How To Preview a Kindle File

Before you complete the publication of your Kindle book, you should preview it to check the formatting and look for errors. Exactly how to do this can be confusing but there are a few different ways:

  1. Use the downloadable Kindle Previewer program to view the epub file before you upload it to KDP
  2. Upload the Kindle file to KDP and use the online previewer
  3. Download the Kindle file from KDP and use the downloadable Kindle Previewer program or the Amazon Kindle app for Windows or Mac, or copy the file to an actual Kindle device.

First, when previewing a Kindle file, here is what to look for:

  • View the Kindle book, using all the different devices. Remember, people own all different types of Kindles of varying sizes, so try out some different device size settings to see how it will look on their Kindle.
  • Make sure the Table of Contents (TOC) is working. I always include both an HTML TOC and an NCX TOC, so check them both.
  • Check for improper page breaks. There is no way to control where text breaks from one page to another (because of the different device sizes and settings) but if there is an improper page break, it will be obvious on certain screen sizes. Page break problems sometimes come up when there are graphics in the book, so check those carefully.
  • Check the overall style of the book. Is it a acceptable? Remember, we have to keep the style somewhat simple. There are thousands of different Kindle devices out there, with each user’s font settings and line spacings, and if we apply special styling to make the book look good on one device, it might look very bad on someone else’s device, giving the reader a poor impression of the book. I’ve tried to figure out how to do drop caps in Kindle books, and it looks great on some devices and horrible on others. And KDP recommends to NOT use embedded fonts in Kindle books–it is safest to stick to standard fonts.

1. Use the downloadable Kindle Previewer program to view the epub file before you upload it to KDP

This is how I preview all files before I send them to clients. The steps involved are:

  • Download the Kindle Previewer program at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765261 and install it on your computer
    Get Downloadable Kindle Previewer
  • The program should place an icon in the start menu so you can run it. Here is where it showed up in the Start Menu of my Windows 7 PC:
    Kindle previewer 1
    The program installs in a very strange place. On my Windows 10 PC, it installs to “C:\Users\glenn\AppData\Local\Amazon\Kindle Previewer”:
    downloadable Kindle Previewer install location
  • Open the program, click “File  –> Open Book”, then browse to the Kindle file on your hard drive (if it is a file I have sent you, the file will have an “epub” extension), and open it
  • The Kindle Previewer program will convert the epub to a mobi file and open it for previewing.
    kindle previewer screenshot e-ink
    The mobi file will be saved on your computer in a subdirectory of the location of the epub file. You can also view the mobi file with the Amazon Kindle app for your computer or copy the mobi file to your personal Kindle device and view it on a real Kindle.

2. Upload the Kindle file to KDP and use the online previewer

  • Upload the ebook to KDP as if you are going to publish it. You upload the book in “Step 6: Upload Your Book File” in the “Book Details” page for your book. Don’t worry, you can always upload it again to overwrite the old version, and the book won’t be published until you hit the “Publish” button on page two of the KDP Book Details page.
  • In the KDP “Book Details” page, go to “Step 7: Preview Your Book”. Click the button that says ‘Preview Book”.
    bookshelf 7Step 7 Preview Book 1
  • You will be taken to the Online Previewer.
    online kindle previewer E-INK
    After you’ve finished previewing your book, click the “Book Details” link in the upper left corner of the window to return to the “Book Details” page.

3. Download the Kindle file from KDP and use the downloadable Kindle Previewer

  • Upload the ebook to KDP as if you are going to publish it, in “Step 6: Upload Your Book File”. If you’ve already uploaded the book, you don’t have to upload it again unless it is a new version.
  • On “Step 7: Preview Your Book” on the Book Details page, click the hyperlink that says “Download Book Preview File”. This will download a mobi file to your computer.
    Step 7 Preview Book 2
  • Notice that there is also a link to the downloadable Kindle Previewer program if you haven’t already downloaded it.
  • You can view the downloaded mobi file with the downloadable Kindle Previewer program or with the Amazon Kindle app for your computer. You can also copy the mobi file to your personal Kindle device and view it on a real Kindle.