Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Amazon to Support ePub

Jason Snell:

For years, Amazon has used the Mobipocket format (.mobi) rather than the ePub format for Kindle books. Recently it developed its own format, KF8 (and now KFX), and has been using that instead. Everyone else uses ePub. Publishers sell books direct as ePubs, but are forced to include .mobi versions for compatibility reasons.

But this is changing. Amazon announced that later this year, its email and drag-and-drop send tools will accept ePub format files. Amazon will then convert those files to KF8 and deliver them to Kindles, but at least the user won’t have to do the job themselves.

Update (2022-05-19): Tom Nardi (via Hacker News):

Native support for EPUB would make using the Kindle a lot less of a hassle for many folks, but alas, it was not to be. It wasn’t long before the original post was updated to clarify that Amazon had simply added support for EPUB to their Send to Kindle service. Granted this is still an improvement, as it represents a relatively low-effort way to get the open format files on your personal device; but in sending the files through the service they would be converted to Amazon’s KF8/AZW3 format, the result of which may not always be what you expected. At the same time the Send to Kindledocumentation noted that support for AZW and MOBI files would be removed later on this year, as the older formats weren’t compatible with all the features of the latest Kindle models.

If you think this is a lot of unnecessary confusion just to get plain-text files to display on the world’s most popular ereader, you aren’t alone. Users shouldn’t have to wade through an alphabet soup of oddball file formats when there’s already an accepted industry standard in EPUB. But given that it’s the reality when using one of Amazon’s readers, this seems a good a time as any for a brief rundown of the different ebook formats, and a look at how we got into this mess in the first place.

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