Musings on the New Kindle


So, there’s a new Kindle out, and there’s an interview with Jeff Bezos on USA Today:

Q: Why doesn’t Amazon support the popular “e-pub” standard used by your competitors and many libraries?

A: We are innovating so rapidly that having our own standard allows us to incorporate new things at a very rapid rate. For example: Whispersync (which uses wireless connections to sync your place in a book across devices) and changing font sizes.

I call Shenanigans on this line of argument. Kindle supports PDF and plain text files, for heaven’s sake! Plain text files don’t have Whispersync either, but it’s still nice to have support for other formats.

It’s not as if adding ePub support would be hard, either.

Want to see how hard it is to support ePub? Follow along.

  1. Go download the ePub version of this book. It’s a good one, trust me.

    Download the file

  2. rename the file from .epub to .zip

    Rename it to .zip

  3. Open the zip
    It's just HTML!

See, ePub is just a zip file full of XHTML.

So what’s the deal, can the Kindle not render HTML?

Nope. The new Kindle comes with a webkit browser, so I’m pretty sure it can handle HTML rendering.

There’s really no excuse for the Kindle not to support ePub.

I still have an old-ass first generation Kindle, that won’t even read PDFs, let alone ePubs. I read a lot of PDFs for work, and the old Kindle isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Although Amazon added PDF support for Kindle a few months ago, they neglected to issue the update for Kindle 1, to my great consternation.

I suppose I could stomp out in a huff and buy a nook, but I already have something like 60 books in the Kindle format.

So, despite my sense of indignation at the lack of ePub support and general grumpiness at being overlooked for the PDF upgrade. I went ahead pre-ordered one of the shiny new Kindles.

Vendor lock-in is a bitch.

3 thoughts on “Musings on the New Kindle

  1. Being an early adopter has its price. I don’t read much, so I have little desire for ebooks, but even if I planned on getting one, I would wait until the ebook reader format war is over to get one.

  2. @Daniel
    Yes, you can do conversions. It’s not even illegal. There’s a nice program called Calibre that will do it for you for free.

    The conversions generally work ok, but that’s not the point. Imagine if you bought an iPod, and it would only play AAC, but didn’t work with MP3s. That’s sort of the situation with the Kindle. ePub is the standard way to do ebooks (just like MP3 is for music), but the Kindle only reads Amazon’s screwball mobi format.

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