Friday, September 24, 2010

D. H. Lawrence poems formatted for Kindle

I've been messing around with my new Kindle, downloading free books (e.g., Thomas Paine's "Common Sense") and turning other digital content such as PDF and HTML into Kindle-ready form. Amazon provides a free service to convert compatible documents into Kindle format, and loads them automatically onto your Kindle. Kindle owners get a personal email address which they use to convert content. For the Wifi Kindle owners, this is a free service, 3G version has to pay a small conversion fee unless they use a workaround.

My sister pointed me to a selection of D. H. Lawrence poems, and on a lark I formatted them for Kindle, adding a table of contents and suitable paragraph formatting.

If you would like my Kindle version of D. H. Lawrence poems, just download this html file, attach it to an email to send to your Kindle account, and voila, semi-properly formatted poems. Only Kindle owners can do this, and permission to send to the account is restricted to email addresses defined by the owner. Amazon receives the attachment, converts it automatically (within seconds for a small file) and shoots it back to your wireless Kindle, where it appears, like magic!

I say "semi" because, of course, one can't control the number of characters in a line of text, unlike the print world. Trying to set a lot of custom indentation is a big headache. Per instructions, I standardized all my paragraphs with the attributes of width="0" for no first line indent (the Kindle default is to indent) and height="1em" to add spacing between paragraphs (the Kindle default is no spacing).

There is an option to attach a CSS file, but when I tried to set styles for the p tag in it, that didn't have an effect. Instead, I had to set attributes (height and width) within each p tag.

I converted some short stories to Kindle format by copy/pasting into Dreamweaver. That's pricey software, there are alternatives. Avoid using MS Word if you're trying to create an HTML file, which is the closest approximation to Amazon's DTP (Digital Text Platform). There's an interesting convergence with an older definition for DTP, "Desktop Publishing".

Some handy references on formatting documents for Kindle:

Support gateway for Kindle Digital Text Platform

The Kindle Publishing Guide

The Getting Started Guide

DTP Formatting Guide

I thank Erin's Poetry Palace for the poems. There are lots of good poems there by many other poets, and educational resources, too.

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