The Sad State of #eprdctn Software-Generated CSS


Amazon has just published a new version of its Kindle Publishing Guidelines. It ships with an awful lot ot updates but there’s one that stands out.

The following font fixes will be applied during the upload process:
• The font size used in the majority of the content will be normalized to 1em.
• The font-family used in the majority of the content will be moved to the root tag (body text).
• Forced font colors used in body text will be removed so the user may change the color of the text.

Well, it reminds me of something…

p.normal {
-epub-hyphens:none;
-webkit-hyphens:none;
color:#000000;
font-family:Times, serif;
font-size:0.833em;

font-style:normal;
font-variant:normal;
font-weight:normal;
line-height:1.2;
margin-bottom:0;
margin-left:0;
margin-right:0;
margin-top:0;
orphans:1;
page-break-after:auto;
page-break-before:auto;
text-align:left;
text-decoration:none;
text-indent:0;
text-transform:none;
widows:1;
}
p.standard {
color:#000000;
font-family:Times, serif;
font-size:0.833em;

font-style:normal;
font-variant:normal;
font-weight:normal;
line-height:1.2;
margin-bottom:0;
margin-left:0;
margin-right:0;
margin-top:0;
orphans:1;
page-break-after:auto;
page-break-before:auto;
text-align:left;
text-decoration:none;
text-indent:0;
text-transform:none;
widows:1;
}

This is InDesign’s standard CSS output.

“By sheer luck”, it is impacted by those three font fixes. And those fixes aren’t what you could call overrides, they’re alterations produced on an industrial scale in order to provide users with a minimum viable UX.

Maybe it’s time we acknowledge that bad CSS generated by authoring software is a huge issue. After all, this is why Nook decided to enforce users’ overrides by any means necessary in 2012

But what to expect from people who advise “viewing your ePub on iBooks or on Readium” because their default image output doesn’t work well elsewhere, including their company’s reading app?

(Spoiler: most users won’t view the ePub/Kindle on iBooks or on Readium if they purchased the eBook elsewhere and it doesn’t work.)

Oh and by the way, Adobe, it works in those Reading Systems because iBooks and Readium are overriding images sizing. 👏