Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Kindle Supporting EPUB
Amazon will support the EPUB format later this year. Customers will be able to use Send to Kindle to download EPUB books directly to their eReader. Amazon is currently working on system integration and is expected to roll out globally in August. You will be able to send EPUB books using your Send to Kindle email address. The company will also add EPUB support to the free Kindle app for iOS and Android devices and the Send to Kindle desktop app for PC and Mac.
Amazon’s Kindle will only be able to accept DRM-free EPUB files, so it cannot handle books purchased from other e-book retailers. When you download a DRM-free EPUB book using the Send to Kindle feature, Amazon does not natively support this file format. Instead, they will convert the EPUB book to KF8 (AZW3), which is a modern book format with excellent typography. This will improve the readability of the book and make it compatible with any custom fonts developed by Amazon, such as Bookerly and Ember. When reading the book on the Kindle, you will have full support for Wordwise, X-Ray and be able to look up particular words and phrases in the dictionary and Wikipedia.
Send to Kindle will remove support for sending books to your Kindle in MOBI and AZW books, which are deprecated formats. They do not support modern typography. MOBI was actually one of the first formats the Kindle ever supported. The company bought Mobipocket in 2005 for an undisclosed sum and they specialized in a new book format and e-book reading software. This format eventually made it to the first generation Kindle in 2007 and has been used in many future generations. In 2011, Amazon developed Kindle Format 8, also known as KF8, it supported a subset of HTML5 and CSS3 Features. In August 2015, Amazon unveiled its new format, Kindle Format 10 or KFX. It supports a new composition and layout engine that adds dashes, kerning and ligatures to the text; e-books supporting this engine. eBooks on Amazon’s website that support the enhanced composition format are listed in the eBook’s description on its product page. KFX is known to be unbreakable, so far no one has been able to take an ebook with this format and break the encryption, allowing piracy.
EPUB became the official standard for e-book formats in 2007 and has undergone major revisions since. EPUB is the most widely supported XML-based (as opposed to PDF) e-book format; that is, it is supported by almost all hardware players. Amazon is essentially the only company to use its own book formats, while Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Books, Scribd, Overdrive, and pretty much everyone else uses and supports EPUB. This is the widely used format and if you want to download a book online, it will always be available as an EPUB file. You can find legitimate DRM-free royalty free books anywhere online where the copyright has expired and is available for free. Some people resort to piracy, and it’s easy to download hit titles from Torrent sites or private chat rooms. Again, if you pirate a book, the encryption has already been broken by the uploader and can be used to send the EPUB file via Send to Kindle in August. Obviously, I don’t condone book pirating, but I recognize that people do it anyway.
I think Amazon supporting EPUB is a bold move and will further increase Kindle adoption. That’s not already true for their line of e-readers, like the 11th Gen Kindle Paperwhite, but also for their line of Fire tablets and also for the Kindle reading app for Android and iOS. Amazon adopting EPUB, could be the deciding factor in switching to the brand and abandoning any e-reader they have used in the past. The only caveat? EPUB books cannot be purchased from Google Books or Kobo, the EPUB must not have digital rights management.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
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