kindle is the one with the PRC extension.

Make note of where this folder is (so you can find it again), plug in your Kindle and drag the PRC file from this folder over to the ‘documents’ folder on your Kindle.

NOTES

I’ve found some odd formatting issues occasionally– page breaks not observed, justifications changed — but it’s nothing that bothers me as a casual user. If I was publishing for profit I’d have to figure out the optimal settings, and maybe I will some day. For now, though, I’m just happily converting, dragging and reading.

Leave Your Comments Here

42 responses to “Create Your Own Kindle eBooks

  1. The Kindle is actually quite classy; it’s like a convergence of old school and new school technology

  2. I love it. I’ll even miss the odd shape of the Version 1.

  3. Might wanna tell folks that when they’re installing, choose the “Publisher” version when given the option – it makes a difference! :)

  4. DOH !!!!! :- ( ?

  5. Nice article. I was thinking about getting a Kindle or Sony EBook reader before but did not want to be forced to spend $10 per book to download them. The new kindle claims to use PDF files though…So would that mean that no conversions are necessary?

  6. Thanks.

    You aren’t “forced” to spend $10 a book, as such. I’ve bought books cheaper than that, and the ones that are $9.99 are usually ones that are new and would cost much more than that in hard copy.

    I believe the Kindle 2 still requires conversion, although to be honest I haven’t tried just dragging a PDF over. I’m pretty sure that won’t work but I’ll try it next time I plug it in (which isn’t often: one of my favorite features of the Kindle is that you don’t have to plug it into your computer), but you can have Amazon email them to your Kindle (saves you connecting it to the computer) for 10 cents a time. The quality of the end product depends a lot on how the PDF was created in the first place (for example, if the creator didn’t use things like styles and page breaks, it’s hard for the converter to make sense of it and you get something that is a little less pretty than a well-done document).

    Converting PDFs using mobipocket doesn’t take long (a few minutes). It’s not the most elegant solution, but PDFs aren’t a very elegant solution either. Everyone should be creating XML files, so that they can easily be converted for other formats…(Sorry, not helpful. Climbing off my soap box now).

  7. Pingback: How to Create eBooks for Kindle – Research | Wordpreneur.com

  8. How do you get your ebook onto an iPhone using the Kindle for iPhone app… any ideas?

    • Hi Patrick,

      Hmm, if you’re talking about books from Amazon, they are automatically available, once you log in to your Amazon account.

      If you’re talking about other formats, hmm. I’m not sure. I’ll look into it. What kind of ebook formats do you have?

      Julie

  9. Hi Jwordsmith : ) I have an issue I hope you might help with. I am a published co-author (write with husband – 9 titles published and twice that many written : ) I am trying to upload our favorite, an epic titled THE CHIEF OF SINNERS, to the Kindle Store at Amazon so that folks with Kindles can down load it. I had it in Word, but lost paragraph formatting when I tried uploading in that format, so took the time to convert the 58 chapter book into html format and tried to upload again, but all the html codes SHOW on the preview. I’m a Grami who knows enough about the computer to get me in a fix : ) But, I found you! Yea! I wasn’t sure the Mobi dealie-ma-what was my answer as I think you’re talking about moving something from my computer to my Kindle, but I want to move the manuscript from my computer to Amazon. Since best sellers were $9.99, we were thinking of making our novel available at $4.95. I believe that word of mouth will make it soar once it’s out there New York Publishers have such narrow pidgin holes that a writers’ work must fit into. This book is too religious for the secular houses and too secular for the religious houses. We have had many personal, glowing rejections from traditional publishers. Anyway – didn’t mean to commercialize : ) Thanks for any suggestions! Caryl a.k.a. Grami McAdoo (children’s books pseudonym)

    • Hi Caryl,

      I applaud you for getting to know your computer well enough to wreak havoc! It’s how I’ve done most of my learning.

      I haven’t ever tried to do what you’re doing, but I took a look at the Amazon instructions. Without seeing your file it’s hard to know what went wrong. I would suggest that if you edited in Word that might have caused some of the problems. Try Notepad, as Word tends to introduce code of its own.

      If you’d like to send me the file for me to look at (I’m pretty comfortable with HTML), you’d be welcome to. jd at jdwrite dot com is the email address.

      Best wishes,
      Julie

  10. Michael Wilkinson

    I have wrote a book (file) on Works. I would like to sell it on Amazon for Kindle. What is the best format to get it there, I have heard HTML but have no idea on how to change it. Can you help.
    Thanks
    Michael

  11. Hi Michael,

    Download the software mentioned above (Mobipocket) and follow the steps in this article.

    That should do it.

  12. Hi All,

    I have a problem. I`ve checked many forums and guides but no solution yet.
    So…. I have a Kindle 3, and I want to create prc files from my existing doc and pdf documents.
    As the above convert process creates useless prc files in many cases, I always create raw html files and create new publications in Mobipocket Creator. This way is almost perfect.
    My only issue is that mainly I have beautiful jusified text, but there are couple lines that are left closed. I found out that this is due to the `machine`. When a sentence contains too long words, and the line would be to airy, Kindle closes the line left, but not the whole paragraph.
    Do you have any idea how to avoid these problems?
    Thanks in advance, and sorry if my English was `raw` :)
    csaba

  13. i use a program called ebook tidy, its free at http://www.simtel.net/free/Text-Utilities/E-Book-Tidy/76296.html. it can remove all the extra paragraph marks, and only keep the ones that are actually at the end of a paragraph. that is the biggest problem i have with most ebooks.

  14. Been working with Sigil and Calibre for the past few months converting books to the mobi format for the amazon.com kindle program as have a few questions:
    1. Does any know if there is an easier method to do the conversion with books that have considerable illustrations (as each .eps file has to be converted to an image and then placed)?
    2. Also, is the MobiPocket Creator a better tool to do this?
    Thanks for any info.

  15. Hi, I got a challenge on my kindle with viewing images attached to my word document after i converted it with mobipocket creator. I see only the text but the pictures are not there. Is there any solution for this. [I use the publisher version]. Thanks.

  16. I tried this program but got way to confusing! I paid for the RawCode pro at http://www.kinserpublishing.com Is scary at first but was really good once i got use to it. I think they offer the first version for free but wasn’t all that good lol

  17. John Houlgate

    Just downloaded and gave MobiPocket Creator version 4.2, build 41, a test drive. It converted my document, which was a 110 page pdf file. The file had a cover and its own table of contents page. I found out I needed to add an image file for the cover and it had to be over a certain size (64k). I ran into problems during the build process and the warning item said the image file was too small. I recreated the image file, making it bigger and that worked.

    The table of contents feature is a mystery to me. The TOC wizard has you define the html tags on three levels, but no where does it show you how to set the tags or ask you what goes in the TOC. This is the most frustrating aspect of this software so far. Is this something that requires paid support? The documentation doesn’t give you enough information to show how to do this.

    I downloaded the Mobipocket desktop reader, version 6.2, build 608, and imported my prc file. The cover thumbnail showed a bunch of horizontal black lines running through the image, although when clicking on it in the main window, it appears fine in right-side panel. I open the book and it displays the cover nicely, the contents page is blank, except for the title ‘Contents’. The text is a little large and sloppily formatted in some places

  18. John Houlgate

    Sorry to be so long winded. I tried to delete the last paragraph, mainly because the Reader has some features for modifying how the text and pages look to you.

    If anyone has any suggestions about what to do with the Table of Contents, I’d be very interested in hearing what you have to say.

  19. Did you create a TOC using the tool in your word processor? I think that would convert automatically (but you would have to use the automatically generated TOC not a manual one)

    I’ll check it out.

  20. John Houlgate

    Thanks for responding, Julie. The document was a pdf that already had a TOC in it. The links to the chapters were added to the pdf through Adobe Acrobat. It seems like something was missing or maybe just an explanation of how Mobipocket Creator automatically reads the TOC and formats the links.

  21. Do I dare speak the truth here? I’m sorry, Mobipocket hardly gets the job done. And what is that?

    >Easily, and in the minimum of steps for all three formats across the board- Kindle, ePub, and iBook- so no one gets confused or bogged down with the process, and ends up with a universally acceptable book that actually resembles the author’s intent, and reads like a book for any and all eBook readers.

    I followed your instructions above EXACTLY- and the process failed in that regard.

    I’ve tried many applications, and Mobipocket was one of the first I tried, and immediately found it clumsy, confusing, and simply did not easily accomplish what you describe here. Just as an example, exactly following your instructions resulted in a poorly formatted version that for starters did not add a “COVER” (which should be accessible via the Kindle’s “Go To” command).

    By your own admission “I’ve found some odd formatting issues occasionally– page breaks not observed, justifications changed — but it’s nothing that bothers me as a casual user. If I was publishing for profit I’d have to figure out the optimal settings, and maybe I will some day. For now, though, I’m just happily converting, dragging and reading.”

    Well for that matter, once could accomplish the same thing more easily by just submitting to the Kindle conversion application on the Amazon site.

    Try adding a Table of Contents- and then Mobipocket becomes even more cryptic. How about images? No go. Its a disappointment that I’ve become familiar with at virtually every How To Make An eBook site I’ve been to.

    It’s a mine field out there with a million different suggestions and programs poorly designed to do the most essential and simple task: How to Easily Make a Kindle (and eBook/ePub/iBook)- properly formatted for the ease and convenience of a customer and reader.

    Thus, I will finally put together some instructions myself that will accomplish that, and I’ll post it here when done-

    [Link to paid product removed. You can find it, if interested, at "my own publishing dot com"-JD]

  22. Hi Neil, I look forward to your updated instructions! I certainly hope there is a better, low-cost solution with two years’ development and some e-reader competition on the block. (Remember, the Nook & iPad didn’t even exist when this post was written. Dark ages!!)

  23. My husband has just published his first book. We used a company in England to covert it to .epub and kindle versions. The physical book has 396 pages and 200 photos, so it was not really an option to try and convert it ourselves.

    This is our issue now. The book (physical book) is for sale on his website (http://www.survivenashville.com). We want to put the .epub and kindle versions for sale (as downloads) on his website. The digital files have no encryption – how do we protect these files from someone simply purchasing one and then sharing it with everyone they know?

  24. Chris Blanchett

    @ Neil Slade
    I couldn’t have worded it better myself. Mobipocket Creator is very confusing in creating the TOC and guide. Cover images don’t seem to much of a problem but you need them to be 600×800 for them to fill the kindle screen.
    The biggest confusion for me seems to be that Mobi doesn’t create an NCX file, yet Amazon insists on an NCX file when you upload the book for sale.
    Which way do I go?
    If I use Mobi to create the ebook then create an NCX file manually it is rendered useless if I rework the book in Mobi later.
    Someone please come up with a one stop app for doing all this as it’s driving me crazy!!

  25. Chris,

    I’m happy to see someone else come forward to confirm my own observations and statements here on this thread. And yes, I finally put something online that instructs people how to make ALL types of ebooks (Kindle, Nook, ePub, and iBook) in virtually one fell swoop- remarkably, which I was unable to find anywhere else online. ISBN (all about that), and copyright protection- its all there. And you can convert your book, add illustrations-

    Best yet, it costs NOTHING to convert a book. Anybody can do it in a day or less, and in many cases probably an hour or less.

    You don’t need Mobipocket, any HTML code, tags, or anything. Whew.

    Neil
    [promotional links to paid content removed]

  26. I have made an E – Book using the Mobicontent but on the book only images are showing, please help me what should I do ?

  27. Sorry, I can’t provide support for Mobi. I suggest trying their site or the Amazon forums. Best of luck…

  28. Christopher Miller

    1. use open office my old never used Word97 doesn’t appear to be able to create pdf files).
    2. create Text document.
    3. use “Format” to set page height to 4.75″, page width to 3.75″. (Screen dimensions of the Kindle2 I own).
    4. ‘Magnify’ the small page (one movement of the sliding bar to 153%).
    5. Pick your font type/size (I used Arial, 7).
    6. Create your doc (paste in pictures/bmp/etc. if you wish).
    7. Export as PDF (can’t “Save” as PDF) to hard drive.
    8. Hook Kindle to PC (USB port).
    9. Copy (or cut/paste) your PC PDF file to the Kindle.
    10. Results are perfect – enjoy!

  29. Hi, we are looking at using Kindles at work for giving Trainees study material. I have downloaded MobiPocket to create some quizzes to test their learning but now I have a problem.
    When I upload onto the Kindle it won’t let me open the quiz, saying that the item cannot be opened because it is licensed to a different user.

    Any ideas please?

  30. Hi, after reading this article of yours a while back, I now use Mobi Creator as well. However, I create my chapters with Notepad++ in html with one file per chapter. This takes care of the page break at chapter end. I experimented with tags and found out, that (while style attributes are largely ignored) …, …, (line break) (bold) and can be used without problems. Also the tag, which generates a full width horizontal line works just fine in Mobi Creator. Here is a little bit to show how I structure the files (I hope the code won’t be messed up in the post):

    Call of Dawn – I. In the beginning

    I. In the beginning

    In the beginning, there was darkness. Then the first word was spoken and became light, The First Mei………
    * * *

    • ummm… looks like it converts the HTML :-(
      @jwordsmith: if you are interested i can send you samples of how to get full control over one’s Mobi Creator output with HTML. That is, unless you already know better ^^

  31. Pingback: How to Create Kindle Ebooks — How To Make Ebooks For Kindle

  32. You can send the documents to the kindle for free, as long as they dont have to be converted, sooo, like documents that are.txt,or an already made book on your computer thats in kindle format. To do this, just send it in an email to @free.kindle.com. Ive done this a couple of times and it really is cool.

  33. Whenever I try to use this it just says import failed..

  34. Yup, sorry about that. They’ve just changed to formats and this is now out of date. I’ve updated the text above but you should probably visit the kindle digital publishing page for the latest options: http://dtp.amazon.com

  35. I’ve found the ebook on Mobis to look like total crap. Totally different from the .pdf. Very difficult to deal with. Also, when you convert them to a Kindle ebook they look even worse. What to do??????

    • What are you converting from? And what are you trying to achieve? If you have a book with a rigid layout then may look like crap beause ereader a are designed to allow the human reader to tweak the content: make the font bigger, rotate the content, change it to two-column etc. PDFs are designed specifically to prevent that.

      Are you converting from a PDF? From a Word file?