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Old 08-27-2011, 01:20 PM   #1
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Amazon's introduces "Digital Replica" format

Along with Kindle for Mac 1.7 and Kindle for PC 1.7, released a few days ago, Amazon have introduced a new ebook format for their Kindle ebook store. Called "Print Replica", it is Amazon's solution for books with a page layout that is too complex to reproduce using their usual Mobipocket-derived ebook format.

A "print replica" ebook resembles a PDF version of the book. The page layout is fixed, and the only viewing options are to zoom and to pan. There's no font resizing or page reflow available.

This may explain why the format can only be read with Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac, as trying to read a fixed page size format on the relatively small screen of a Kindle is a sub-optimal reading experience, unless the fixed page size is the same as the Kindle screen. Amazon has not said whether current or future Kindles will support the format.

Another innovation introduced with this new format is the ability to rent ebooks rather than buying them. Books can typically be rented for between 30 to 360 days, although the exact limits will vary from book to book. And a rented book can be bought with full credit given for the rental fee, if bought before the end of the rental period.

Full details can be found in Amazon's Help pages.

Investigations of the format via free samples shows that it not only resembles a PDF, internally it is a PDF file, along with a few Amazon-specific extras that might be index entries, all wrapped in a Palm Database file.

[EDIT: Oh, and they seem to have the file name extension ".azw4". Thanks for the reminder, HarryT!]

[EDIT2: And under two weeks from the first appearance of this format, it's possible to strip the DRM (thanks to Apprentice Alf, et. al.), import into Calibre (thanks to Kovid Goyal and team) and extract the PDF (umm, me), through various tools from various groups. Amazing.]

Last edited by pdurrant; 09-06-2011 at 10:05 AM. Reason: .azw4 and update on tools.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:23 PM   #2
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Would these be the mysterious new "azw4" files, I wonder, which have been mentioned in another thread?
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:26 PM   #3
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Would these be the mysterious new "azw4" files, I wonder, which have been mentioned in another thread?
That appears to be the case.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:27 PM   #4
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Aha! I take it they can't be, you know..., yet?
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
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Aha! I take it they can't be, you know..., yet?
I doubt it, but I'm guessing that if a potential solution would incidentally make it easier for someone to "steal" rented textbooks, the current developers of... you know... probably won't be very interested in solving that particular dilemma.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 08-27-2011 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:40 PM   #6
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Good point! In that case I entirely agree that it would be best all round not to.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:43 PM   #7
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Just what the world needs, another ebook format. If they really need exact page layout, wht not just use naked PDF?
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #8
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Presumably because it's being done primarily for textbook rental. Pure PDF doesn't have time-limited DRM.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #9
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Aha! I take it they can't be, you know..., yet?
A little searching provided no "positive" results.
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Old 08-27-2011, 02:06 PM   #10
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We dont need an other format you morrons!!
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Old 08-27-2011, 02:08 PM   #11
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We dont need an other format you morrons!!
What would you recommend they use for time-limited DRM where the page layout is too complex for Mobi or ePub?
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Old 08-27-2011, 02:21 PM   #12
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Interesting-sounds similar to what Apple is doing with graphics-heavy/format specific books as well.
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:12 PM   #13
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Sorry, but these graphics-oriented textbooks and coffee table display items simply are a no-go on hand-held readers, even tablets which are uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time and suck batteries to death in shorter periods of time. There are some things that are better in their original paper format where the printer can fit the page size to the graphics requirements of the work.

What I would suggest is having a pure text display with a full-screen toggle to the graphic or image if it's really an integal part of the book. Panning on smaller-than-book-page-sized screens is as absurd and annoying as not being able to see all of a spreadsheet or photograph on your computer screen and having to mouse around to work the scroll bars. Zoom functions require yet more graphics and battery power which results in shorter charge life and more weight.

In addition, it is the cash-strapped student market that will be most opportunistic at finding ways to bypass DRM-like restrictions with which more mature readers are reluctantly willing to live.

Forget it for now.
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:58 PM   #14
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What would you recommend they use for time-limited DRM where the page layout is too complex for Mobi or ePub?
Tell me, what books would acctually need such a compley layout, that ePub would be unable to handle ? (Mobi, well, i don't really it's capability in term of layout)
Usually, this "need" for complex layout is created by the instinct to just copying the p-book layout, rather than adapting it so it work as an e-book.

Fixed fomat will never work becasue the screen size beteen a PC and a 6" reader is too diffrent. And if you really really insist on using a fixed format, there is already a fomat doing that job fine, it's called pdf.
As to "time limited", there is noting preventing adding a time limited drm on pdf. And DRM are just useless anyway.
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:14 PM   #15
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Tell me, what books would acctually need such a compley layout, that ePub would be unable to handle ?
An example that came up in a recent thread....



Yes this is one page, yes the layout is in fact critical to the author's intent.

And yes, textbooks, manuals and other documents definitely need more than what ebook formats can offer.

FWIW it sounds like they also tossed in Whispernet sync, annotations, etc.

I concur that PDF is preferable because it's more standardized. At the same time, I'm not surprised that Amazon preferred to brew up its own format, I can't see them liking the idea of dealing with a competitor's proprietary/closed format.
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