An Open Letter to Please fix your “Look Inside” book previewer!

December 18, 2013 | By | Add a Comment


December 18, 2013

To: Ms. Daphne Durham, Publisher, Adult Trade & Children’s Books

From: Jon Sutz

Dear Ms. Durham:

Congratulations on your recent promotion to head up Amazon Publishing.

I am writing to share with you a serious technical problem within Amazon software, affecting self-publishers of pictorial e-books (like me), which I believe is now in your power to correct. Here’s a brief background, and examples of the problem I am facing, which I hope you will help to resolve it as quickly as possible:

After six years of work, my first book (actually an e-book), “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” is finally completed, and available for purchase at


Please go to this page to see an introductory video and background of what makes Shayna a “miracle dog,” and how she helped to save, and completely transform my life.

As a professional graphic designer for more than twenty years, with deep experience in page layout, I paid careful attention to ensuring that content-wise and technically, my book is formatted to provide an enjoyable reading experience. My e-book editor, Lisa DeSpain, is an electronic publishing veteran, and has deep experience in page layout. All our hard work was validated by the software that Amazon provides to its e-book authors, “Kindle Previewer,” which gives a simulation of what one’s book will look like on different reading platforms.

Unfortunately, I only recently discovered that Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, which enables prospective buyers to read some sample pages of a book before buying it, has a serious glitch in how it displays pictorial e-books – and it is making my e-book look like amateur hour. The most egregious problems are that Look Inside is incorrectly:

  • Making it appear as if every picture in the book occupies an entire page (or nearly so).
  • Does not employ page separators; the end of one section runs directly into the beginning of the next, often mid-page.
  • Displaying bullet points at the left margin of the page, with the content pushed over to the right.

Here are some examples of the first two items:

CORRECT: This what the beginning of my book’s Table of Contents looks like in Kindle Previewer.  Note that the picture of Shayna is but an accent:

The table of contents in Kindle Previewer

The table of contents in Kindle Previewer

INCORRECT: Yet here’s how the same page appears in the “Look Inside” previewer:


CORRECT: This is the first page of Section I, in which I introduce myself and a little about my background, as displayed correctly on Kindle Previewer:


INCORRECT: Yet when one clicks on “Section I” in the Look Inside previewer, this is what they see:


The quote at the top of the screen is actually the last part of the previous page – yet it is all sandwiched together here.  And I’m sure I need not explain how garish and unseemly it is for an author to appear to be pushing his own face, to that proportion, to prospective readers.

Lastly, aside from the garish, incorrect visual display, the Look Inside software claims that my book is an estimated 535 pages long – but this is due to it blowing up every picture to full-page (the Kindle Preview version is about 300 pages). This, again, must be a significant turn-off to prospective buyers, who may want to learn about Shayna, but aren’t willing to sit through 535 pages to do so.

Ms. Durham, as a veteran editor, publisher, and now, senior executive at Amazon Publishing, I’m sure you are sensitive to all the direct and indirect implications of what I’ve shared with you. I ask that you please do everything you can to resolve the glitch within the Look Inside software as quickly as possible, both for me, and for future Kindle Direct authors.


Jon Sutz


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