ADC Punch List

No, it’s not something that one makes before sitting down around the Thanksgiving table. From Wikipedia, a punch list:

…Takes its name from the historical process of punching a hole in the margin of the document, next to one of the items on the list. This indicated that the work was completed for that particular construction task. Two copies of the list were punched at the same time to provide an identical record for the architect and contractor. [citation needed]

Although, I suppose, a punch list could be used for nefarious purposes, Mandated Memoranda Publishing formulated and used one to develop and market our newest book: A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation. We refer to it as ADC.

We’ve become fairly practiced at generating Kindle books. We’ve reported on our eBook development for previous books: Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder and Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven.

Earlier descriptions give more insight into the detailed development. As we’ve said before, your mileage may vary. Please consider this list as what it is: steps in a conditional and evolving process meant for adaptation and improvisation.

As an amusing aside, we helped surface a software bug in the Kindle Fire HD device’s Kindle Reader application (version 9.5_1190027510 (before Oct. 28, 2014) progressing to 9.5_1190027710 (as of Dec. 4, 2014)). According to some Amazon Customer Service representatives, it’s been widely reported from multiple users. I managed to send Amazon a device log to examine (using the Fire HD device’s help service). Additionally, one worker was able to duplicate the issue on her Fire HD device with her own book selection. It seems to occur generally with all Kindle eBooks.

We assured ourselves it was a device application issue by downloading our eBook (the AZW file) to our PC. Then we ran Kindle Previewer, version 2.923 in Fire HD emulation mode to check the book cover under midnight, sepia, and normal backgrounds. It rendered correctly and repeatedly in emulation mode. We also tested four randomly selected books we had purchased before the update (system update 4.5.1) was installed.

This testing followed running the original KDP generated MOBI file of our own book through a full Quality Assurance schedule using Kindle Previewer in E-Ink, Fire, and iPad (w/ side-loading) modes. We also tested the original KDP generated MOBI with the Kindle PC application and an AZK file side-loaded onto an iPad. Our book rendered correctly on all platforms but the Fire HD device. We almost halted publication because of the issue but went through with it anyway based on our intuition and experience.

What happens when the issue occurs is that any eBook’s cover (the JPG or GIF image at the book front) renders correctly when the selected background is midnight. It renders incorrectly when the background is changed to sepia or normal (white). The cover is surrounded by a background toned frame but the cover is either blacked (or whited) out or obscured by a dark semitransparent overlay.

The phenomenon is repeatable so long as the book is open. Once the book is closed and reopened, the issue changes. In this second instance, the cover renders correctly with sepia and normal background, but this time the midnight background obscures the cover.

One Amazon Customer Service rep said the issue was viewed as content related (i.e., the eBooks were at fault). She recognized the issue was a device application issue.

The best analogy I can give is this. Pretend you’ve taken a photo with your phone. You view the photo with the camera app and it looks good. You decide to improve how the photo looks so you open a photo-enhancement app on the phone. There, the photo is blacked out. Puzzled, you reopen the camera app. The photo is there and seems unchanged from when you took it. You close the camera app and reopen the enhancement app. This time the photo is whited out. Concerned, you email the photo to your PC where it looks just as colorful as it did in the camera app. Clearly, the enhancement app on the phone is at fault, not the photograph itself.

The photo represents all Kindle eBooks. The camera app and the PC app represent all Kindle Reader apps except the one on the Fire HD device. The enhancement app on the phone represents the Kindle Reader app on the Fire HD device. It is the Kindle Reader app on the Fire HD device that is at fault.

I hope Amazon Software personnel find and fix the bug (perhaps a test software artifact left active after product release?). Not resolving the issue could adversely affect all Amazon eBook sales this Christmas buying season. I wouldn’t want to be on the customer service staff if it is not fixed.

Obviously, these are our personal observations and opinions. EBook development seems never to be without excitement. Maybe it will be different next year? We resolved the previous bug we reported on our own (a rectifiable Windows ‘run with graphics processor’ selection for Kindle Previewer’s phantomjs_mobi82html executable file). Not so with this one, I’m afraid. As of yesterday, I think they still think it’s a data (or user!) issue. Such is the way of medium to large-sized software organizations.

POST UPDATE (12182014): Amazon has upgraded the Kindle Fire HD (3rd Gen) System software version to 4.5.2 and the HD device’s Kindle Reader to 9.6_1190216910. The reader was updated before the system software and appears to have resolved the cover rendering problem. This puts Amazon software in the ranks of Microsoft who actually fix their issues in a timely manner rather than letting them linger for weeks, months, and years.

Here’s the structured procedure we followed in the development and marketing of A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation. We’ve also added some details on our HTML generation. This is our punch list:

Fact find from recent KDP newsletters

Kindlefy ADC version 1 – 3

  1. Add ISBN
  2. Spell check and search for errant spaces
  3. Create HTML
  4. Prepare Two Structure Files (Check To Press archive)
  5. Create File Folders (Check To Press archive)
  6. Update Kindle Previewer (KP)
  7. Generate MOBI and AZK files using KP
  8. Examine with KP (use spreadsheet for QA)
  9. Examine on Fire, PW, and iPad
  10. Revise original and go to 3 or Finish

Revise Blurb (do word count based page estimate ~130 pages; ASIN assignment)

Author interview, ADC Status, and MM posts: ADC status, Author interview (hit themes: Economic divide, Jobs automated, AI demons, War, and Population), Character Interview, Excerpts (?)

Dry run finalization of manuscript and generation of PDF

Recheck KF8 on HW

Start KDP entry for ADC [DO NOT SUBMIT]

Receive Copyedited Manuscript back from Kirkus (due November 17, received November 12)

Finalize manuscript, generate PDF

Submit PDF for review

Kirkus review ($575 for rush – suppressible if bad)

Books and Culture (?) – delayed

Publishers Weekly Indie aka Booklife (free if accepted)

Red City Review ($40) – delayed

Kindlefy ADC version 4

  1. Compare new manuscript with existing HTML (Use KDP generated version)
  2. Transcribe deltas into existing HTML
  3. Spell check updated HTML for transcription errors
  4. Buff em> versus i> and em> punctuation issues leave well enough alone (also French sp. not perfect; issue with images and font size, too)
  5. Repeat general HTML check over (used IE)
  6. Compare PDF source with HTML in Word
  7. Update Kindle Previewer (KP)
  8. Generate MOBI and AZK files using KP
  9. Do Kindle Fire only QA check on KP version
  10. Run KP MOBI (KF8) through KDP to get testable MOBI file, folders with HTML [check book data; DO NOT SUBMIT]
  11. Generate AZK from KDP file
  12. Examine KDP MOBI with KP (use spreadsheet for QA)
  13. Examine on Fire, PW, and iPad
  14. Revise and go to 3 or submit to KDP

Investigate Bowker listing?

Submit ADC for sale via KDP [Submitted to KDP Wednesday Nov 19, 2014, Published on Wednsday, Nov. 19, 2014] [ADC Pre-order unrealistic (Up to 90 days early; By Nov. 18 for 28 release?)]

Submit application for Copyright to LOC (need publication date)

Buy book and push to all devices, check out background color on cover issue

Follow up with KDP and Kindle development on this Fire HD device issue (kindle app version 9.5_1190027510).

Submit PDF for review:

Red City Review ($40)

Books and Culture (Free)

Update Author Central as necessary

Solicit reviews from Vine and other Amazon reviewers (see Dickens’s works)

Use Goodreads Authors program posts and adverts

Solicit Amazon Singles

Update Blurb/Press Release with ASIN and Amazon page estimate

Update MM Blog posts with ASIN and Amazon page estimate

Create PR Newswire Press Release from Blurb and Red City or Kirkus Reviews (Times Square and don’t forget Twitter Leisure, $400~)

Solicit other Reviews (if Kirkus Review good)



Here’s the HTML process:

On Word file (97–2003 versions seem cleaner upon HTML conversion)

Remove cover

Reinforce styles (especially in author bio)

Substitute en dashs for hyphens (to account for Kindle rendering)

Replace book signing image with jpg

Save as ‘filtered web file’

Name: Adolphus Writer

Title: A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation


Simplify page breaks as per KDP guidelines

Move ‘<a> </a>’ out of ‘<h1> </h1>’ for chapter titles

Change ‘a name’ to ‘a id’ in all occurrences

Fix centered stars custom style

Remove excess formatting styles (i.e., those not used in manuscript body)

Clean Styles

Add ‘../image/’ to JPGs

Add text size: 200%, 150%, and 120% to centered title, centered subtitle, and h1 respectively

Add back font variant small caps to centered title

Make sure all styles have text indent as appropriate (0pt)

Remove color, text size (except as specified above), spacing

Adjust margin left to 0in instead of 0.3in as appropriate

Replace i> with em> except for foreign words

Assure punctuation italicized appropriately (see copyedited version)

Remove font color, text size, text spacing, lang[uage] references, and all span references in text

There you have it. I wish you well in your publishing adventures.

ADC Cover quarter scale, Copyrighted, All Rights Reserved

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation Cover – quarter scale (copyrighted, all rights reserved)