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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Amazon launches Kindle Kids' Book Creator

If you write illustrated children's books for Kindle, Amazon have just released a new (and free) software tool you may like to check out.

Kindle Kids' Book Creator is designed to allow (and encourage) children's authors to create illustrated Kindle e-books that take full advantage of the extra possibilities afforded by KF8.

This new Kindle publishing format gives authors a range of additional tools and features. The idea is that they can use them to produce e-books that take full advantage of the capabilities of the new generation of Kindle readers, e.g. the Kindle Fire HD and HDX.

The new KF8 features are especially relevant to children's picture book authors. Among other things, they allow the use of higher-quality images, fixed layouts (both horizontal and vertical), and pop-ups. More about that shortly.

Although I'm not a writer of children's books myself, I'm always interested in new developments where Kindle is concerned, so I downloaded the software myself and had a little play with it.

When you first launch Kindle Kids' Book Creator, you will see the screen below. This is basically an introduction to using the software. Most importantly, it explains that you can either import a complete book in PDF format, or else you can import images (in various formats) one at a time. Note that you can't import Word files into KKBC. You can, however, import a PDF with text, and/or add text to images using text boxes in the KKBC editor.

Click on continue and you will reach the page below, where you add a few basic details about your book - all pretty straightforward.

Click on Continue again and you will arrive at the page below, where you are invited to choose your page layout. This is, of course, where you can opt for the standard vertical layout, or one of various horizontal layouts. The latter may well be more suited to illustrated children's books.

Click on Continue again and you will be able to upload your PDF or image files.

Once you have made your choice, you can click through to start editing. Here's what the editing page looks like...

You can insert text anywhere in your images by adding a text box. You can also include a feature that Amazon seems very keen to promote, the use of pop-ups.

The way these work is that when someone is on the page in question, for ease of reading all or any of the text can be made to stand out in a larger box. You can also have two or more pop-ups on a single page.

In Kindle Previewer pop-ups appear when you double-click on the text concerned. I suspect that on Kindle e-readers it may work a little differently, but as I only possess an ancient Kindle Keyboard, I can't verify that.

I have, though, posted a screen capture below which may give you some idea of what a pop-up looks like. In case you're wondering, this is from a demo e-book I created in a few minutes using some old photos.

Note that this screen capture was taken from the KKBC editing tool. In a published e-book you would only see the original (smaller) text or the pop-up, not both at the same time.

Once you are happy with your e-book, you can save it for publication. The software will then convert it to a .mobi file, ready for uploading via Kindle Direct Publishing (having first checked how it looks in Kindle Previewer, which you can download from the Kindle Kids' Book Creator page at the same time)

As you might expect from a company the size of Amazon, the software appears highly professional and in my testing it worked well. It's pretty intuitive, but there is also a PDF user manual if you need any extra help.

If you have any illustrated children's books on Kindle already, you may well want to think about passing them through this software. Not only will it give you many additional formatting options, Amazon themselves are highlighting children's e-books with pop-ups. Here's an example of the message you can already see on such e-books' sales pages...

To view a larger version of this, just click on the image. Use the Back button on your browser to return here.

It seems pretty clear that such e-books will have a marketing advantage in future, and Amazon may well choose to promote them preferentially as well.

Good luck if you decide to try out Kindle Kids' Book Creator yourself. I'll be very interested to hear about your views and experiences with it. Please post any comments or questions below as usual.

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