Kindle file format and Amazon’s walled garden

Why switch to EPUB when you control the mobi/KF8 spec and user experience?


A couple of weeks ago I interviewed the IDPF’s Bill McCoy about the current state of EPUB. As I mentioned in that conversation, EPUB is the format used by pretty much every device not named “Kindle.” But since the Kindle format is the most popular I wanted to get an update on it as well, so I managed to grab a few minutes with industry expert Joshua Tallent, founder and CEO of eBook Architects.

Key points from the audio interview include:

  • Beware of auto-conversions — They tend to lead to the most common problems in Kindle-format books. Some hands-on work is required for just about everything except the most basic content formats.
  • Amazon and EPUB — They accept it on the content ingestion side but Joshua feels Amazon benefits so much from their proprietary format that it’s unlikely they’ll ever switch to a more open solution like EPUB.
  • HTML5’s role — Yes, HTML5 is already used by KF8 and EPUB, but Joshua feels HTML5 will always require a container to define, manage and control the content and that HTML5 isn’t a viable standalone solution, at least not in the short term.
  • Enhancements required — Fixed layout capabilities are at the top of Joshua’s wish list but he also notes a few features of EPUB 3 he’d like to see implemented in Amazon’s format.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

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