Ebook formatting 5: mobi to Kindle for iPad and iPhone

Posted: April 24, 2012 in School papers
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been taking an ebooks class this semester, and for my final project I decided to do a little formatting experiment. We learned all kinds of formatting and CSS in class, but a lot of what we learned didn’t work on every form of output. The same epub file might come out differently in Adobe Digital Editions versus iBooks. So I created a mini-ebook in both epub and mobi, with all kinds of formatting “issues” I could think of–colors, lists, images–and took screenshots of how they came out in different programs and devices.

So far, I covered epub to Adobe Digital Editions, epub to Calibre, epub to iBooks, and mobi to Kindle (computer). In this post, I’m covering mobi to the Kindle app for iPad and iPhone.

For starters, you can download the mobi here. But it is possible to get the gist of the experiment without downloading it.

Let’s see how the mobi displayed in Kindle’s app for iPad.


No problem with cover display, on page or in thumbnail (not shown). BUT, for some reason, the table of contents doesn’t work on this app, even though it worked on the desktop app. When I select the Table of Contents icon, I get a greyed out “Table of Contents (Not available for this title).”


Lots of fail here. The color, centering, and right-aligning worked. As for justifying, it looks to me like all the text is justified. But Kindle puts a hefty indent at the beginning of each line, whether you want it or not. None of the typeface changes worked. The font sizes are bigger and smaller respectively, but not to the extreme that they should be.


Everything is fine ’til we get to the ordered-within-unordered list at the bottom. 65535 instead of 1? That’s an odd mistake, at a spot where none of the other apps have had a problem. On the plus side, we avoid the anchor-as-hyperlink that some of the other apps created.


So basically, besides the existence of an image, none of this worked. We have the same issue as in the other apps with the middle- and top-alignment not working if the window is too small, and as in iBooks, we can’t resize the window to fix it. I took a picture of what happens when you turn the screen on its side:

As with iBooks, you get two columns instead of one big one, and some really extreme justification. Though I should point out that, while you can’t resize the window, you can zoom in on the images themselves.

No border and no floating image. Tisk tisk, Kindle for iPad!

Links and Backgrounds

Both links work, though the link to the website actually opens in Kindle, and you have to press another button if you want to open it in Safari.

This is the first app we’ve seen where the background colors touch, instead of a blank line in between. Looks cool.

Generally though, a lot of problems here, which is weird since the Kindle for Mac had almost no problems. So be aware as you are creating your mobi: just because it displays properly on your desktop does not mean it will translate correctly onto another device!

Now, here’s the real surprise: When I checked the mobi against the Kindle app for iPhone, it behaved EXACTLY as it did on Kindle for iPad! Not even iBooks pulled off that kind of consistency. Just a little odd, considering how much of a gap there was between Kindle for computer and Kindle for iPad/iPhone.

Next, let’s check out mobi to the Kindle device itself.

  1. Sara Boyle says:

    I’m doing e-publishing this semester, I’ve found your blog here really interesting, thank you

  2. Sara Boyle says:

    ps- i laughed out loud at the “crazy? i was crazy once”

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