Amazon Now Rejecting eBooks Made With Calibre

The open source ebook tool calibre has been able to make Kindle ebooks for several years now, and for mot of that time Amazon has accepted those ebooks into KDP with scarcely a murmur. While they often looked down their nose at the app, it wasn’t until very recently that  Amazon decided to start refusing to let authors submit ebooks made with it.

I found  thread over on MobileRead that a conversion specialist started earlier this week. The tech reported that one of their customers had had a book bounced by Amazon. After first sitting on the ebook for close to a month, Amazon finally gave this explanation:

Our technical team has found that the content of your book was created by ‘Calibre’, hence it is not buyable on our web site.

Please upload your book in either a MOBI file created by KindleGen or upload the content file in Doc/HTML format. The book will then be made buyable and searchable in the next 24-48 hours after republishing.

Thank you for your immense patience and understanding during the time it took to research this issue.

That’s a first, not just for the specialist but for me and pretty much everyone who has submitted ebooks to Amazon. While Amazon doesn’t much like the fact we use unapproved tools, they’ve never gone so far as to refuse them simply because of the tools you used.

In fact, the only times I’ve heard of Amazon rejecting ebooks (including a retroactive rejection) were due to technical issues in the ebooks like poor image quality, horrendous formatting, and the like. (They also reject ebooks because they’re public domain or simply junk, but that’s not an issue here.)

And it turns out that in this case calibre probably did introduce some technical issues when the Kindle ebook was made. Another converter responded a few hours later with a similar report as well as a possible cause.

The problem is simpler than I expected. Calibre recently got the ability to make the combined KF8/Mobi ebook files that Amazon really wants you to submit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a very good job. According to Kovid Goyal, the primary developer of calibre (in reply to another comment):

If you were generating plain old MOBI files then that is highly unlikely as calibre’s MOBI output has not had any significant changes in a long time. If you were generating combined MOBI/KF8 then it is possible.

So it seems that Amazon might be rejecting ebooks because of flaws in how they’re made. That would be good news, because it means that you can fix and or prevent the problem by simply selecting the correct options while making the ebook.

I’d go back to simply making an ordinary Mobi ebook, at least for now. Leave the KF8 alone until the bugs get worked out of calibre.

But if you absolutely have to submit a KF8 ebooks, you could always try KindleGen or the Kindle Previewer. Both can make the new KF8 ebook format for you.

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18 thoughts on “Amazon Now Rejecting eBooks Made With Calibre

  1. If KindleGen had been capable of producing chapter indicators on my Kindle 3G Keyboard version, I would never have looked elswhere. And let’s face it, who runs Command Line programs these days?

    1. KindleGen/Previewer creates chapter indicators just fine and always has. And Previewer is not command line, so just use that like everyone else.

    1. I used Jutoh for my ebook and was quite pleased with it. User interface is pretty easy to get your head round, and it generates good files. (Well, I tested the files on various different platforms/apps, so if there are any problems they’re not visible at that level.)

      As I recall it doesn’t take Word docs directly. The workflow I settled on was to prep the document in Word 2010, save in Open Office format (which it turns out you can do), feed that into Jutoh and fine-tune the styles there. Or, of course, you could just work in Open Office to start with.

  2. A Linux beta of Scrivener is also available. I have not published yet, but have begun moving my writing to Scrivener on Linux and Windows.

  3. I believe that it’s true that the real problem with Calibre and Amazon is the technical quality of the files that are submitted, not the fact that the file was created using Calibre. When Amazon finds a bad file and sees the telltale bits of code and metadata that Calibre adds to the MOBI file, then Amazon makes an easy call and says to not use Calibre. It’s easier than giving a detailed report about why your file stinks. They get far too many submissions to do that. In fact, more than one submitter has complained about the vague, boilerplate response that they have gotten when their file was not accepted.

    All I can add is my own experience: none of my standard MOBI files has ever been rejected by Amazon for using Calibre to create them. I still do it. My clients still do it. The readers of my book still do it. No one has complained to me of any trouble. Just the opposite. I regularly get feedback from submitters who still, recently, even since Amazon’s crackdown supposedly began, publish Calibre-created files successfully to KDP.

    As far as Amazon preferring KindleGen or perhaps MobiPocket as a creator for your files: that’s not necessarily true, either. Amazon readily accepts, and converts, a well-formatted EPUB file into KDP, with no problems, and neither KindleGen nor MobiPocket create EPUB files.

    Again, I believe that it’s the quality of the files that you submit that counts.

  4. Good riddance indeed. Calibre convert low quality books and purchasing books made with that tool feels like a rip-off. If a publisher can’t format their book properly then don’t publish at all. Honestly I downloaded some books at Humble Bundle and most of them are formatted badly. Missing meta tags (genre, ISBN, description, etc) and the covers are not nice. I take it upon myself to correct these books some I even recreate totally because a certain book was formatted so bad you just can’t concentrate reading.

  5. Calibre is an excellent example of unfathomably over-hyped crapware. One of the worst, most disappointing pieces of “software” I’ve ever tried.

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