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How to Make an XRay File for Your Kindle eBooks

Do you like to read background details related to the books you own? If so, then you’ve probably gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the Kindle’s XRay feature.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a brief description. XRay the name for one of the sidecar files for Kindle ebooks. This particular file contains content pulled from Shelfari like summaries, character details, locations descriptions, and the like. The file varies in the quality and size of the XRay file depends on what users upload to Shelfari.

And until I found this tool I thought that this feature was only available for the ebooks sold by Amazon. But now you can make your own. Or you can try, at least.

I think this is very neat tool but I also think it’s too much work (for me). I tried to get it working on a number of ebooks and I failed every time. To be fair, some of the ebooks I tried are older copies from Baen. They were pretty sloppy back then about entering all the metadata, some of which may not have been invented when I originally downloaded the ebook. On the other hand I also tried to get it to work with the first Harry Potter ebook. I failed.

But if you want to try it, you’ll first need install MobiPerl, which you can get here. You might also want to get the Windows GUI program; this saves you the work of running MobiPerl from the command line. After you have those tools downloaded, go the Xunwang website and follow the instructions there.

P.S. Note that while I’m not going to bother with this, I think publishers should at least consider it. If you sell your own Kindle ebooks then this is a tool you should learn how to use. It adds value to your ebooks and your readers will appreciate it.


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Hasson May 1, 2012 um 10:54 am

Can you provide a bit more detail as to what the Xray content might provide?

Nate Hoffelder May 1, 2012 um 11:06 am

It would include content drawn from a page like this:

Robert Nagle June 13, 2012 um 11:57 am

Amazon really hasn’t provided any documentation about what x-ray is about. If all it does is pull info from Shelfari, then that’s manageable, but it looks like it’s doing some sort of text processing as well. Yet another case where Amazon implements a mildly-cool feature and then never tells anybody how to use it.

Kate Lattey December 16, 2014 um 3:40 pm

Do you know much more about how the X-ray function works now, two years on? I have self-published four books on Amazon’s KDP platform, one of them is X-ray enabled but the rest are not. The X-ray enabled book also has a lot of highlighted passages whereas the others don’t have any, it has been suggested that the more people highlight passages in your book, the more 'popular' it is deemed by the Amazon robots and they enable it for X-ray? It’s not something it gives you the option to sign up for when you load the books onto their system. I’m just curious about it and wonder if there’s a way to enable the X-ray function on my other books, as it’s pretty neat. It’s not a best-seller by any stretch of the imagination (although I did have it free for 4 days recently and the download rate went up exponentially). I’m not sure when the X-ray feature went live but I hadn’t noticed it prior to that so maybe it was the 1k+ downloads it got from that. If you can shed any light, much appreciated.

Hut October 25, 2018 um 12:53 pm

Here is the KDP Help page on X-Ray:

Tips & Tricks:

And their full user guide to X-Ray (PDF):

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