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What I want for Christmas from Amazon.com

Yes, this is yet another ebook post. Well, really what it is is a gripe session. I have bought three Kindles from Amazon (OK, technically two were gifts from my husband, but the principle is the same). I love my Kindle. As a reader, I love that I can have a library in my purse, buy books almost anywhere, get free samples before I buy, and often get free books. As a writer, I love that I can send my manuscripts to my Kindle, annotate them, and have it read them aloud to me.

What I don't love is that Amazon still doesn't support ePub on the Kindle. According to Jeff Bezos, they based their proprietary AZW format on Mobi-pocket (a format they own) so that they could accelerate development of the features they wanted. Fine. But Amazon offers email conversion of documents— that's how I can send Word documents to it— but not ePub documents!

Now, I know that Amazon can convert ePub, because some publishers send them ePub files to convert for sale in the Kindle store. I also know a little something about document conversion because I work for a legal publisher. There is no way that a document tagged according to a set of rules (e.g., ePub) can be harder to convert reliably than a word processing document that has no structure imposed on it at all!

All corporations are really the same. Whatever else they make, they want to make money. Maybe Jeff Bezos thinks if ePub is supported on the Kindle, even through an email conversion, that he'll sell fewer books. That might be true in the short term, but I don't think it would be in the long term. The more attractive Amazon can make the Kindle, the better shot it has of staying viable in an extremely competitive market. And right now a big weakness of the Kindle is a lack of support for ePub books.

So put on your Santa suit Jeff, and get those Amazon elves busy on making ePub possible for Kindle, one way or another.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2010 10:31 am (UTC)
My guess is that it will be a cold day in Hell before Amazon accepts that the ePub format even exists...
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
You may be right. Except they do admit it to publishers, because they accept ePub books for conversion to Mobi/AZW. I suppose they would only put that out there for the rest of us if there was money in it for them.
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
They're pushing for a monopoly and you don't get that if you allow easy conversion from ePub. Next thing you know, Kindle owners will be buying books in other stores...
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
But I already buy books at Fictionwise and O'Reilly. It works fine if the other store supplies Mobi files without DRM.
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
That's true. And I have bought books from Baen! But the monopoly dream is a real one for them. Not that they will ever have a 100% bona fide monopoly -- it'll be more like Microsoft's one. "Sure, you can use another operating system if you want to... But you'll be on your own and nothing and nobody will support it..."
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
From my husband having had an iPad for a few months, I have to say Apple is every bit as good at the monopoly thing as Amazon or MS.
Dec. 12th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
You'll get no argument from me there! It's funny how the rebels turn into monopolists as soon as they get their arses into the big chair.
Dec. 14th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, this would be nice. I have Calibre and can convert stuff and all that, but it involves extra steps, and half the time I just don't bother because I hardly ever plug the kindle into the computer. Ah, well!
Dec. 14th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, if I wanted to use the frickin' USB cable, I would have bought a Sony!
Dec. 19th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
Not ideal, but you can convert with Calibre and have it email the converted file to your Kindle.
Dec. 20th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
I could, but complaining is much more satisfying.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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