Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Business of Writing: Introduction to Amazon's Kindle Book Previewer

c2015 by zzoplanet.
Depositphotos ID:86051516.
I have been a programmer since the days when to program a computer meant flipping a series of switches on its console—and a deck of punched cards was a vast improvement. 

So please forgive me if I geek out on you a bit and get technical today. I promise I will make it up to you next week. :D

Amazon tops my list of companies that I love to hate (with Microsoft and Google coming in a photo-finish second and third, in case you were wondering), but earlier this year the wit-heads behind the arrow-smile rolled out a feature that I actually like: the embeddable Kindle book previewer.

Before I get too far along, I want to give a shout to author Stacy Juba. It was via this blog post of hers that I first learned of the embeddable Kindle book previewer. Thanks, Stacy!

Why would you want to avail yourself of the Kindle book previewer?

I can think of several reasons:
  • The cover images are stored on Amazon's servers, not yours.
  • The covers load faster for blog visitors.
  • The latest cover image is always displayed.
  • Amazon gives you access to "Preview", "Buy", and "Share" options without a visitor ever having to leave your page.

The good news is that implementing the Kindle book previewer is as easy as 1-2-3, as shown in Amazon's tutorial on this page. The process allows you to generate either a link or a chunk of HTML code.

In case you're too busy to click the link, the basic steps are:

  1. Display the Amazon product page of the Kindle book for which you want to generate the preview link or code.
    NOTE 1: If you are an Amazon Affiliate, do not display the page with your affiliate tag; Amazon's browser software doesn't know how to process that, and the page will sit and spin forever. Not to worry, however; they give you an opportunity to specify your affiliate ID in the code-generation popup window.
    NOTE 2: The most compact form of the link for your book, without having to grind it through link-shortening software, is
    For example:
  2. On the product page, click the "<Embed>" link. It is located in the same line with all the other sharing options (email, Facebook, etc.) underneath the long bar that reads "Add to List".
    NOTE: If you are working off a tablet, laptop, or (God help you) an even smaller screen, you will have to scroll down a bit to find the <Embed> hyperlink.
  3. On the popup window, select either the "Get a link (URL)" (default) or "Embed on your site (HTML)" option, and then copy the result by clicking in the display area and pressing the <CTRL> and <C> keys. (To dump the contents of the paste buffer into another application, press <CTRL><V>.) These are near-universal hot-key shortcuts.
    NOTE: If you have an Amazon Affiliate ID, click the link to enter your ID before you copy the code or link. Type your ID where they tell you to, and the system will update the result as you watch. Then click in the box displaying the code or link, and copy it.

If you have requested a link, you will see something like this:

To save yourself the hassle of steps 1, 2, and 3, create a copy of the above link and replace "Your_Books_ASIN" and "Your_Amazon_Affiliate_ID", or delete all text beginning with "&tag" to the end of the string if you don't have an affiliate ID, and you're all set to embed the link.

The link code gets pasted between the "" in your <A HREF=""> HTML tag.

If you have requested an HTML fragment, you'll get:

<iframe type="text/html" width="336" height="550" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen style="max-width:100%" src="
&tag=Your_Amazon_Affiliate_ID" ></iframe>

Same drill as with the link as far as customizing this fragment for your needs, but do not delete the "></iframe> part at the end of the fragment.

Next time, I'll go into detail about how to customize the HTML to "float" the book's cover with text flowing to one side or the other, as shown below, as well as reducing the cover's size as in my sidebar's images.

Meanwhile, happy embedding and promoting!


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  1. Thanks for such a great explanation. I didn't realize that this option was available.

    1. You're welcome! IIRC they rolled it out in early March, at about the same time they began allowing e-books to be used in giveaways. Thanks for visiting & commenting! :)


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