Friday, January 27, 2012

The Guide

The guide, and I know this from personal experience, plays an important role in a mobipocket book. Not so, for an EPUB book. In EPUB Straight to the Point Elizabeth Castro says the guide is optional, its purpose to identify the role of the different files making up the book.

Not so in its mobipocket manifestation. Here, it serves as another table of contents, only this time for the "book" menu in the Kindle (or other mobipocket reading device) by turning the anchors created in the .html-formatted novel into selectable links. The Mobipocket Developer Center (see sidebar) describes guide items as content for the book’s "Go to" menu in the eReader.

For the Kindle, the "guide" requires only two anchors. Indeed, if I interpret Joshua Tallent's guidance correctly, only two are used by Kindle, the novel's "#toc" (the book’s table of contents) and "#start" (in the case of my book, River's Bend, the "start" is Chapter 1).

Other mobipocket devices use additional anchors and you can expand the guide if you like. River's Bend uses only the #toc and #start, since I figure if I can get the reader (by this I mean the human reader) to the toc, he/she can get anywhere else in the book.

If the guide is not formatted correctly, the reader can't get anywhere short of clicking the device's forward and reverse buttons. I know, because the "guide" was the last thing I had to unravel to get River's Bend to work correctly in mobipocket format.

I had trouble with River's Bend's "guide" section from the moment Mobipocket Creator produced the first .opf, but it was not until a month had passed following my first warning- and error-filled "build" and I had uploaded my hand-made files into the Creator's Publishing window and created a seemingly flawless "build" that I realized something was still wrong. In the Kindle Previewer, when I clicked on the Table of Contents in Kindle's menu on the top bar, I went to the cover. I couldn't get to any of the chapters, including chapter one the designated "beginning" (#start) of my book. Always, I went to the cover.

It took a little while longer and another review of the Joshua Tallent book to zero in on the "guide", which, in the section of his book of the same name (chapter 7), he states quite clearly that if the reference in the guide is incorrect, "Kindle will not contain active links to the Table of Contents and the Beginning of the book." Well, the "toc" and "start" reference types were both there, but my error proved to be in the href. My guide read thus:

<reference type="toc" title="Table of Contents" href="Riversbend.html"></reference>
<reference type="start" title="Start" href="Riversbend.html"></reference>

What it should have read (and now does) is this:

<reference type="toc" title="Table of Contents" href="Riversbend.html#toc"></reference>
<reference type="start" title="Start" href="Riversbend.html#start"></reference>

I fixed, I rebuilt, and I uploaded to the DTP. Amazon blessed it and put it in the Kindle Store. I downloaded it to my Kindle. It looked nice. I'd worked long and hard on it. I was so proud of the thing. That's when I noticed that when filling out my data on my DTP dashboard I spelled my name with three "s"s--Charlsie Russsell. No one would find me by that name. Could I have been any dumber? I was sick, afraid it would never upload right again.

Well, I guess I just answered my last question, didn't I? Amazon corrected it. Piece of cake, but it did elicit a final gasp and one last curse from silly me.

Hope some of you will find my struggle with creating a mobipocket book of use. Thanks so much for reading, and once again, comments are appreciated--especially if you can contribute ideas to improve my efforts at mobi production.


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