News

Amazon to accept ePub files

Amazon has told US publishers that it will begin accepting digital files in the ePub format in the near future and will also allow users of its Kindle device to read ePub files.

Users of the Kindle have up to now only been able to use Amazon's own format, meaning they have been locked into buying e-books off the Amazon e-commerce site.

According to the Good E-Reader Blog, however: "Four publishers in the last week have confirmed that Amazon has indeed told them they now have an option to submit e-books to be listed in the Amazon store in ePub format."

In its comments section, the blog author added: "One specific company when listing off formats they were distributing left off Amazon, when asked they said Amazon was coming out with big news and they were no longer submitting books in Amazon's own proprietary format and that they would only be using ePub because of changes to the Kindle and the store."

This could be due to the Amazon/OverDrive deal with Lending books in Libraries soon though.

The development has neither been confirmed nor denied by Amazon, which doesn't seem to have been approached by the blog. If true it represents a big development towards the quest for one common standard file format, and would ease publishers' production costs as well as offering interoperability between different devices.

Commentators said the move would also allow Amazon to break into the library lending market more easily as part of its deal with OverDrive since most files available on OverDrive are in ePub. It was also suggested that the switch would mean Amazon would no longer have to maintain its own costly format, and could take advantage of any further developments in ePub, particularly ePub3, which will allow publishers to make enhancements to their digital files.

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Will ePub3 finally enable eBooks that don't look like they've been typeset by a primary school pupil using Windows 3.1?

The main problem is that ePub is designed to work on things with any screen size, from phones to PC monitors. As such, there's not really any such thing at the moment as ebook 'typesetting' - the whole point is that the type is reflowable and not set. It makes ebooks convenient and portable, but not necessarily beautiful; it's a trade-off.

ePub 3 will give us a few more tricks, but you still probably won't be able to get everything looking quite so nice as print.

Exactly. The technology is closer to HTML publishing, you can use all the fancy fonts you want but it won't display in the same way on other machines. Imagine trying to typeset for a paper book where the page sizes, bleed area, paper density and so on change with each copy printed. Of course you can just use PDF, but you'll frequently end up with wasted screen space, text that is too small to be readable, or RSI from constantly re-zooming.

Technically the Kindle supports several other formats beyond Amazon's, and you've always been able to buy books for it from other vendors. It supports Mobipocket and Palm DOC, for instance. I have literally hundreds of books in those formats that read just fine on the Kindle.

So I can just download a mobipocket book from the public library and transfer it to my kindle by usb and I WILL be able to read it on my kindle????

Yes, as long as it's unencrypted.

Mobipocket is owned by Amazon and is the basis for the azw format, PalmDOC changed names in 1997 and ceased functioning in 2002 so neither of those are really valid arguments. The two primary formats for ereading are AZW which Amazon uses and EPUB which the other 116 ereaders use. It just makes sense that Amazon finally comes on board.

There are free converters out online if you want to read epub on Kindle. They work. Not high quality, but you can read it. Google for some.

Kindle + epub & pdf. that's would be a terrific news! Hope it will happen soon.

Kindle + epub & pdf. that's would be a terrific news! Hope it will happen soon.

Re e.Fingertips earlier comment about fonts, it is not recommended that fonts are embedded in ePubs.

Good news. As with any new technology, the big players will have to drag themselves kicking and screaming into common standards. As for the weird typographical effects one frequently finds in published ebooks, some creators have yet to realize that typesetting just aint what it used to be -- the reader now gets to decide the font and size he wants to read. Take it from an old hot metal printer who knows the difference: it's a whole new ballgame and we're a long ways from Gutenberg and even Merganthaler.

Will ePub3 finally enable eBooks that don't look like they've been typeset by a primary school pupil using Windows 3.1?

The main problem is that ePub is designed to work on things with any screen size, from phones to PC monitors. As such, there's not really any such thing at the moment as ebook 'typesetting' - the whole point is that the type is reflowable and not set. It makes ebooks convenient and portable, but not necessarily beautiful; it's a trade-off.

ePub 3 will give us a few more tricks, but you still probably won't be able to get everything looking quite so nice as print.

Exactly. The technology is closer to HTML publishing, you can use all the fancy fonts you want but it won't display in the same way on other machines. Imagine trying to typeset for a paper book where the page sizes, bleed area, paper density and so on change with each copy printed. Of course you can just use PDF, but you'll frequently end up with wasted screen space, text that is too small to be readable, or RSI from constantly re-zooming.

Technically the Kindle supports several other formats beyond Amazon's, and you've always been able to buy books for it from other vendors. It supports Mobipocket and Palm DOC, for instance. I have literally hundreds of books in those formats that read just fine on the Kindle.

Mobipocket is owned by Amazon and is the basis for the azw format, PalmDOC changed names in 1997 and ceased functioning in 2002 so neither of those are really valid arguments. The two primary formats for ereading are AZW which Amazon uses and EPUB which the other 116 ereaders use. It just makes sense that Amazon finally comes on board.

So I can just download a mobipocket book from the public library and transfer it to my kindle by usb and I WILL be able to read it on my kindle????

Yes, as long as it's unencrypted.

There are free converters out online if you want to read epub on Kindle. They work. Not high quality, but you can read it. Google for some.

Kindle + epub & pdf. that's would be a terrific news! Hope it will happen soon.

Kindle + epub & pdf. that's would be a terrific news! Hope it will happen soon.

Re e.Fingertips earlier comment about fonts, it is not recommended that fonts are embedded in ePubs.

Good news. As with any new technology, the big players will have to drag themselves kicking and screaming into common standards. As for the weird typographical effects one frequently finds in published ebooks, some creators have yet to realize that typesetting just aint what it used to be -- the reader now gets to decide the font and size he wants to read. Take it from an old hot metal printer who knows the difference: it's a whole new ballgame and we're a long ways from Gutenberg and even Merganthaler.