Kindle Edition Books

I have just realized that there is no item type option for E-Books and Amazon Kindle.

I think we need both E-Book and Kindle item types because Kindle books have no pagination .

It would be great if Kindle item type will allow us to record chapter and location info, which I see as the best solution, adapting from APA 6th style 6.05. However, any other opinions on how to cite a Kindle edition is more than welcomed.
  • I don't have APA here - but the pagination/chapters for e-books would only be relevant for the in-text citations, right? And there, you can just select chapter in the drop-down of the plugin.
    Otherwise, I'm not sure to what extent Kindle editions would require something special - maybe mark them as e-books in the genre field? But as of now I'm not convinced we need even an e-books type - though I'm open to changing my mind, I just don't see which part Zotero currently can't do.
    I'm pretty certain no kindle item type is needed - no style guide fixes guidelines to a particular company's format and neither should Zotero.
  • Use the locator dropdown menu in the insert citation window from the word processor plugin to designate the chapter. There is an open ticket for supporting multiple locators-- can you find a citation style guide that dictates that the chapter _and_ location should be included?
  • @ajlyon

    Sorry my bad, I should have written APA manual section 6.05. That section describes how to cite direct quotations of online material without pagination. The idea behind why i suggest to use that is it is the only relevant topic that i found for KIndle edition citing because of no pagination.


    Yes by definition we can use book chapter item type and just write the location number to the page section with mentioning Kindle under edition part.

    However considering the growth of the e-book market, especially volume of kindle editions, it would be great to have "e-book" and "e-book section" item types that would left no need for kindle type.
  • edited December 19, 2010
    Just keep in mind that the item types in Zotero are best understood as a set of fields and a set of ways they tend to be styled. As far as I can tell, e-books require approximately the same fields and approximately the same styling as other books.

    Edit: No, that should read "exactly" the same fields and "exactly" the same styling.
  • edited December 19, 2010
    canarik - it would help if you could provide a sample of how you think a Kindle (or other e-book) should be cited in APA (or any other major citation style) - what both ajlyon and I don't see at the moment is, why it would be needed, or, in other words, what part of citing e-books correctly Zotero currently doesn't accomplish.

    edited for clarification.
  • Just keep in mind that the item types in Zotero are best understood as a set of fields and a set of ways they tend to be styled.
    Exactly! This ought to go in a FAQ somewhere.

    There is no way that there needs to be a special type for an ebook. A book is a book.
  • right - though in fairness to the original poster, existing item types (website, blogpost, forum post...) don't exactly help to clarify that.

    Out of curiosity, though, how would we deal with a (not unrealistic and partially already present) situation, where styles require electronic sources to be tagged, but vary in how - say APA wants "e-book", MLA* wants "electronic-book" etc. ?
    And that leaves out the issue of other languages, which would make this much worse still
  • According to APA 6th Manual, electronic books should be cited as below:
    Electronic version of print book
    Shotton, M. A (1989). Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency [DX
    Reader version]. Retrieved from
    Schiraldi, G. R. (2001). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: A guide
    to healing, recovery, and growth [Adobe Digital Editions version]. doi: 1 0
    Electronic-only book
    O'Keefe, E. (n.d.). Egoism & the cnsts in Western values. Retrieved from .asp litem I D~ 135

    When it comes to direct quotation of online items with no pagination in section 6.05 it says:

    Basu and Jones (2007) went so far as to suggest the need for a new "intellectual
    framework in which to consider the nature and form of regulation in cyberspace"
    (para. 4).
    In their study, Verbunt, Pernot, and Smeets (2008) found that "the level of perceived
    disability in patients with fibromyalgia seemed best explained by their mental health
    condition and less by their physical condition" (Discussion section, para. 1).

    "Empirical studies have found mixed results on the efficacy of labels in educating
    consumers and changing consumption behavior" (Golan, Kuchler, & Krissof,
    2007, "Mandatory Labeling Has Targeted," para. 4).
    In my humbling opinion, if we merge these two together, above solution that I mention above would work fine for e-books and e-book chapters.
    However, when it comes to Kindle edition it becomes confusing. Kindle uses location instead of page numbers. I have searched APA style related forums and some say the best way is to refer section 6.05 of manual. This might serve as a solution but what if we have 100 (or more) paragraphs in that specific chapter? Why do I have to count them?

    So my suggestion is to add “e-book” and “e-book chapter” (for edited books) types and under “e-book chapter” type giving an option for giving location like:
    Case studies are……………………………………. (George & Bennett, 2005, Chapter 10.Loc. 3780-4100)

    George, A. L., & Bennett, A. (2005). Case studies and theory development in the social sciences (Kindle Edition.). MIT Press. Retrieved from
  • edited December 19, 2010
    right - though in fairness to the original poster, existing item types (website, blogpost, forum post...) don't exactly help to clarify that.
    True; I've been complaining about this issue since before Zotero was "Zotero" :-)
    Out of curiosity, though, how would we deal with a (not unrealistic and partially already present) situation, where styles require electronic sources to be tagged, but vary in how - say APA wants "e-book", MLA* wants "electronic-book" etc. ?
    My first impulse is to say I wouldn't. This is one of those insanities where my very strong temptation is to draw a line in the sand.

    These style guides always do these seriously awkward things with new digital sources, and at some point, they're going to figure out there are better ways (if perhaps not until digital sources are the norm in 10 or 20 years).

    But ... if I was going to deal with this, I'd probably prefer to add a field (maybe call it "format"?) with a set number of pop-up values.
  • canarik - thanks, that's helpful. What I thought, though:
    For the format (i.e. Kindle, Adobe, etc.) use the "genre" field - I'm not sure of the top of my head if Zotero does this correctly in APA, but it certainly can be done easily if the info is in the genre field.

    For the "location" - use the respective field in the word-plugin as ajlyon suggests above.
    "Book section" is intended for sections of a book authored by different authors than the main author/editor(s) - not as separat entries for every chapter of every book (what a nightmare...).
    We might consider adding "location" as one of the options in the plugin (though to me that seems to be adjusting to Kindle akwardness) - instead, just use the drop down for "chapter" , enter 10 in that field and put "Loc. 3780-4100" in the plugin field. I'm not sure if everyone agrees on how to cite these (personally I say you shouldn't - the whole point of citations is to make them easier to track down - tying them to one commercial product, of which we don't know if it will still be around in 10 years seems a terrible idea, where other options exist.
  • For those reading this who aren't aware, e-readers allow for a user to adjust the size of the type on the "page". Thus, the page number is not relevant or even available. The problem arises when an electronic version of a book is available on different platforms (Kindle, Nook, etc.) and each version of the e-book has different structure. This becomes even more troublesome when public domain works are available as several different e-books each with somewhat different locations for the exact same sentence.

    Although I have a Kindle and use it for pleasure-reading and reference works; I do not allow my students to use e-books as citation sources. It is essentially impossible for me to check their sources without the student lending me his or her e-reader. I do drive people a bit crazy by checking reference lists for accuracy and to make sure that the cited document supports the point made in the manuscript. With books and journal articles I can request a physical or electronic copy of the reference source. With an e-book, I need to hold the actual device to see the cited material.

    There is another problem with e-books. The contents of some of them can change. With a printed book it is easy to identify that a book has a new edition. With my Kindle version of a particular reference "book" there is a new version every few weeks -- but with at least one of them, there is no notation of the "edition" or the revised date within the e-book. Every now and then I just download a new copy. However, there is no way to tell if the content about a particular topic that is in the "edition" purchased on December 19th is the same that was there on an edition purchased on September 19th. There can be several different versions of what appears to be exactly the same book! This creates a very strange citation problem. Like a website, the book's contents can change. But unlike a website citation, where you should include the accessed date, with an e-book you can't always be sure of the date the information it contains was "refreshed" by the publisher. The closest one can come to that is to include the purchase date in the bibliography listing.
  • There is a proposal to add a "Format" field to the Book and Book Section item types, with an eye towards addressing the e-book issue. See
  • @ajLyon I was thinking about pointing to my above comment in your sticky request for input. I've been looking through reference lists and bibliographies to see how authors are citing e-book works. It is clear that even when bibliography styles exist that electronic book citations can be formatted differently even in the same publication.

    As I pointed out above, because the same book can be available on different platforms and each platform will have different "page breaks" and location labels; it may be necessary to have a free-text field for the device brand and maybe even the model. Otherwise , if I cite a quotation from a book read on my Kindle the Kindle location may be different than that found by someone seeking the context of the quote when using a Nook.

    The larger problem for e-books and Zotero is that e-book publishing continues to undergo important changes. I believe that it is essential that Zotro not become locked into a particular citation-model that could become outmoded in a year or two. More and more, it seems as though the best way (while not the most efficient way) is to cite chapter number and paragraph number. That way, any e-version or printed version should get a reader close to the right place. It certainly will be tedious to accurately count paragraphs of a long chapter but maybe e-book publishers will add the ability to number paragraphs automatically.
  • edited December 26, 2010
    @DWL-SDCA , @ajlyon, @adamsmith

    I did some research after my latest post, it seems that DWL-SDCA is right about that same paragraph in the same book would have different location numbers in Kindle and Sony.

    However, regarding "font size" and "word per line" functions, his knowledge is not accurate. Those two functions DO NOT affect the location numbers in Kindle and Sony, so we can consider them as "permanent locations specific edition". Thus, with my suggested citation format there will be no problems.

    For Nook, pagination matches with the same printed edition and text size and margin settings do not affect original page structure. They just work like "zoom in" function.

    On the other hand, for the sake of following existing format and using it globally, we could stick to the APA manuel's section and paragraph number but as DWL-SDCA stated we will need an auto-paragraph number functionality on every platform and that requires software upgrades.

    Currently, I see no reason for demanding that from major e-book sellers, since existing citing format for e-books with pagination already works for Nook and Google. (By the way, I must say that although it currently lacks "bookmarking" and "note taking" functionality, Google e-books allow user to see scanned page of original printed version and it is great!). When it comes to Sony and Kindle (e-books with location) my suggestion on additional item type that allows you to put "section" and "location" information will solve the problem.

    On the other hand, in his previous post DWL-SDCA raised the issue of "access", since in each and every platform paid e-books are only accessible by its owner; so the only way to check the relevancy and accuracy of the given citation is to own that e-book.

    With all due respect, I do think that no one has the right to restrict the use of certain material due to the "lack of access to control". For me, this is an institutional issue and it is both universities' and e-book sellers' responsibility to solve this problem.

    If sellers want to gain a growing share in book market, they need scholars and students. Thus, they should provide a some sort of access to their content considering "plagiarism" and "fabrication" issues. (Ebrary and Netlibrary databases stand a good example of that)

    On the other hand, universities should "put pressure" on e-book sellers to have this access.
  • Since this area is still unclear, we're going to move slowly -- our goal with Zotero is to fill scholars' needs for bibliography and citation. The standards really haven't taken shape yet, so a single "Format" field may be all that we can do at this point. Pagination is important, but we really don't know what citation formats will eventually demand (and I imagine that search functions are going to be much more useful in this area than location-based pinpoints).
  • Just to update Amazon brings page numbers to Kindle software on devices. I hope an update will also come for PC software too.
  • @canarak

    I am still puzzled about what you meant when you wrote:

    However, regarding "font size" and "word per line" functions, his knowledge is not accurate. Those two functions DO NOT affect the location numbers in Kindle and Sony, so we can consider them as "permanent locations specific edition". Thus, with my suggested citation format there will be no problems.

    I have looked over all of the postings in this thread and cannot find a statement about font size and words per line. Am I missing something?
  • edited February 9, 2011

    Even if you change "font size" and/or "word per line" on Kindle they DO NOT affect the location labels. So they are permanent.

    However, this is no longer a problem for Kindle editions.

    Thanks to Kindle software developers, they fixed page number issue on Kindle devices. Starting with the newest version Kindle books will also provide actual pagination info besides location labels.

    I hope this function will come to Kindle for PC software soon.
  • I'm trying to digest all of the above and to think of possible solutions. Here are a few points to consider, in my opinion:

    1. eBooks are not going away, but will inevitably gain sufficient credibility to be trusted sources of citations (even if only because nothing else might be available to a student in the future).
    2. The dynamics of eBooks differ sufficiently from paper books to warrant a different source type in Zotero. I want to see at a glance whether a book is on my shelf or on my computer.
    3. eBook locations don't map to physical pages. Any attempt to do so is doomed to failure.
    4. Content in Kindle books map reliably to Kindle locations, but this reference system is not always available to other electronic formats.
    5. Mapping to paragraph numbers would be ideal. It's easy enough to find a reference in a paragraph. However, printed books don't have paragraph numbers, generally.
    6. An index consisting of the first 5 or 6 words of a paragraph of a printed work, linked to a paragraph number, made freely available online, could solve the lack of paragraph number problem in paper books. Future textbooks could be printed with faint paragraph numbers.
    7. In conclusion, I respectfully suggest that the paragraph number could become the universal reference mechanism for both eBooks and physical books in the future. An ISBN number, followed by a paragraph number, would mean the same thing, no matter whether you were referring to a web page, a Kindle book, another type of eBook or a PDF file, or a printed book.

    Thus, 978-0-19-532719-9:1 would always read "Nathaniel Currier made this print in 1849 ..."

    If the text of the book changed, a new edition would simply require a new ISBN, much the way it's done currently. In cases where there's no printed material, but only a web page, replace the ISBN with the URL.

    My 4 cents.
  • Personally I think that's elegant, but it's also still a good way off.
    So we may well have to consider implementing something e-book specific sooner.

    If the widely agreed upon solution ends up looking like what you suggest, it's pretty much possible with Zotero already, with the exception of 2), which you can achieve via a colored tag.
    But I'd be shocked if that happened in the next 10 years.
  • Thanks for your response, adamsmith - I'm investigating the colored tags.
  • Hi. I see this conversation happened a few years ago and I was wondering if there is any solution as to how to cite ebooks in Zotero. I'm using Chicago-Deusto and the sytle requires that one specifies in the bibliographic entry when using an ebook. However, I can't find a "format," "genre," or "medium" field in Zotero in the book item type... Should I use the extra field and if so how?
  • Yes, you can use the Extra field for that. The basic syntax is data-name-item, colon, space, data. For example:

    Medium: Kindle
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