Saturday, December 17, 2011

Those Elusive Files Required For a Mobipocket PRC

I may be a day late with this blog post, but I’m not a dollar short. In a week spent finishing up Christmas decorating, power shopping, wrapping, getting gifts and orders in the mail, and completing my Christmas cards, I still managed to figure out what files the Mobipocket Creator requires to produce a mobipocket.prc book for uploading to Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) and subsesquent creation of a Kindle book. PRC is a container format for the Palm OS PDA. PRC files are used by mobipocket eBook readers. I tell you this not because I understand it, but to let you know there is a connection between .prc and mobipocket, and what the Mobipocket Creator produces during the “build” process is a .prc file. The DTP uses that .prc file to create the Amazon.azw--a DRM or digital rights management-restricted format of the book. This is the Kindle book, exclusive to Amazon.

I love having all that straight in my head. I didn’t before. Here’s what happened this past week:

First, I discovered April L. Hamilton, author of Indie Author Guide To Publishing For The Kindle With Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, Mobipocket Creator & MS Word 2003 Or Higher. Joshua Tallent has a link to her book at his eBook Architects website. Ms. Hamilton’s focus (and here I allude to my last post) is the creation of a mobipocket.prc file for uploading to the DTP. From my point of view, Ms. Hamilton is to mobipocket what Elizabeth Castro is to ePub.

I downloaded Ms. Hamilton’s Indie Guide... and read it twice. I conclude that only four files are required to build a mobipocket.prc book in the Mobipocket Creator. Those files are:

1) The cover (embedded in the book’s .html file, but as is the case with a web page, for example, the graphic must be included in the folder or the system can’t display it)

Any other graphics in your book must also be included. In my case, I have a logo

2) The book in .html format

3) The Open Packaging Format (.opf) file, an .xml file that the Mobipocket Creator generates automatically with information provided by the author/publisher on the publishing page (Guide, Book settings, Metadata)

The .opf file consists of the book’s metadata, manifest, spine, and guide

4) The Navigable Table of Contents (toc.ncx) file, which the author/publisher creates manually, then uploads to Mobipocket Creator

Ms. Hamilton starts with making a clean, properly formatted Word document (.doc). This is what she prompts the publisher to upload to the Creator. From the Word document, the Creator formats the book into an .html document.

The conversion of a Word document into .html produces, in my opinion, messy .html. I create my own .html version of the book from the Word document before uploading to the Creator. BUT, I learned .html when I built my own website. Far from being an expert, I still know enough .html to be comfortable using it, and Kindle’s .html formatting is not complicated. Hence, I redirect interested readers back to Joshua Tallent’s book, Kindle Formatting. Mr. Tallent goes into great detail on formatting with .html, but abbreviates the creation process. Ms. Hamilton carefully walks the publisher through the creation process in her Indie Author Guide..., but scarcely broaches .html formatting for the book. By combining their guidance, I think any determined self-publisher can create a nice Kindle book on his own.

Note the qualifier, “I think.” I’ll let you know for sure next week. By then, I hope to have cleaned up River’s Bend in the Mobipocket Creator, produced the .prc version of the book, reviewed it in my recently downloaded Amazon Kindle Previewer, and uploaded it to the Amazon DTP.

My ultimate goal is to use the files I’ve created for River’s Bend as templates for my other three books and future books, allowing me to bypass the Mobipocket Creator automation of the .html and .opf files, uploading instead, clean, “build-ready” versions of the files to create the .prc file. The .opf generated by the Creator always will require manual changes/corrections and those corrections for my books will always be the same. Why redo the guide, book settings, and metadata, step by tedious step, every time I create a .prc version of my book?

Thanks for reading this week. Comments are appreciated.



  1. Amazing stuff,Thanks so much for this!This is very useful post for me. This will absolutely going to help me in my projects .

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    1. Thanks so much and glad you visited. I'm gearing up to put my templates to work on my second kindle book. I'll see how it works and I hope anything you glean from my efforts work well for you, too. And let me know.


  2. Once again great post. You seem to have a good understanding of these themes.When I entering your blog,I felt this . Come on and keep writting your blog will be more attractive. To Your

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    1. I don't know about understanding--I'm strictly a laywoman when it comes to the digital world, but I know if I can ever get the code downpat it should work every time. We'll see how well it goes on book 2.

      Thanks for visiting.

  3. I love it,Excellent article.I am decide to put this into use one of these days.Thank you for sharing this.To Your Success!

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    1. Zegaara, I finally got those files and mobipocket worked out, but I can never build a book without some effort--never goes without a hitch. Thanks for reading, Charlsie


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