Rumours are abound right now that Amazon is on the verge of providing support for EPUB ebooks on their Kindle eReader. What’s getting peoples tongues wagging is a post from an eReader blog* stating that Amazon is telling publishers to start providing them with titles in the EPUB format.
As vague as the details are from that post, there is some substance in the concept that Amazon are preparing to add EPUB support.
Back in April Amazon announced the introduction of their new Library Lending Program in co-operation with OverDrive, who [currently at least] deliver their ebook titles as EPUB files. The OverDrive blog also states, “[y]our existing collection of downloadable eBooks will be available to Kindle customers”. We also know that the Kindle Previewer software (for ebook developers) will import EPUB files, which internally converts them to MOBI.
Liz Castro, well-known ebook developer and author of EPUB: Straight to the Point, has her own thoughts on how the Kindle will support EPUB, believing that Amazon will just convert titles to their proprietary MOBI format for use on the older Kindles.
In my opinion, Amazon can do better than just convert the EPUB’s.
I’ll confess here that I don’t know much about the Kindle software system, but I would be surprised if they couldn’t run two different reading apps side-by-side. As for the hardware on the older Kindles; if they are capable of reading MOBI ebooks, there’s no real reason they can’t also read EPUB 2, perhaps even support the full EPUB3 spec.
Most, if not all, ebook developers will tell you that MOBI is an inferior ebook format to EPUB (not that this format doesn’t have its faults), add to that the features being developed for the upcoming EPUB3 and you have a strong case for why Amazon may decide to phase out their own ebook format.
If publishers and ebook developers are allowed to focus all their efforts on just one standard ebook format, then ebook production will take a great leap forward, which in turn will give the people on the streets better ebooks — at least in regard to features — and ultimately a better user experience.
* It’s unclear if this is a reputable source for such gossip, so I’ve made the decision not to link to this site. The article doesn’t really say alot but if you’re interested, a quick look on your fave search engine should bring them up.