Amazon announces new format for Kindle ebooks

Last week, Amazon announced a new format for Kindle ebooks. Kindle Format 8 will replace the MOBI format, bringing support for HTML5 elements and CSS3 along with it. These will give ebook designers more control over the way text and visuals are formatted, whether in a textbook or a children’s book.

What seems at first like good news turns sour when reading Amazon’s FK8 FAQ: the new format will only be supported on the newest generation of Kindle hardware. As Guide Henkel points out, that means designers will have to design ebooks in multiple formats.

Already we had issues that the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 had capabilities the Kindle 1 did not possess. It was a big problem because things such as tables were unusable, despite the fact that the capabilities were built into the K2 and K3. Since authors have to make sure they cover the largest possible market share, however, using tables made no sense, as the Kindle 1 did not support them and rendered them in a useless, garbled fashion.

As Amazon introduces a new format, and new troubles with it, it continues to give the EPUB format the cold shoulder. The new EPUB3 standard has just been formalized, and Amazon’s exclusion of EPUB3 makes it clear that the ebook format wars will continue for the foreseeable future. For more on the impact of KF8 and EPUB3, read this post at the eReport.