As an example of the classic “always ensure your software is updated” mantra, I had the latest kindlegen installed, but Scrivener was pointing to an older version of kindlegen I’d installed Somewhere Else.
The specific PNG rendering bug I showed was fixed in between those two versions.
All other points remain valid, though.
So, feel free to include PNGs in your Scrivener projects. You’ll get a nasty ugly background, but at least it’ll be one that doesn’t look like a bad frame freeze of a logo from an early episode of Soul Train.
So, having admittedly not gotten the memo about transparent PNG graphics on Kindles, I tossed a transparent PNG into my Scrivener project.
And compiled for Kindle, which meant massaging the whole thing through Kindlegen.
What. The Actual. Fuck.
Compare with the PNG I added to the project:
I can kind of see what it’s doing: it’s creating a non-transparent background out of the nearest adjacent colors.
Transparent GIF: Also Nope
I thought, “Haha, well, there’s always GIF, right?”
Nope. Transparent GIF renders with a black background. Which, since I read with a black background, I thought I’d won the internet at first. Then I switched to a white background. Oops.
So What Are Your Options, Then?
JPEG, which has no transparent background, is probably your best bet if you want to stick with images. Generally, a JPEG file will be smaller than a PNG anyway.
Catch is, most e-reader apps offer: white background, black background, and some ivory background. There is no standardization, however. One app’s white may not be another’s.
So my recommendation for that would be to look at using a background color that permits high contrast (for the non-color e-ink devices) but still looks good on white, black, and sepia. A pale warm grey, for example.
Your other option is not to use an image at all for Kindles.
But If I Don’t Use an Image on Kindles….
Yes, that’s exactly right. Your compile process will be more complicated.
So let’s look at the workaround for, say, an image title on the book’s title page.
- Duplicate your front matter folder (or document; some people put most of the typical front matter at the back).
Edit the Title so that the non-Kindle version uses an image. (Yes, you could also make a different image for Kindle, that works too.)
EPUB Title Page
Kindle Title Page
In an ideal world, you’d have a backmatter folder for each different market, too, but I’ll go into that at a later time.
One More Tip
If you keep the names of certain files the same across multiple projects, e.g., your interior title pics always have the same filenames, then you can save those compile settings once and use them across multiple projects.
Not so complicated after all, right?
I’ve been writing so much the last couple of days I’d almost forgotten about my little demo project to show how to produce different e-books by vendor. (Why? So your Amazon version has Amazon-specific links, etc.) I should have that done this week.
Jacey Bedford has an awesome tip about keeping character viewpoints in order. Which now makes me want to add that tip into the sample project.
Diane Patterson has an awesome tip about how to easily keep track of new characters or add new information to existing characters’ sheets. This will save you a ton of time later and will help your copy editor (if your copy editor is doing your consistency editing). If you’re writing a series, it’ll not only help your copy editor, it’ll help save your sanity.
Jacey and I posted because of Jaine Fenn, who’s recently joined us on the Scrivener side. Also, Jaine’s book, Queen of Nowhere is Hugo-eligible this year. Which, I’ve been catching up with Jaine, so perhaps I should resort to reading out of order at this point.
I’ve officially joined the cult of Scrivener. Which, btw, it’s on sale right now for $20 instead of the usual $45.
Like other people coming from Markdown, you can use Markdown syntax in Scrivener, export your project to text files, and use Markdown syntax on iOS apps (like my much-loved Byword) ’cause there is no RTF (Scrivener’s native format) on iOS, really.
But, you say, then what?
Beholdify. You can wait to convert your Markdown until the very last second by checking it in the Compile options when you generate your final output.
So for those of us with books and books written in Markdown syntax, we can have it all. Finally.
You’re not one of the Markdown people, I can tell.
## This is an h2 heading
## This is an h2 too (sorry, couldn’t resist)
This is a paragraph with _italics_, **bold text**, and ***italic bold text***. You can also do *italics* with single asterisks if you swing that way.
And this is another paragraph.
This is an h1 heading
This is an h2 heading
This is an h2 too (sorry, couldn’t resist)
This is a paragraph with italics, bold text, and italic bold text. You can also do italics with single asterisks if you swing that way.
And this is another paragraph.
- No fussing with menu bars or character formats.
- No having to remember shortcuts for italics, bold, whatever.
Which is one reason I’ve liked Markdown all along. It gets out of your way when you’re putting the words on the page.