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.

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3 Comments on “Amazon announces new format for Kindle ebooks”

  1. Christian says:

    I really like the idea of HTML5 and CSS support in ebook file formats… the potential is astonishing…. but open standards is the primary selling point for any device I purchase. Am I in the minority here?

  2. Barnes & Noble recently lowered the price of their Nook Color ereader. This was announced in advance of Amazon’s release of the new Kindle Fire. We are interested in looking at the Fire as a possible ereader for our library.

  3. swontech says:

    I agree, Christian, though “open standards” has become a marketing term that’s getting more difficult to analyze. HTML and CSS are open standards that are in use by every ereader, as far as I know. But just like web browsers, the way standards are used varies. DRM shuts down a lot of parties that had “open standards” on the flier.

    Louis, people have already expressed so much interest in the Kindle Fire that we’ve pre-ordered it to add it to our set of ereaders. We’ll spread the word when it’s in our hands and ready to be leant out.


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