Friday, June 3, 2011

Follow-up article on ePub for Amazon rumor


Re the rumor about Amazon switching to ePub soon which seemed to me to have a shaky basis (although, further down the road, Amazon might do it), the many possible alternate scenarios were described in detail in that blog article of May 20  The basis for the rumor, which seemed to involve wording of "submitting" e-books in ePub format was soft, because as documented, publishers have been allowed to submit ebooks in ePub since September 2010.

No more has been said about it in the news since that week,  although many ePub advocates have still been hoping that it was true.

However, I noticed the following paragraph in a well-written article by Eric Hellman, "EPUB Really IS a Container" :
' Although Amazon still uses the aging MOBI format on its kindle devices, it seems only a matter of time before the infrastructure accumulating behind EPUB pushes them into the embrace of the IDPF [International Digital Publishing Forum].  Already, most of the content flowing into the Amazon system is being produced in EPUB and converted to MOBI.

  Don't expect this shift to happen soon though; in his IDPF presentation, Joshua Tallent of eBook Architects described rumors that this would happen soon as "bunk" -- but it will happen sometime. '

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  1. You can read my fanciful take on the 'epub is coming to Kindle' rumor on my blog...I do think it will happen, just not as soon as nearly everyone would like.

  2. There are several ways ePub books can appear on Kindles and it helps to distinguish them.

    1. Books formatted as ePub get converted to mobi for sale by Amazon, with Kindle users viewing mobi documents. That's already happened and isn't that different from email conversions for Kindles.

    2. Kindles gain the ability to display ePub documents without conversion much like they now display PDF documents. That'd be new and would make many users happy. And, like acquiring PDF display, it wouldn't require any changes in Amazon's book distribution system. The PDFs and ePubs we'd display would be our own.

    3. Kindles can display ePub books checked out of libraries. That'd fit with Amazon's promise that libraries won't need to acquire mobi editions for Kindle patrons. It will also mean that Kindles would need to be able to display DRMed ePub, a step beyond #2.

    4. Amazon begins to sell THEIR ebooks in ePub format for Kindles that (thanks to #2 & #3) can already read DRMed ePub. This won't be an easy step, particularly if Amazon wants their new ePub books to have all the features as their mobi versions: locations, page numbers, stored notes, synching, and bookmarks. Adding those features will take some time, particularly at Amazon's end.

    My hunch is that mobi will become a legacy format and that Amazon will offer those who bought mobi ebooks in the past a chance to upgrade to ePub for free, I also suspect that notes and bookmarks will be lost in the conversion. This is the step that Joshua Tallent said was coming but not soon.

    Note the steps. #1 has already happened. That is what triggered the ePub on Kindles rumors. Getting #3 by the end of 2011 seems almost certain, since it involves public promises Amazon has about library checkout. And if Kindle owners get #3, they will almost certainly get #2 sometime before Christmas.

    My predictions?

    We'll be reading ePubs on Kindles and checking them out of public libraries before the end of 2011. But I doubt Amazon will sell full-featured ePubs until late in 2012 or perhaps 2013. Even then the conversion make take several years, since for existing titles publishers will need to either sign off on Amazon's mobi-to-ePub conversions or create their own ePub versions.

    Please don't stone me if I prove wrong.

    --Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien

  3. Michael/Inkling

    I get the feeling you may not have read which had a lot of sourcing on the Overdrive stuff and a few quotes from them and from Amazon that are key to what is happening with Overdrive in the Fall.

    Of, if you did read it, you disagree, but you don't mention it or how so I don't really know.

    The blog article pretty much matches Tallent's declaration re the rumor (by goodereader) of ePub support in the Kindle in the way that ePub supporters want it, as "bunk" ...

    We all agree that someday Amazon may support DRM'd ePub but it has nothing to do with any new "submitting" of epub files by publishers (explained there), and also Overdrive and Amazon quotes are pretty clear what is not happening in the way that ePub supporters want anytime soon with the public library processes.

    Outside of that, I do think that Amazon will make it possible to read non-DRM'd ePub though.
    That's a separate matter.

    But they've said that they are not using Adobe DRM for the library deal with Overdrive and that no other software download or other software use will be involved and that these will be directly delivered to Kindle users via WiFi by Amazon.

    Overdrive has said users will be able to select between ePub and Amazon, depending on 'destination' device.

    But there is a lot in that blog article... I'd like to know your thinking on the aspects noted in that...


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