calibre pictureWant to be able to read sideloaded books in the fancy KFX format with your recent-model Kindle?

Craving for dropped caps, hyphenation, better kerning?

Now, even if a book didn’t come from the Amazon store, you can enjoy the above features thanks to a new KFX Conversion Output plug-in for Calibre. Here’s the lowdown from MobileRead:

“The plugin is activated by selecting KFX as the output format when converting books in calibre. It performs the following steps during conversion:

  • Convert from the original e-book format to EPUB.
  • Use the Amazon Kindle Previewer to convert from EPUB to KDF.
  • Repackage the KDF data into a KFX container.

”Because the first step in conversion is to produce an EPUB and since the Kindle Previewer has no configuration options, the Conversion Output Options tab for KFX output is the same as for EPUB output.”

Please drop by the MobileRead posting from jhowell for more information, including relevant links and caveats. Alas, the plugin isn’t for the faint-hearted:

enhancedKindleFormat“Unfortunately, the Amazon Kindle Previewer often fails to convert books and provides no guidance on how to correct the problem when this occurs. Getting a book to convert successfully may require trial and error editing of the source format. If a conversion error occurs the plugin attempts to capture the most relevant error message from temporary log files produced by the Previewer. The error messages produced are cryptic, but better than nothing. View the conversion job log after an error occurs to see the messages produced by the Previewer during conversion.”

And still more: “This plugin has only been tested on the Windows platform. Compatibility with Mac OS has not been tested. It is unknown whether or not the Previewer will function under Linux/Wine.

”This plugin only converts from other e-book formats to KFX. It does not convert from KFX to other formats.”

Oh, the fun of the Tower of eBabel! High time for Amazon to abandon its proprietary formats (and really really lean on publishers to drop encryption-based DRM or at least it with the more benign social DRM). Yes, the KFX plug-in is a break-through. But not for everyone. I love Calibre, but must one really have to use it to keep up fully with the latest format changes at Amazon?

If Amazon wants to add formatting capabilities for typical e-books, then it should work within the International Digital Publishing Forum. Amazon can compete very well, thank you, in a number of areas ranging from price to selection, and the last thing we need is for the company to keep inflicting more complexities on users. Bring on the criticism. I’m sticking to my guns. Amazon, as much is ever, needs to do ePub.

(Via The and Nate.)


  1. Quote: “Getting a book to convert successfully may require trial and error editing of the source format.’

    Sorry, Amazon, but I refuse to do your work. Either offer me an easy and capable conversion path from InDesign to KF8, or live with the dismal results when I send you an epub. Apple worked with Adobe to make sure it export in excellent fashion both epub formats, fixed layout and reflowable. You can do with same with mobi and KF8. It won’t kill you. You’re the biggest online and ebook retailer on the planet. You can afford it.

    If you don’t and the result looks ugly, I’ll simply tell readers to place the blame where it belongs—on Amazon with its proprietary formats and unwillingness to play nicely with companies such as Adobe. That’s easy for me. I come from a long line of very stubborn people. My great-great-great grandfather stood up to the Klan in 1870s Alabama.


    For those with a conspiratorial bent, there’s a reason why Amazon is not only going it alone with proprietary formats but is refusing to support conversions to those formats using standard publishing tools. It isn’t pretty, because it suggest just how mean-spirited Amazon is toward authors and publishers.

    Take a typical publisher, particularly a small to mid-sized one, or perhaps an independent author with limited resources. Amazon’s size means that creating a Kindle version is a market necessity. By making that as costly and riddled with problems as possible, Amazon is doing what it can to ensure that publishers and authors then lack the time and resources to publish through other ebook retailers.

    Stated in personal terms, Amazon making your life hell so it can maintain its quasi-monopoly on ebook retailing. That’s one reason among many why I can’t understand authors who’re Amazon fanboys. It strikes me as a bit like walking about with a “Kick Me” sign on the back of your pants. I don’t do that. You shouldn’t either.

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