As we’ve reported here before, Amazon has been cagey in the extreme about releasing the new Kindle Format 8, which promises a better reading experience for illustrated or otherwise visually complex books on its new devices.

There was much celebration at Shoto HQ as the Twitterverse lit up with the highly anticipated news: Amazon released the spec!

We eagerly downloaded all the tools and read the publishing guidelines document. It was obvious from the start that it would be a significant amount of work to get our books into the new format, but we saw that coming. The question was just how much work and how long it would take.

Others began to express their outrage and confusion almost immediately on various elements of the specification. For us, the key was whether the new spec describes how to build comics and graphic novels. It doesn’t. From page 24 of the guide:

3.13 Authoring Fixed Layout Graphic Novels/Manga/Comics

Graphic Novels/Manga/Comics, while similar to Children’s books, require additional instructions which will be released shortly. If you are interested in publishing this type of content for Kindle, you’ll find updated guidelines (when available) at

We (and others) are full of questions:

  • Do the new Kindle tools that were released accurately preview comics and graphic novels? Or do we have to wait for ones that do?
  • How many functions are unique to comics, vs. the book type Amazon does provide a spec for (children’s books)? We don’t want to start coding up our books on a guess and have to rework them completely when the comic/graphic novel spec is eventually released.
  • What’s the deal with Kindle devices other than the Fire? (This one’s been bugging people for a while. The tools Amazon recently released butcher KF8 files to unworkability for supposed “compatibility” with older devices, the function is totally useless.)
  • If our books won’t be compatible with non-Fire devices, do we have any ability to specify that our books are only readable on the Fire?
  • Why is Amazon not releasing the comics/graphic novel specification? Obviously it’s in use: as we’ve reported, DC and other publishers are releasing titles built in this format.

Meanwhile, in typical fashion, Amazon’s reps are zero help. Here’s the latest we’ve received from them, a cut and paste job in which they didn’t acknowledge the problem.


Thanks for your interest in the Kindle Format 8 Guidelines and Publisher tools.

At this time, we are unable communicate an estimated time frame for releasing additional instructions for formatting graphic novels.

Please keep checking our Kindle format 8 page here:

and our forums periodically for an update on this here:

Thanks for your patience.

The very large community around ebooks is trying to figure out some of the questions by picking apart the format, but it’s slow going and wouldn’t be necessary if Amazon gave a release date or even some additional guidelines.

So Amazon, if you’re reading, here’s our beef. We understand that you have deals going on with some publishers and not others. This is neither surprising nor a problem. If you were more transparent about what’s going on, rather than announcing things without dates and then stringing along small publishers and readers alike, no one would be complaining, they would just be excited about the new things. Instead we sit on our hands and readers and publishers have no idea what’s going on. This is bad.

The waiting continues. We’re eager to bring you our books in this new format, but we don’t even know if that’s possible at this stage, without the information we need to do so. Stay tuned.

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