Amazon's LOOK INSIDE preview a disaster

I’m using Scrivener

After compiling what I consider to be a really beautiful version of my book for e-publishing – I uploaded the mobi file to Amazon and then – my heart sank when I saw Amazon’s LOOK INSIDE preview of the book on the book’s Amazon page.

The book opens with an epigram that is center set beneath the title of the chapter, In the LOOK INSIDE feature ALL of the body copy of the chapter has been converted to the small font size of the epigram – AND all of the text in the chapter is CENTER SET, which just looks ridiculous.

I can’t imagine someone wanting to read the book thinking they will have to wrangle with that formatting.

Subsequent chapters of the book, in the LOOK INSIDE preview, display properly, except for occasional big gaps between certain sections. Which is pretty ugly I have to admit.

In both test runs with the Kindle reader and the iBook format reader, the book looked gorgeous after having been compiled. This is really disheartening.

I’ve contacted Amazon and they claim it will be three days before they get back to me.

Any advice from this forum would be appreciated.



This is a known issue - a bug in Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview. Because of the mechanics of Scrivener 2’s Kindle generation, it creates a different CSS file for each HTML file (a Kindle file consists of XML and HTML files). However, Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview has a bug whereby it ignores which CSS files are specified in the HTML files and just uses the first CSS file it finds in the Kindle file. This completely messes up the “Look Inside” formatting since it will almost always end up using the wrong CSS file. It has been an issue for some time now.

Scrivener 3 doesn’t have this issue because for the brand new ePub 3 support, which is the basis of the Kindle export (Scrivener 2 generates only ePub 2 files and thus only Kindle files based on ePub 2), Scrivener now uses a completely different method of generating the HTML, and is thus now able to create only a single CSS file shared between all the HTML files in the Kindle file. This ensures that “Look Inside” on Amazon has no issues.

So currently, the only real way around this is to upgrade to Scrivener 3 if you have an OS that supports it. (This will require some re-learning of Compile because setting up a modern Kindle file under the new Compile is quite different from setting one up in Scrivener 2. We have a comprehensive transition guide available for Scrivener 2 users who want to convert their Compile settings, but a little extra work is still required for ebooks, which are now built on using styles.)

The only other way of doing it is to manually edit the files inside the ePub file to patch up the CSS file that is being used to contain the necessary formatting. That’s non-trivial, though, and will require knowledge of CSS and HTML.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news. It’s very frustrating and I had to pretty much rewrite the entire way ebooks are generated to fix it.

All the best,