To beta or not to beta for compiling an ebook?

Hi - I’m a prospective user running Windows 7, and I have some questions before I take the plunge and buy Scrivener. Specifically, it’s about the ebook formatting/compiling features, and whether to upgrade to the 3 beta or not.

I have a manuscript that’s nearly finished in Google Docs, and I’m interested in using Scrivener to make a pretty, final version to publish on Kindle. I’ve heard Scrivener has tons of great features and I’d love to dig into those as well, but for now, my primary motivation for buying it is to format/compile a professional-looking ebook.

However, I’m very concerned about the “Look Inside” glitch that many Kindle authors seem to have when they compile with any non-3 version. In one thread, KB said that you can “manually edit the files inside the ePub file to patch up the CSS file that is being used to contain the necessary formatting.” I have enough CSS and HTML knowledge that I’m not afraid to poke around and fix it myself if I can, though I’d still need to find some instructions on how to do it.

Now, I’ve read that Scrivener 3 has a whole new CSS system, and using the 3 beta to format it would avoid this glitch. But that presents another problem: If I understand the beta notes, compiling isn’t fully functional yet. That is to say, you can access many of Scrivener 3’s features, but you can’t actually produce a “ready-to-upload ePub” with the current 3 beta. Is that right? I don’t have access to a Mac at all - I only have an iPad, and I’ve read that the iOS version also doesn’t have a compile feature.

All in all, what would you recommend? Buy the older Windows version and use that for now, without upgrading to the 3 beta? So far, from what I’ve read, that seems like the only viable choice, even if it’ll be a hassle to navigate around the Look Inside glitch. I have a lot of time to put into learning the software and messing with CSS, but not really enough to wait for the full Windows 3 release.

Sorry if somebody’s answered all this before, or if this is the wrong subforum for this question. I’ve searched both within this board and on Google, but I thought it would be good to get all the answers in one place. Thanks in advance!

I haven’t downloaded the latest beta yet, but my understanding is that compile doesn’t work. So using the beta isn’t really an option for you at this time.

If that’s the case, then it seems to me your decision is, “Do I buy Scrivener Win 1.9 now?”

I’ve seen folks from the L&L team counsel prospective buyers in this situation, and their recommendation is always something like, “Buy Scrivener if the current version works for you.” That’s very fair advice.

In case you didn’t know, Scrivener is available to download and trial for free, for 30 days of usage. You should download the 1.9.8 version, go through the tutorial (important!), import some or all of your book into it, and play around, particularly with “Look Inside”, to ensure it works for you. Hack the code to see if you can make it work, and figure out if Scrivener is right for you. You can also download the beta and run that side by side with the 1.9.8 version. Eventually the beta compile will be further along, and maybe it will work better for you.


The iOS version does have a Compile feature, but it is much more streamlined than the desktop version.

You can download either the Scrivener 3 beta or a free trial of the current Windows release version for free. That’s the best way to decide if Scrivener will work for you.

The status of Compile in the current beta can be found in the pinned post at the top of this forum.

My own opinion is that assembling a publishable ebook is not Scrivener’s strongest feature, even on the Mac. If that’s all you want to do, there are purpose-built alternatives.


I’m going to have to second this. I absolutely adore Scrivener as a writing/organizing program (I love you Scrivener, really, I do), but generating ebooks is definitely not its strong suit.

While I recommend it to every writer I know, I agree that if you want it solely for making ebooks, you’ll likely be disappointed and should find an alternative. (But really, try it for writing if you haven’t already!)

(Also, the 30-day trial is 30 days of actual use. Meaning, if you use it 2 days and don’t touch it again for 6 months, you’ll come back to it with 28 days left.)

If you want to compile for Kindle, the BETA is at the moment not usable. It messes with some letters and signs and make them to hyroglyphs.
But 1.9.8. works fine with Kindle-files

Thanks for all the helpful replies!

With regard to ebook formatting, I’ll keep shopping around, but I still think Scrivener has a lot to offer - even if I don’t end up using it for that. Many of my other writer friends have used it and loved it for years, so I’m definitely going to download the trial and feel my way around from there. :mrgreen:

Make sure to do the whole tutorial once you start the trial. It can be a little scary and intimidating at first, so be warned. There’s a lot of great information in it, but at times, it’ll probably feel like information overload. (But most of it will be useful at some point.)

It really is such a great program. I’d use it solely for world bibles, even if I didn’t use it for writing (which I do, because I love it, thankfully).

What are some better alternative programs to use for compiling to Kindle (and epub)?

Compiling is what Jutoh does.
Also has a couple of guide books written by Julian Smart.

Or Sigil.

But lots of people just use Google Docs. Or Word.