I'm trying to best convert my book to an e-reader format, initially for Kindle, but I really want something that will display on any e-reader.

My book includes a mix of both English and Korean and many structured tables of data. It is something like a reference book.

Currently, my book looks perfect in print form, and really good in PDF format. And that's as far as it goes. The Kindle version is pretty awful.

For starters, the tables don't display well on smaller screens. And the Korean doesn't even show up on some Apple products.

While I've been told to make the tables into images, if I do that they won't be searchable...not optimal...

The other issue is that Amazon's lousy conversion program that I used didn't make the TOC or index hyperlinked, and of course the page numbers have no usefulness in the e-book version.

  1. What format works with all e-book readers, if any?
  2. What should I do about the tables?
  3. How about the Korean characters?
  4. How can I put hyperlinks in? Does this require turning the whole thing into some kind webpage with HTML, or what?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

In fact, I have contact several services and they all turned down this job....not a promising result~

1 Answer 1


I do ebook conversions regularly. I can't answer every point in your question, but I can give you some general strategies.

First, the Amazon mobi format is hard and tricky to make a good ebook for. Also, you need to do a lot of testing for it. Typically, publishers create something which looks good in .epub format and then use Kindle Previewer to convert it from epub to mobi. The Kindle Previewer is actually an excellent and reliable tool https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1003018611 .

Generally epub/mobi files look better if you start with HTML as your source instead of an Office program like MS Office or Adobe Indesign. Here's the Kindle formatting guide: https://kindlegen.s3.amazonaws.com/AmazonKindlePublishingGuidelines.pdf

I don't know about Korean text/font issues,but I'm guessing that if you create a valid epub file (and convert to mobi) and if you use an embedded font, it should probably render fine. But it will probably require a lot of time to test.

Displaying tabular data can be hard for ebooks (even in English). It requires css media queries and sufficient testing.

Another option is just to leave it as PDF and sell the PDF using a service other than Amazon (See this: https://www.quora.com/Digital-Publishing-What-is-the-simplest-way-to-sell-single-PDFs-online You might use a service like Payloadz or Scribd to sell directly.

Aside from dedicated ebook readers, many people who own tablets can read PDFs perfectly fine. They will typically use PDF apps or something like Google Play Books or Adobe Digital Editions which can read both. The main problem is that the text isn't reflowable (or not easily reflowable). But hyperlinks and fonts and tables generally appear on readers just as it does when you edited it yourself.

So the question becomes: is it worth the extra time, money and aggravation to format and test an epub file for conversion to Kindle? Or can you live without having the ebook for sale on Amazon but being able to sell a perfectly formatted PDF on another distribution service? With a PDF, you only need to proofread it; you won't need to spend time testing on various devices and screen dimensions.

  • Thanks for this, I will take your advice for the most part. But I definitely want to focus on Amazon since I believe that offers the best chance to reach most of the world, as well as various ways to promote, and so on. Nearly everyone has an account and it is very convenient for people to buy from. I tried selling the PDF directly and even did some advertising...you know how many I sold that way? Goose egg, as they say in baseball. It's too inconvenient for people is my best guess.
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 12:32

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