Kindlegen: Preparing Books for Kindle – Cover Image

In the past few days, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing came out with an update to their kindlegen software to support the new Kindle Fire. The process is this: Prepare your document in your word processor (I use Open Office Writer). Export (in OO, it’s “save as”) as HTML. Then point the kindlegen software at the HTML file. This generates a MOBI file, which is what you upload via Kindle Direct Publishing

I’ve been pulling hair out figuring out how to get kindlegen to recognize a cover image. The suggestions in Amazon’s Publishing on Kindle: Guidelines for Publishers are anything but clear, and anyway don’t work when I try them.

But I did find something that works. I use Open Office Writer, but something similar should work in Microsoft Word. In Open Office, go to File > Properties. Click on the Custom Properties tab. If there are no custom properties for you to modify, then simply click Add. In the Name column, put “cover” (without the quotes). Leave Type as Text. In the Value column, insert the name of your cover image file, for example my_cover_image.jpg.

Save your file so you have it in the original. Next, export to HTML. Make sure the my_cover_image.jpg file is in the same directory as the HTML. Now, run it through kindlegen. It should recognize the cover. You can test this using the Kindle Previewer. When you click on the cover button at the top of the Kindle Previewer screen (the one on the left), it happily displays your cover image!

Why am I putting myself through this, you ask? For the answer, see The Unexpected Traveler project page at

Next, I’ve got to figure out how to get it to recognize my Table of Contents!

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4 Responses to Kindlegen: Preparing Books for Kindle – Cover Image

  1. Randy says:

    OK, yeah: I’ve read your other posts now and see that’s the more powerful approach, and should work for me. I have a huge backlog of books to Kindlize — about 20! — and this will help a lot. Thanks!

  2. dave says:

    Randy, you’re right, most people use Word. The feature I highlight uses Open Office—I don’t know the equivalent in Word. However, if you want to go into the HTML and make the adjustment yourself, you’ll find it in the <head> area. The tag looks like this: <META NAME="Cover" CONTENT="Brett_Concept.jpg">, where “Brett_Concept.jpg” is the file name of the cover image. Note that this works only if you feed the HTML directly into Kindlegen. If you use the OPF approach (see this post, a general overview of the OPF approach, or this post, a more detailed look at the OPF file). I have not yet figured out how to get Kindlegen to detect the table of contents directly. Rather, I’ve “graduated” to the OPF approach.

  3. Randy says:

    While this is useful — and a helpful thing when Amazon’s own site is so terrible at giving useful direction — I could use a little more help. I don’t use Open Office (or Word!) to create my HTML, since I want much more control over the output. What I want to know is, what is in the generated HTML that shows the cover image correctly and, more importantly, what HTML tagging “tells” Kindle that it’s a cover image (as opposed to any other image)?

  4. Ellie says:

    Hello–if you want to email me directly I should be able to help you with your Table of Contents. I work in Open Office too and making a clickable table of contents for Kindle is real simple once you know how. I bought a video tutorial on it and I’m happy to share the info.

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