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Old 08-27-2010, 07:22 AM   #1
ricsmania
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Lightbulb My take on Kindle x EPub

Hi,

I have seen many people complain about lack of EPub support on the Kindle. I have been thinking about it and I think I know why this happens.

It obviously isn't for technical reasons, because companies that are 100x smaller than Amazon manufacture EPub reading devices.

Amazon wants to sell books, not book readers. The profit margin on the Kindle is probably very small, maybe even negative (i.e. subsidized), because Amazon gets its profits from the Kindle books it sells.

Kindle doesn't support EPub because if it did, customers would have no reason to buy from Amazon, they could buy books from any other store that sells them.

It's the same business model as videogames, which are cheap (subsidized) but only accept games for that platform, or cellphones, in which you buy a cheaper or even free (subsidized) phone but have to agree to pay for the service for a given amount of months.

So the reason why why Kindle doesn't and probably never will support EPub is the same reason why you can't play a PS3 game on a XBox 360.

What do you guys think?

Last edited by ricsmania; 08-27-2010 at 07:22 AM. Reason: Typing error
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:32 AM   #2
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Yes, I'm sure that's correct. Amazon spent a lot of money buying Mobipocket, so naturally they are using that DRM technology rather than paying someone else (Adobe) to licence theirs.
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:41 AM   #3
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Amazon ought to stick to its current policy of ONE format for its ereader with DRM. It does support a couple of other formats -- notably PDF without DRM -- but the only format it sells is Kindle with/without DRM. That means customers do not have to make a choice at point of sale: they simply click "buy" and it works.

However, Amazon might consider (and I assume this is possible) a one-time per device software upgrade for a fee -- $10 for example -- which allows you to install a module which will recognize and decode Adobe ADE files. This would allow Kindles to borrow library ebooks from Overdrive -- the key differentiator of all other ereaders. And it would allow Amazon to avoid paying corporate wide royalties to Adobe for every Kindle made. Only those people who want to borrow such books on a Kindle need bear the expense. Amazon could position it as a "Library Upgrade" and promote Overdrive at the same ... downplaying the ability it gives Kindles to buy books in other stores.
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:42 AM   #4
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I think almost the entirety of the people out of this forum who are buying ebooks do not know in which format they're buying their ebooks and do not even care at all.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by SensualPoet View Post
Amazon ought to stick to its current policy of ONE format for its ereader with DRM. It does support a couple of other formats -- notably PDF without DRM -- but the only format it sells is Kindle with/without DRM. That means customers do not have to make a choice at point of sale: they simply click "buy" and it works.

However, Amazon might consider (and I assume this is possible) a one-time per device software upgrade for a fee -- $10 for example -- which allows you to install a module which will recognize and decode Adobe ADE files. This would allow Kindles to borrow library ebooks from Overdrive -- the key differentiator of all other ereaders. And it would allow Amazon to avoid paying corporate wide royalties to Adobe for every Kindle made. Only those people who want to borrow such books on a Kindle need bear the expense. Amazon could position it as a "Library Upgrade" and promote Overdrive at the same ... downplaying the ability it gives Kindles to buy books in other stores.
Alternatively they could provide unprotected ePub capabilities only. Adobe's ADE software is not necessary to read standards compliant unencumbered ePubs. We'd still be 'unable' to buy from most other stores and place it directly onto the device.

However then we would have support for the great range of free, public domain, self published and indie unprotected ePubs.

I doubt they will do it. But I would pay for it too though, it's annoying to keep my collection in multiple formats, even with Calibre and I would prefer to use a more open format.

James
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:36 AM   #6
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There is no reason why they can't support unprotected ePub.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:09 AM   #7
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In the Kindle world ebooks are Kindle books and PDFs, .docs, etc are personal "Documents".
Nice and simple.
No need to worry about file formats or DRM or techno-jargon.
It works for them; it works for their customers.

Now...
If they wanted to support library books they could provide each device with a separate PID that Overdrive could use with their Mobi-format library books.
If they wanted to they could simply pass out the word they would allow the porting of FBReader180 to the Kindle platform.
If they wanted they could sell a version of ADE for Kindle, as suggested above.
If they wanted, they could cut a deal with B&N (or even *buy* B&N outright) for eReader DRM'ed ePubs.
If they wanted, they could cut a deal with Apple for iBook-compatible ePubs.
If they wanted, they could add *their* DRM to ePub and create a fifth-flavor of ePub.
If they wanted.
But all of those things would simply muddy the waters for their mainstream customers and help the bottom-line minimally. (Some of them would draw unwanted government attention, too.)

Simply put, ePub support brings little of value to the Kindle platform that *Amazon* needs. The Kindle platform was defined and launched before ePub was even a paper spec and they're doing fine without it. They are happy to live and let live and we should be happy they do. At least this way there is room for competition between the two camps. And ePub is fragmented and messy enough on its own without Amazon getting involved.

Kindle has enough competitive advantages over their competition it can afford to be *perceived* as "lacking" in this one area.

Let's leave well-enough alone, for now, shall we?

Last edited by fjtorres; 08-27-2010 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:15 AM   #8
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However then we would have support for the great range of free, public domain, self published and indie unprotected ePubs.
Most if not all of which are usually available in unprotected Mobi as well, at least the stuff I've got. I guess the Google stuff isn't, but most of that stuff needs so much work that switching it to Mobi is just an extra 30 seconds.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:52 AM   #9
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Amazon should at least add ePub to the list of formats that can be converted to mobi via the @kindle.com conversion service.

Amazon licenses the Adobe Mobile Reader SDK for Kindle's PDF viewing features. The SDK also handles ePub. So they could add native support to Kindle for non-DRM ePub that way; or they could take the ePub code from Stanza (Amazon owns Lexcycle) and port that to Kindle.

For the library stuff, they need to get Kindle DRM mobi supported by OverDrive. Mobipocket DRM already is, Amazon owns Mobipocket, and evidently you can borrow this content, flip one bit, read it on a Kindle, and when the lending period is up, it disappears. So it doesn't seem there's much technically that needs to happen to allow library borrowing. It's 'just' a matter of contracts with OD and publishers.
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:07 AM   #10
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Seems to me that it is not in Amazon's interest to make the Kindle compatible with Overdrive library books.

Let's face it, Amazon's goal is to "sell" books. Folks that choose not to go through the steps of tweeking library books to work on the Kindle, find it easier to purchase the book from Amazon. I suspect that Amazon makes very little money on the Kindle, but has a very substantial continuing revenue stream from all the ebooks it sells.

cheers
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:45 AM   #11
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I think almost the entirety of the people out of this forum who are buying ebooks do not know in which format they're buying their ebooks and do not even care at all.
This is a great point.

I was reading an article at Teleread (http://www.teleread.com/2010/08/25/l...essarily-easy/) called "Lessons From Tech Support," by Chris Meadows, and there were two paragraphs in there that, IMHO, show why I think Amazon will never go to ePub (or will take forever before they even start thinking about it):

Say what you will about Amazon’s predatory pricing, or their refusal to support the EPUB “standard”, or what-have-you; what you can’t deny is that Amazon has made the whole e-reading process as close to dead simple as possible. You don’t need to sync it to a computer; you don’t need to know anything about a computer to use it. You just take it out of the box and turn it on, and you’re shopping from Amazon.

And if you can’t buy anything from other e-book stores? That means there aren’t all those other e-book stores to confuse you. Let’s face it, some people are going to be more frustrated than happy to have those kinds of choices. As the old saying goes, a man with one clock always knows what time it is, but a man with two clocks is never sure."


I believe Amazon sells books and that's all they want to do. If they are the vendor of choice for a majority of people (even if US-centric), why change? They have a proprietary format That. Just. Works. on a device That. Just. Works.

I can't see Amazon mucking up a good thing. Think of all the CS calls they'd get as people try to figure out ePub vs Mobi/prc/azw.

By the way, that whole article is a good one to read - mainly about people who want things to be, essentially plug-n-play (or who want the convenience of the end result without the hassle of having to get there).

Just my $.02 (USD) from someone who is somewhat of a geek - and a bit confused by those who aren't.

Marilyn
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:07 PM   #12
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Seems to me that it is not in Amazon's interest to make the Kindle compatible with Overdrive library books.

Let's face it, Amazon's goal is to "sell" books. Folks that choose not to go through the steps of tweeking library books to work on the Kindle, find it easier to purchase the book from Amazon. I suspect that Amazon makes very little money on the Kindle, but has a very substantial continuing revenue stream from all the ebooks it sells.

cheers
By this argument, there would be no ebook lending on Sony Reader, or Nook, or Kobo. They each have stores they'd like you to buy from, and so it is equally 'not in their interest' to allow library borrowing. But they do, and they promote the feature strongly.

OverDrive justifiably claims that their lending system drives sales. Libraries have limited selection, and like physical books, each digital copy can be lent to only one patron at a time, and for a limited time. If you have to wait 2 months for a book, or you don't finish before the lending period is up, or your library doesn't have the book you want to read in the first place, you're likely to just go and purchase it. If your reading device is a Nook, you'll probably use the B&N store. If it were Kindle, you'd probably get it from Amazon. So with this feature, Amazon would sell more Kindles, their competitors would sell fewer of their devices, AND Amazon would get more sales.

I suspect the reason they haven't done this to date, is that the cost of establishing the necessary contractual relationships and lining up content is greater than the benefit they'd derive. But at some point Amazon will do it: customers want it, libraries want to serve their patrons, OD wants to make more money.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:48 PM   #13
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Kindle doesn't support EPub because if it did, customers would have no reason to buy from Amazon, they could buy books from any other store that sells them.
I think this is not necessarily true.

If Amazon supports non-DRM ePub, then you still can't buy from bookstores (all the major ones) that sell only DRM'd ePub.

And I think most of their customers wouldn't do it anyway. For the major publishers using agency, the prices will be the same everywhere. And for those not using agency, Amazon usually has the best prices anyway, or small enough difference as to make it not worth the trouble.

For the rare file you can get in non-DRM'd ePub but NOT .mobi, running the file through Calibre to convert it is a trivial effort, but yes, I agree that Amazon should add non-DRM ePub to its list of mail in conversion formats.
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:39 PM   #14
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There is no reason why they can't support unprotected ePub.
Perhaps because they don't want to.
Lots of things I don't want to do either and in general no one can make me.
Perhaps I annoy people by not always catering to their every whim but such is life.
No use trying to always please others as their is always one more "But I want this" from someone.
Just don't buy a Kindle
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:11 PM   #15
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Perhaps because they don't want to.
...
Just don't buy a Kindle
It's not good enough reason. ePub format is supported by all other major e-readers/competitors. Something to think about.

For me personally lack of ePub support on Kindle is not an issue. Technical books I buy usually have mobi version. Unprotected ePub books I can convert with Kindlegen/Calibre. So I'll go ahead and buy Kindle ... oh wait, I already did
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