Make more money on Kindle by reducing your .mobi file size

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I made ebooks for a client recently – the ebooks came out at 15mb. I’ve never paid much attention to file size, but she pointed out that, if you are participating in Amazon’s 70% royalty option, they charge a fee per MB every time your book is downloaded – right now in the US it’s $0.15 per MB.

Check the Amazon pricing page for the most up-to-date prices and costs.

At 15mb she would be paying $2.25 per sale!

So she wanted me to make them smaller….

Step One: Clean up the Code

First I went through and got rid of any extra code I code remove, and made sure it passed the epub checker here: http://validator.idpf.org/

(I’m using Sigil to edit the epub before converting to mobi).

That got it down to about 7mb, which still wasn’t good enough – $1.05.

Step Two: Reduce the Image Resolution

Kindle Fire HD will display 1200width… so you need images that big, but they don’t need to be perfect quality. Instead of “maximum” you can probably save them at “High” or about 60% quality…. people aren’t going to spend much time looking at your cover on your Kindle anyway, and it usually won’t be displayed full screen – ever.

They see it in the book shelf, click on it and it goes to about half screen size… to see it bigger they have to open the book and then scroll back to the very beginning of the book.

It was mostly the cover image, which I resized to about half – there’s also the logo, the dividers and the author photo I could have shaved down a bit.

The file is now 2.7mb – but that’s still a 40cent fee – if you’re selling books for $1.99 that’s about half your profit!

Step Three: Get Rid of Embedded Fonts

I took the same mobi file and ran it through Calibre, saving from mobi to mobi: the resulting file is only 794 KB.

It isn’t very pretty, but it looks fine and simple. You don’t really need the special fonts matching the print book, most ebooks don’t have them (probably for just this reason).

 

BUT WAIT!

I just checked my own KDP account and found the following:

One of my mobi files was 15mb – but after uploading it to Kindle it’s only 2.6mb – the delivery cost is $0.39.

The other was 4mb, but after uploading it’s only .7mb and costs $0.11.

The other is 7mb and it’s about the same

And these are big ebook files with loads of pictures and embedded fonts.

No wonder I never paid attention to file size before.

Should you worry about it?

Not too much. Whether you’re making your own mobi files or uploading a Word file for conversion, it’s probably going to end up pretty small.

On the other hand, you can earn more money by making your files smaller.

If you sell 1000 books, that 11cent charge is $11o – and the 40cent charge is $400!

Calibre is probably the best way to make small files… but then you can’t edit them if their are problems with the mobi. I tried exporting from Calibre to epub, then editing the .7mb file in Sigil, then converting with Kindle previewer, but it went back up to about 2.2mb (which KDP will probably bring back down to .7mb again or less).

It’s more important to be clean, and to work, and not be ugly. Especially in the beginning when you’re making first impressions.

So don’t tear your hair out. But once you’re selling 1000 a week, you can hire someone on Fiverr.com to figure this out for you and save some extra cash.

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book editor turned book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors write and publish bestselling books. FREE GUIDE: Sell your work without selling out.