recently begun promoting a way to enhance the reading experience on Kindle
books. X-Ray is a reference tool that can
be used on Kindle Touch and
later models, Kindle Fire
tablets, Kindle apps
for mobile platforms like your iPad or iPhone, certain Android devices, Fire
Phones, and Fire TVs. X-Ray has been available since 2011, but its usefulness
is limited in several ways. It is an English-only platform, and it only works if the author or publisher takes the
time to implement the tools.
I did not know about X-Ray
until after I published “The Second Mouse Goes Digital,” and I have yet to see
it work. I am currently learning about the process by adding X-Ray’s
capabilities to my recent novel, “Henrietta’s Journal: A Life of Compromise.” So
far, I have discovered that the process takes a great deal of time because you
must apply it to each of your books separately
Basically, here’s how it
1. You start by adding X-Ray
from the list of KINDLE EBOOK ACTIONS on your KDP Bookshelf (under the three
dots). The tool then flashes through your book’s manuscript and produces a list
of characters, places, and events that might need further explanations. When I did this for “Henrietta,” it
identified 237 different items to be described or identified.
2. You go through the list
one-by-one and decide whether you want to keep the term on the list. If you don’t
want to save the item, you can simply delete it. If you do keep it, you can
show alternate spellings like ‘shopping center” (USA) or “shopping centre” (UK).
I made another important decision at this point. Because this book is a novel,
with only a few main characters, the same character names popped up frequently (Henrietta,
92 times; Julien, 291 times). To avoid the repetitions, I excluded all of my
characters’ names, leaving in only the names of historical figures who played a
part in the wider story.
3. Next you must decide
whether you want to use the canned definition the program gives you, look up a
better explanation on Wikipedia, or write your own definition. And here’s where
it gets tricky. One frequently appearing term on my list is “St. Philip’s
Church.” The X-Ray tool gave me nothing. When I looked up the term on Wikipedia,
I found a long list of churches by that name from all over the world, but none
of them were the church in Charleston to which i was referring. That meant I
had to take the time to look up identifying material, such as dates of
construction, the architects, the reason for its prominent and problematic
location in the middle of the street, and its social importance. Only when I
was satisfied with my own description (limited to 1200 characters counting
spaces) could I mark that one term as reviewed and move on to the next.
Fortunately, you can do a few
of these at a time, but you need to finish the whole list before you publish the
definitions. When you are certain that you are finished, you click a button
that reads “Review and publish X-Ray.” Only then will your definitions and
explanations become visible to the reader. Is it worth it? That remains to be
seen. I’ll provide an update after I’ve finished converting “Henrietta.” But
don’t hold your breath!