I have used Scrivener for my last 3 novels on Amazon Kindle with the .mobi format and it has been brilliant. I recommend Scrivener to everyone for writing and also publishing.
However, in the last few days, a lot of authors have received notifications of their books being removed over formatting issues. Mine haven’t been removed but I did have this email about forced alignment.
With regard to the issue with alignment in your ebook, the content throughout your ebook is forced left-aligned. Please remove the forced left-alignment from your source file, and republish the corrected file.
I don’t see anything in the Compile menu around forced alignment. I just use the left justified setting to write in. But there is no option for “Do Not Justify” that I can see.
Can anyone help me with how to fix this “forced alignment” issue?
I have a feeling there will be a lot of other issues coming out as it seems Amazon has changed their requirements and made them more stringent for the Fire.
Interesting - and what a strange decision on Amazon’s part. Here’s what happens:
In Scrivener’s Compile (or in the editor), you can choose whether test is left-aligned or justified. Upon writing out the HTML, by default, Apple’s HTML writer won’t include alignment if text is left-aligned, because that is the default of browsers anyway. However, if there is no alignment included in the HTML, the Kindle justifies the text.
This means that we had users wanting their text left-aligned but finding it was coming out justified on the Kindle. Users complained, so I changed things so that the “left alignment” setting got included in the HTML. That, it seems is what is causing the problem.
I’m now in the process of reversing this behaviour for the Kindle - I’m making it so that any body text has no alignment written out if it is set to be left-aligned or justified.
Thanks Keith - but can you let me know what that means for my book now?
e.g. will you be releasing some kind of update? and I imagine that will take some time to do?
or should I be doing something manually to fix the issue in the meantime as Amazon are removing books that aren’t complying.
Thank you so much for your help on this - I think there will be other authors who have the same issue very soon.
This removes forced alignment from any left-aligned or justified paragraph in body text. It also gets rid of any “font-size” tags from body text that uses the standard font size (something specified in the guidelines; it’s never been an issue before, but I’ve removed that just in case).
Please let me know if Amazon reject the updated .mobi file or remove it again after you’ve done this.
Thanks Keith - the book is in a Daily Deal promo right now, so I will do this after Christmas - as they are not threatening to remove it quite yet. I’ll tell them it is in process.
I’ll let you know if it is still a problem after this.
I have reformatted the book, it looked fine on the test - but so did the latest version!
I have re-uploaded it to Amazon and informed them to let me know of any issues - so far nothing yet, but I will revisit this thread again if there is a problem.
I hope you can put this fix in the next release of Scrivener, as I’m sure others will have the same issue.
Thanks again for your help, brilliant customer service!
Sorry to bring up an old thread, but I am really new to Scrivener/kindlegen and have a question concerning this thread.
I do know that Amazon Kindle publishing guideline for the Kindle says:
So I understand your reasoning for removing the text align: left command from the recent version of Scrivener. However, I notice that the “KF8Samples” folder Amazon provides actually says to use ‘text-align:;’ to align paragraphs.
The fact that the samples folder has an example of left justification–applied to a paragraph–and that bullet #3 above ties the prohibition for italics and bold to the entire body and not to selected parts makes me wonder if the ability to force a left justify on a paragraph basis when exporting via kindlegen should be coded. After all, it is present for right aligned text generated by Scrivener which would seem to me to violate the absolute prohibition in the first ‘dot’ in the quote.
I don’t really see any point in adding some way of forcing left alignment, and it would be very difficult to implement. At the moment, Scrivener just doesn’t write out alignment in the CSS for left-aligned or justified text, which works well. You can still centre- or right-align text.
It isn’t a deal breaker for me but I personally would appreciate such a feature. It would be nice to have the ability to force left align under certain situations. Not having the capability is, in my opinion, a shortcoming for Scrivener’s interface to kindlegen. As you stated, center and right are available and not having ‘left’ just seems wrong to me–as if something is ‘out of balance’. It is also another aspect that is no longer under the author’s control when using Scrivener.
I don’t totally agree with Amazon’s guidelines unless they actually intended to ok left align upon a paragraph basis for I have several books in my Kindle library that are entirely left aligned–Scrivener for Dummies for one–and can see that under certain circumstances it is a desirable paragraph format even in ‘novels’ with text reflow particularly since a right indent cannot easily be obtained in any ebook format based upon HTML.
One can always create a source file with Scrivener/kindlegen and then edit the css file to add the trait followed by a re-compile with Preview but that is an added step which wouldn’t be necessary if Scrivener allowed it–for example only in a “Preserve Formatting” section as suggested by ‘AmberV’.
I’ll defer to you on the ease, or lack thereof, of implementing the feature. Being a retired software engineer I know that changes which on the surface seem simple are sometimes very difficult to implement–and there are quite often unintended consequences from even the simplest change.
I’m afraid I don’t understand why you would want this. Why would you want to force your readers to have left-aligned paragraphs if they have set their Kindle to use justified text? This is Amazon’s stance, and the whole point is that if you force left align or force justify your text, Amazon will reject your book. Scrivener is just following Amazon’s rules. If we changed this back, users’ books would be rejected. So, yes, if you really want to play with this, then the best way is definitely to edit the CSS files yourself…
Why I want it isn’t particularly important. It is suffice to say that there are instances where left align is the best choice–poetry, for example, and for that reason alone I believe the option should be left to the author, not to the production software.
There is no evidence that Amazon will always reject a book with some left alignment. There is even evidence that they will accept left justified books–for instance, the last Spencer novel (and some others) from Robert B. Parker’s estate–not to mention “Scrivener for Dummies” and the numerous textbooks I’ve mentioned. If Parker’s estate can make that choice for their publications why can’t the average user?
I can understand rejecting the suggestion if the cost/benefit ratio is too high for the coding to take place but to preclude it because you don’t think Amazon will accept any submissions with left align is a bit presumptuous. Of course, it is also presumptuous for Amazon to think that justified is better for everyone. A quick perusal of the online Kindle forums would quickly apprise one of the fact that there is a large and growing population of readers who simply despise having justified text forced upon them. Count me in that group.
Be that as it may, I don’t think the solution to the problem is letting authors dictate formatting. The solution is to add better reading controls to the reading software. Plus, actually hiring a few typesetting gurus and getting the e-book page presentation above the very low bar that the Web has set for text rendering, and up into the realm where fully justified text actually looks fantastic would help, too. What we have now is simple forcing, which produces ugly results. Even just intelligent hyphenation would help with that, but there are other aspects to presenting a page of text that the current rendering models are ignorant of that would make justification the kind of thing you don’t think about. Nobody floods the forums over paperback books not being published in ragged-right.
It’s not the justification, it’s the crappy typesetting. But I digress.
I can’t–or won’t --disagree with anything you’ve said but I will add that an obvious extension to the formatting capabilities of ebooks would be to allow the author to suggest formatting options based upon the content of the text.
For example, in the case of standard poetry, the author could put a suggestion around the text indicating that it should be centered/justified/right/left aligned and based upon the current font, page width, display device, phase of the moon, etc. the rendering engine would make the correct choice to follow or ignore the suggestion.
I agree that allowing authors to dictate the entire format isn’t necessarily the way to proceed. However, the opposite extreme is also true: do not remove all formatting options from the author’s realm.
You may have said it in jest, but it is a very accurate statement when expanded to the general. The number of personal options required is inversely proportional to the intelligence in the implementation of a product.
However—allow me to digress also …there will always be those that have different requirements. For those who put all of their art into their words an excellent presentation is all that is necessary. For those who place their art into both the words and their physical appearance more options are required or some of the art is likely to be lost.
I was responding specifically to the comment that Amazon shouldn’t be dictating the alignment model for everyone.
Whether or not there is a place for localised formatting adjustments is another matter.I think everyone can agree that local formatting adjustments are useful (and sometimes necessary). The problem, as Keith pointed out, is the technical difficulty for doing that under the current implementation. Given that it would be prohibitively complex to offer local ragged-right formatting, the best solution for now is to at least generate an e-book that authors can submit to Amazon without getting rejected. Whether readers want what Amazon dictates or not isn’t really our immediate problem. Our immediate problem is producing valid e-books.
I guess it is confusing to me that according to a strict interpolation of the Kindle guidelines Scrivener is already capable of producing invalid e-books. Scrivener has the ability to modify text in at least two ways that are in violation of a strict interpretation of the first bullet item under section 3.1 (I’ve reproduced it here):
Scrivener can already include the text-align: right and text-align: center attributes so why the insistence on not including the text-align: left attribute?
If the reason is solely based upon a perceived cost/benefit ratio then I can understand your reluctance to add the feature.
If the decision not to include the left align attribute is based in any way upon a belief that to include it in special circumstances would violate some Amazon requirement then by that reasoning the other text-align attributes must be removed from Scrivener and I haven’t heard anyone suggest that.
I believe a more reasonable interpretation is that left alignment attribute is acceptable providing it doesn’t apply to the entire body.
The reason is simple. Scrivener uses OS X’s standard exporters. These always write out the text-align value if justified, but not if it is left-aligned (because Apple’s exporters assume browser defaults). Users will almost always have their body text left-aligned or justified. Thus, if we don’t post-process the generated HTML and remove the text-align values for justified text (Apple’s exporters have never written out the left align value, so nothing has changed there), all ebooks generated will be invalid. This isn’t us interpreting the rules or a purely hypothetical - as you can see from the user up-thread, users have had books rejected because of this very issue. Although, yes, a user could still generate invalid text by making everything centre or right aligned, that’s a moot point, because really, who is ever going to do that intentionally? No real world user we’ve ever encountered. The current solution is a good one and not one that is ever likely to cause an issue for a real world user trying to create an ebook that abides by Amazon’s rules; I doubt anyone is going to find a problem with it outside if speculative discussions such as this - you admit yourself it’s not even something you need.
I do understand your reasoning–you aren’t worried about the right and center bits because you believe that no one will use them or if they do Amazon will set them straight and that taking the features out could cause more problems (bugs?) and isn’t worth the effort.
Personally I’d still like to see the left align restored on a paragraph by paragraph basis but I can see that won’t happen and I do agree that for the vast majority of Scrivener users it isn’t even a slight desire let alone a want or a need. If it were, I’d think a few of them would have said so in this thread.
I do hope that if Amazon ever clarifies their guidelines and it is determined that left align is OK on a limited basis as their samples seem to imply that the feature will eventually appear in Scrivener.
I’m still virtually 100% satisfied with the way Scrivener operates and really quite pleased that it exists.
There is no way to have it on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. It would require Scrivener to have a full styles system (which it may one day) or an extra alignment button for “no alignment”, which would make no sense for a single export format. I still don’t understand why anyone would see this as an issue, but I’m glad you’re still virtually 100% satisfied with Scriv.