Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Taking a Look At Kindle Format 8

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the early-looks-are-best-looks dept.

Books 76

Nate the greatest writes "Got a Kindle Fire? Here's your chance to try the new Kindle Format 8. The new format is in beta testing right now with a limited number of publishers, and a few days ago one of those publishers leaked the tools and the guidelines to me. It turns out KF8 isn't all that new. I've looked at the code, and I'd call it an attempt to graft a number of Epub features onto the existing Kindle format. It simply adds a lot of new formatting and is only slightly more capable than Epub. There's a number of screenshots at the link as well as a demo file. You can probably also find more KF8 ebooks in the Kindle Store; look for the Kindle Fire exclusive magazines and graphic novels."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Taking a look at First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382742)

How does this make you feel?

Epub is the standard for digital books (4, Informative)

EponymousCustard (1442693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382744)

It makes me sad that Amazon don't support it natively.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (4, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382884)

It makes me sad that the article doesn't even mention which epub version [wikipedia.org] (1, 2, or 3) the author was comparing it to. Most new books are in 3, but there's a ton still out there at version 2. Not to mention that the International Digital Publishing Forum [IDPF] [idpf.org] is an active standard and will continually be updated for the foreseeable future. Some quantitative data would be very useful when comparing proprietary and open standards, especially as each format (and distribution system) have strong pros and cons. Personally I'm all for fully open standards for any data type, it'd take a lot of superior features to draw me into a vendor lock-in system.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382992)

Mobipocket is a well-documented standard and conversion to and from ePub is pretty straightforward. This isn't like the old binary Microsoft Word format or something. Yeah, it would be nice if Amazon used the same file format as everyone else but ePub was not a mature data format when Amazon was releasing the first Kindle (first release of ePub standard: September 2007, launch of first-gen Kindle: November 2007), so now Amazon is stuck with their current format. It's really not a big deal.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383284)

I understand why they went with their own standard at the time (although i may have personally preferred if they had contributed to the standards process), but now that epub is mature, the clear winning standard, and possibly superior technology.

It seems to me that at this point Amazon could manage backwards compatibility just fine while transitioning to (and contributing in) the epub format; so if it's no longer a question of quality is KF8 more aimed at vendor lock-in?

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (3, Insightful)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383418)

It would be pretty trivial for Amazon to keep backwards compatibility - Sony have already demonstrated that when they transitioned from LRF to ePub. It all went seamlessly, Readers still support LRF (so far as I know; certainly my old PRS-505 does) and read ePub no problem, or if you want you can go to the Sony store and redownload anything you'd bought as an LRF as an ePub instead. Amazon could do exactly the same - it's just a matter of adding ePub support (which would itself be trivial; Mobi and ePub aren't *that* different) and converting their eBook store into ePub.

I doubt they want to do this and that's their prerogative, but it would be trivial to do if they ever did choose to.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384152)

I understand why they went with their own standard at the time (although i may have personally preferred if they had contributed to the standards process), but now that epub is mature, the clear winning standard, and possibly superior technology

Most writers I've seen give numbers say that 70-90% of their sales come from Amazon. So why would Amazon want to switch to using a standard that encourages people to buy from other stores?

Format lock-in sucks for a user, but it's great for a retailer who owns most of the market.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384526)

The format says nothing of the DRM layered on top. Apple uses EPUB + their own DRM rendering their device incompatible with other stores. But it still doesn't make sense to use a proprietary format and deny people the ability to read non-DRM'd EPUB books. I wonder if Amazon permits alternate e-readers on their app store.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385488)

iBooks is not incompatible with other stores, though it doesn't integrate with them. It supports non-encrypted epubs and PDFs, both of which I have on my iPad right now. The ePub came from Baen. It probably supports other ebook formats as well, but I don't have any to try.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38388436)

For whom does it not make sense?

From Amazon's perspective sticking with their proprietary format gives them two benefits: 1) it requires publishers to specifically target their platform, which creates a clear distinction between Kindle and the rest of the industry, and 2) it encourages customers to buy their ebooks from Amazon rather than another store. There's also the third benefit of Amazon not having to put development resources into providing ePub support. The software developers Amazon has working on Kindle don't appear to be entirely the best, so they'd probably run into trouble if they tried to implement it anyway.

From a consumer standpoint it obviously doesn't make sense, but I don't see Amazon going to ePub (or even supporting it) unless they achieve enough market segment share to potentially raise anti-trust issues. There's just no benefit to them to implementing it and quite a few negatives. If they were making a decent margin on the readers that might not be the case, but they're certainly not making much, if any, on the hardware itself.

For what it's worth, it does appear that Amazon allows competing ebook readers on their appstore. I couldn't find the B&N Nook reader, but at least Kobo and Aldiko are on there.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415224)

It makes no sense to everyone including Amazon. There is a perfectly functional EPUB format which they could use and still DRM in whichever way they pleased.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38421830)

No, it really doesn't. As I already said, with their current proprietary format Amazon gets:

1) Publishers who have to pay special attention to their platform, rather than creating a single ePub that may or may not display correctly on their devices because they were only tested against a competing ePub reader.

2) It encourages customers who buy a Kindle to buy their ebooks from Amazon because a) no other major ebook vendor is selling in MobiPocket format and b) converting ePub to Mobi will usually result in an inferior reading experience to just buying the Kindle version from Amazon.

3) It doesn't require Amazon's developers, who have shown themselves to be less than top flight, to implement an additional format on their readers.

I understand that you probably can't wrap your head around these simple concepts, but there is NO advantage to Amazon in opening up their readers to ePub nor even in embracing ePub themselves. Sometimes the superior format isn't the superior solution; if you don't understand that then you don't understand a fucking thing.

Epub version 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389176)

From the sample file:

<package version="2.0" xmlns="http://www.idpf.org/2007/opf" unique-identifier="BookId">

It's version 2.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384492)

It makes me sad that Amazon don't support it natively.

Amazon is an Apple wannabe. They want the entire cake to themselves including the distribution format. They might have had the technical excuse of not supporting EPUB on their e-ink devices for legacy / constraint reasons. They have no such excuse for tablets.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

Saint Gerbil (1155665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384822)

If Amazon are selling a awz for every epub sold how can you claim that epub is the standard?
It may not be a popular stance to take but it doesn't seems to stop sales enough to make a difference.

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38385224)

epub is an official open standard. ( the official standard of the IDPF. ). standards are there to ensure compatibility and continuity, and avoid vendor lock-in. Amazon are trying to force their format to be a de-facto standard. that's not the same thing, and such activity harms consumers and should be discouraged

Re:Epub is the standard for digital books (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38385208)

It makes me sad that Amazon don't support it natively.

It is at least a good sign to see that they're improving the kindle format. That shows that they're feeling a need to stay competitive with epub. It's actually a much better situation than what we ended up with on the web with technologies like mathml. It's pretty pathetic that Wikipedia articles still don't use mathml because IE doesn't support it except through kludgy workarounds. Epub 3 supports mathml (although I doubt that any actual devices support it yet). Math and science textbooks are a very lucrative market, and if a kindle user notices that the equations in the kindle version look like crap compared to the version on their friend's epub-based device, that's going to create a strong competitive disadvantage for amazon.

"Exclusively" (3)

wygit (696674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382892)

I'm wondering how many different "exclusive" editions publishers are going to publish in.
This is stupid. The only paid "exclusive" iPad publications I have are magazines that had a free iPad subscription when you bought the dead-tree edition.

Re:"Exclusively" (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382994)

That's one big reason why I'm ignoring Kindle and looking at the Nook. Of course, I may just forego an e-reader completely; I have a notebook and may get a tablet. With a tablet I see no use for an e-reader.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383026)

The nook can also run Linux if I'm not mistaken.

Re:"Exclusively" (3, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383094)

With a tablet I see no use for an e-reader.

I guess you don't read much, or you'd know how much better an e-ink screen is for reading books.

Not to mention that I only have to recharge my Kindle every few weeks, so I just leave it plugged in when I connect it to my computer every now and again to download non-Amazon books to it.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383186)

I have to agree here. There is no substitute for an e-ink display when reading. I end up with horribly bloodshot eyes if I read an LCD non-stop for hours (whether for lack of blinking or something else, I don't know). I suffer no ill effects from reading off an e-ink display though.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383288)

> I end up with horribly bloodshot eyes

Along with a terrible case of the munchies?

Re:"Exclusively" (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383826)

I have to agree here. There is no substitute for an e-ink display when reading. I end up with horribly bloodshot eyes if I read an LCD non-stop for hours (whether for lack of blinking or something else, I don't know). I suffer no ill effects from reading off an e-ink display though.

I was surprised at the difference as well. I have an eInk Kindle, but got a Nook Color (with CM7 so I can run the Kindle app) for reading books in bed without needing a light that might keep my partner awake. I figured that the backlit display with the brightness turned down to low would be perfect for reading in a dark room.

Well, I was wrong, reading the Nook for more than 30 minutes is uncomfortable while I can read the Kindle for hours, even with a clip-on book light.

So now I use the Nook for web surfing and the Kindle for reading.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38393388)

I figured that the backlit display with the brightness turned down to low would be perfect for reading in a dark room.

This kinda sorta works with OLED smartphone screens, but only because their black is really black - and you need to turn brightness all the way down, and use a dark font (e.g. #402000).

Re:"Exclusively" (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383216)

There's also the difference in size. The pictures really don't do the Kindle justice - I played with one in an airport shop and they're astonishingly thin and light. I have an iRex iLiad, which is one of the first generation of eInk devices. You could easily fit two or three 6" Kindles inside it. You could probably slip the kindle into a coat pocket without noticing. Doing that with the iLiad or a modern tablet would be difficult. The smallest tablet I own is a Nokia 770, and it fits, but it's much more bulky than a kindle. Most of the difference is the battery - a TFT screen draws a lot more power than eInk so an eInk device can get away with a tiny battery in comparison with a tablet (and a less power-hungry CPU, since you're not going to be playing back videos on the eBook reader).

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383262)

True: the only tablet I've used is the Asus Transformer, and that felt heavy enough that I wouldn't want to have to hold it for half an hour. The Kindle isn't much heavier than a paperback.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383512)

I guess you don't read much

You guess wrong in my case. I do a lot of reading on an LCD screen - attached to my laptop, on a tablet, on a phone. In fact I spend most of my working life and much of my liesure time reading the web and books on it, and the advantages for reading (colour, resolution, response time) outweigh the disadvantages (lower battery life, sunlight) to my mind. YMMV.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384130)

Ah well, don't complain when you're blind by the time you're forty.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384744)

I read ebooks all the time, and that's why I hate "e-ink." With a backlit device, I can read in bed or a dimly lit room without disturbing my spouse. Additionally, I can check my mail, check the weather, search the web for something, and perform other tasks that catch my fancy while reading all without having to find/use a separate device.

And while I own both an iPad and an iPhone, I can't stand reading ebooks on the iPad -- the resolution is too low and the screen is too bright for a darkened room, even fully dimmed. Not to mention, it's too large and awkward to hold comfortably. In fact, if I wasn't using it for development, I wouldn't own an iPad or any tablet at all, and that includes a Kindle.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38396532)

I read a lot, but mostly paper and compuer screens. I haven't had an e-ink device.

Re:"Exclusively" (5, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383110)

"With a tablet I see no use for an e-reader."

I've used both. I don't see a need for a tablet (I have a netbook), but the e-reader (kindle touch 3g) is pretty great. It's the ultra-long battery life and e-ink display that do it.

Re:"Exclusively" (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383214)

I cant. Kindle is the ONLY ones making a 10" epaper display. Nook is a tiny toy great for paperbacks but useless for educational and scientific texts.
If nook would release a 10" unit or better yet an a4 page size screen unit. I would be all over it as would every single college student and college looking for a decent reader for college textbooks.

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384274)

A tablet isn't nearly as comfortable to read with as an e-reader. There's a lot to be said for the Nook's (and Kindle's) e-ink screen.

Re:"Exclusively" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384374)

With a tablet I see no use for an e-reader.

What, you like to strain your eyes with TFTs? You like to be hunting for wall sockets everywhere you go?

Re:"Exclusively" (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383724)

I'm wondering how many different "exclusive" editions publishers are going to publish in.
This is stupid. The only paid "exclusive" iPad publications I have are magazines that had a free iPad subscription when you bought the dead-tree edition.

as many as new media editor companies can sell them.

Just one thing... (3, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382924)

It may be a sign of getting old, but seriously - if I laid down hard cash for something, I'm not in much mood to be a beta tester on it. This is doubly true for items which are locked down to one proprietary vendor. Triply true for an item (like, say, this tablet) which should be homogeneous to the point where developers really don't have to account for a wild variety of configurations, so the whole idea of accounting for differences should be pretty frickin' moot.

Now sure, I'll hackintosh my desktop box (which I had done) or happily goof off with a new Linux distro, but only because the former is assembled out of older parts, and the latter is in a VM first, before I decide whether or not to migrate it to my main home server box.

OTOH, the Kindle Fire is a product that (much like the iPad, to be fair) serves as nothing more than a front for Amazon's app/media store. Screw that - if they want me to test it out that bad for them, they can damned well pay me as a tester.

Re:Just one thing... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383014)

All of what you say is true. But if you want to be the first to try out something new, or you simply have to have the latest and greatest, beta testing gives you that opportunity. Most of the time, the beta is perfectly stable anyways. Besides, it sounds like the beta testing was meant to stay internal (although I'm not going to read the article to actually find out).

Re:Just one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383078)

Most of the time, the beta is perfectly stable anyways.

Who's beta? Amazons? Googles? Microsofts? Thats a very... broad statement. Some betas are true betas, some betas are production ready release candidates.

Most of us long out grew having the time to futz with most software betas and their bugs, outside of the office of course...

Re:Just one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383800)

Besides, being a beta tester to a product you intend to use a lot gives you at least a slightly better chance to air your own gripes than a regular customer. Sure, they might still ignore the specifics if your issue isn't on their development plan, but it's got to be better to be a lone voice shouting on the inside rather than the outside of a project.

Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (3, Interesting)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383036)

It's already a nightmare trying to cover all the bases as a book writer/publisher, adding more to the mix just makes things more annoying, confusing and likely to pop up crazy formatting mistakes. The forums are already filled with people having enough grief getting a decent looking eBook generated (though I blame them for using MSWord... tsk tsk *hugs LaTeX*). A lot of us would LOVE it if Amazon simply supported ePub, though that would in many ways erode their empire, at least in their view. Right now a lot of publishers are pushing out mobi / ePub / pdf as the main 3 formats to support, at least along with print publishing, unfortunately even within ePub there's a few quirks and you have to generate slightly different versions for iPad, Nook and 'everything else'. ... reminds me of the bloomen browser wars at their worst ... and to think I switched to doing novels / writing / publishing to try avoid this sort of crap *maniacal laugh*.

http://elitadaniels.com/ [elitadaniels.com]

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383354)

Hey I love your books!! Great blogs on your website too!

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383688)

Hey, many thanks for that :D We've been quiet lately because we're building up to our latest release "My Boyfriend is a Zombie"... YA romance... already having fun with an Apple-vs-Samsung wrangle over the cover artwork ( http://elitadaniels.com/images/zombie-cover.jpg [elitadaniels.com] vs http://www.criticnic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Passion-by-Lauren-Kate.jpg [criticnic.com] ) ... fun fun fun ...

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383454)

Glad to see you're using LaTeX to build your eBooks too :)

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383822)

Just don't dare tell people that you don't use MS-Word ... :D

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384442)

Alas, I put stuff out through Smashwords and they *force* me to use MS Word, so that they can then generate an ePub almost, but not quite, identical to the one that I hand-construct (and therefore almost, but not quite, what I want). That's extremely frustrating even if I understand why they do it.

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384596)

I fully sympathise... it made me cry to do it, literally (because of a huge argument I was having). It'd be nice if SW offered an ePub or HTML+CSS upload, since that's what they work from internally to feed the meatgrinder. Given that they're forcing people to use the SW Styling Guide, I don't see why they can't offer an equally strict HTML/CSS styling guide. The biggest pain I found is the disconnect between your submitted doc and the errors that often come out say from the ePub validation, you just have to thumb-suck and hope that you find the true cause of the glitch.

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384718)

Absolutely. The first story I uploaded came back with about 25 errors, none of which made any sense. The Word document was extremely tightly-styled, but meatgrinder refused to accept the style I put on it. I learned never to leave a style I wanted called "Normal", and to always use that document as a template - or I'll just get into another ten hour pissing contest with meatgrinder... I don't know why they won't accept at least HTML+CSS, and ideally an ePub (which for how I use ePub for is just the same thing, zipped). I get that they want to get clean versions of the lowest common denominator, but when I've built an ePub it's annoying to have to port it to Word and play around for hours just so that they can convert it back into an almost-identical ePub.

Ah well. At least I'm sticking with writing in LaTeX :)

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (3, Informative)

thomas.galvin (551471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383460)

I think the fact that Amazon uses a proprietary format is a heaping pile of crap, but that's as a user, not an author. As an author, I just upload the ePub I generated for B&N and let Amazon handle the conversion to whatever they call their zip file full of HTML.

I use Scrivener [literatureandlatte.com] to do my writing, and it exports to ePub directly. There's also a plugin that will export to Kindle format, if you want to do that. And it exports to Word, which is what I have to use for Smashwords. And it exports to PDF, which is what I use to edit. It's a fantastic piece of software.

But, yes, the rest of the world needs to get on the ePub train. It's a really nice format, very fit for what it does.

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383470)

How do you do your LaTex to ePub conversion?

Do you first convert to XHTML then to ePub, do you use something like LaTeX2HTML then to ePub?
How do you keep the metadata through the conversion? I am aware of tools like calibre and pandoc.
Also which font sets do you prefer? The opensource ones or the ones from the various commercial foundries?

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (2)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383624)

Given that I'm the geek *cough* and my wife is the writer, I put her on LyX, it has its shortcomings but for novels they're not a problem and it's a nice bridge between mainstream wordprocessing and my world :) (our biggest complaint lies with the dictionaries and grammar... but then we do have editors that we contract). Anyhow, from within LyX we just do the HTML export and then import via Calibre with our own tweaked stylesheet to give us the mobi and epub. For print-publishing of course LyX/LaTeX does a bloomen nice job with very little work as we all know.

I do like the the Palitino font combined with the Memoir document class. Unfortunately of course, all that goes down the chute for the eBooks :(

I have a great deal of bitterness towards Smashwords and their singular MS-Word submission format, rather a stab in the eye considering their profit is built on OpenSource software - but that's something I've complained about long and hard to Mark's face with thus far very little gain.

No doubt other independent publishers reading these comments know still how annoying it can be when you think you've got everything finished and a few hours after you've released the book you get an email from a reader "Your formatting is totally broken on device XYZ" :(

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

thomas.galvin (551471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38391786)

Smashwords is so frustrating.

On the one hand, it lets me reach Kobo and Sony, which I just wouldn't have access to without a middle man. Their coupon system makes it easy for me to do promotions and giveaways. And their royalty sharing is very fair.

But their formatting ... the Meatgrinder software has earned a special place in one of the deeper circles of hell, as far as I'm concerned. I have no idea how they thought it was acceptable to throw out eBooks that don't even have chapter breaks, but that's what they do.

And their insistence of calling everything the "Smashwords edition" and inserting a special "Smashwords license note" and refusing to acknowledge the existence of Amazon just seems ... petty. Understandable, but unprofessional.

So, yeah, even though I get a higher royalty from Smashwords, I direct my readers to Amazon or B&N first, because they sell a nicer looking product, which makes my writing look more professional. Or at the very least, detracts from it less.

Re:Aw hell... more standards for me to publish to. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383906)

Don't get me started ranting about my experience publishing eBook content with LaTeX....

What I want to know is whether there's some way to combine the new content created with the new tool with the old content created with the old tool programmatically. Because KindleGen is remarkably bad at handling CSS, I had to make fairly dramatic (and massively non-spec-compliant) changes to my EPUB doc to create something that still looked reasonably formatted after transforming it into Kindle format. I'd love to use the new tools to generate the new format, but presumably I'd want to start with something approaching proper EPUB instead of a hacked copy. However, unless the KindleGen tool got a lot better, that will probably mean less than acceptable results on older devices that don't use the new format.

Also, where the hell are the new tools for generating these things? The latest version on Amazon's site is the old 1.2 from six months ago. KindleGen 2 is nowhere to be found. How are we supposed to start transitioning to the new tools when we can't get the new tools?

And this is why Amazon needs to get with the program and switch to EPUB. Amazon *and* publishers have to do an absolutely *insane* amount of work to support their hack of a platform because they are the only devices in the world that don't support open standards. What a mess. Amazon, just STOP. Stop releasing new versions of your Kindle format. Stop updating KindleGen. Stop using a nonstandard format on your readers. Nothing makes me long for the relative simplicity of RGB to CMYK conversions than dealing with your crap.... :-/

Cracked yet? (2)

GSloop (165220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383136)

The AZW format got broken a long time ago, and while I don't purchase a lot of content from Amazon, I don't buy ANYTHING I can't break the DRM on so I can move it [sell it, give it away, etc] at my convenience.

I'm sure not going to purchase a bunch of content on Amazon that's lost/stuck because I decided I wanted to get a different device to read it with.

So, hows the cracking with the new format going? Once it's cracked, I'll consider buying it, at least once I decide to buy a KF.

Seriously, once books move into a more reasonable price range in general, I'd guess that it clearly doesn't make sense to use DRM. MP3's made this transition once the vendors realized that $20 for a CD wasn't going to fly for MP3's. Books are going to do it too, I suspect, and sooner rather than later.

But until then, I'll avail myself of the tools to do what the publisher failed to do right - and if that's not possible - well, I just won't buy it at all.

-Greg

Re:Cracked yet? (4, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383218)

Seriously, once books move into a more reasonable price range in general, I'd guess that it clearly doesn't make sense to use DRM. MP3's made this transition once the vendors realized that $20 for a CD wasn't going to fly for MP3's. Books are going to do it too, I suspect, and sooner rather than later.

Sadly, ebooks are moving away from reasonable prices, not toward them. Apple managed to raise ebook prices by roughly 50% when they negotiated deals with the publishers before the iPad's launch. Given another major vendor willing to charge much more for books, the publishers were unwilling to allow Amazon to continue selling at their sometimes below cost price point, and now they had the leverage to do something about it. I hope that Apple's influence wanes so that prices can come back down, or that cheaper prices align with Apple's interests at some point in the near future.

Re:Cracked yet? (2)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383416)

Depends on where you stand... right now, from an independent writer's perspective, eBook prices are plummeting - couple of years ago most people were at $2.99 and $0.99 was the 'magical free marketing ride', then last year going $0.00 was the key and everyone was trying to get on the Amazon free bandwagon to get some exposure... I expect soon that writers will be _paying_ people to read their book. In the race to the bottom, it seems we're going to punch through and start digging our own graves. We've personally actually stopped ourselves and put our eBooks back to $1.49~$2.99, there's nothing wrong with asking people to pay $2.99 for a 40k~100k word book, hell that's less than a small coffee.

Watch each day and see what eBooks Amazon puts out for free, won't be long and you'll have enough material to last you a lifetime. Of course, if you're wanting eBook editions of a Big-6 published new release, then yes, you'll be lucky to get $0.50 off the price.

Re:Cracked yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383994)

$2.99 is great. Hell, $5.99 would be great. I'm sick of paying $10-$15 for the "Kindle edition" of something where I can get the "used paperback edition" for $6, including shipping.

Re:Cracked yet? (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384174)

I completely agree - that sort of thing just makes the brain pop.

Re:Cracked yet? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384104)

Depends on where you stand... right now, from an independent writer's perspective, eBook prices are plummeting - couple of years ago most people were at $2.99 and $0.99 was the 'magical free marketing ride', then last year going $0.00 was the key and everyone was trying to get on the Amazon free bandwagon to get some exposure... I expect soon that writers will be _paying_ people to read their book.

Which is odd, because the indie writers I know are increasing their prices and getting more sales. Probably because many people now see $2.99 and below as the swamp of crap.

Re:Cracked yet? (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384246)

It's something we certainly discuss in great length between each other (independent writers), most frequently becoming rather heated. For some it works best to go to $2.99+, for others they find they lose their traction and retreat back to $0.99 or lower.

Personally I'm just glad we're sticking with the $2.99 vision because there's just no practical way to do it as even a small scale home job/business, not when you have to factor in artwork, editing, proofing and marketing. I suppose some people could make it work if they lived in the basement and had someone else pay their bills. As you probably know, Amazon will give you 35c/sale at 99c, even at 100/day I think you'd be still slowly sliding backwards and I don't know too many indies that sustain 100/day for more than a few months on each release (there are some exceptions of course, like Amanda Hocking).

Re:Cracked yet? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384672)

As soon as you say "go to", that's where they made their first mistake. The first rule of sales is that you never, ever lowball your initial asking price. If you do, people come to expect it at that price and won't pay more. That's why most books have a fixed price that doesn't change for the life of the book, sales on the used market notwithstanding. Raising the price of an existing book will always cause sales to dry up.

The second rule of sales is that you should set the price at whatever you think your offering is worth. Commercial book titles cost $9.99 and up, so if you set your price at $0.99 or less, you are telling people that you think your book is worth less than a tenth what a book from a real publisher is worth. That's setting yourself up for failure right off the bat. People are going to immediately think your book is worthless compared with commercial titles because you think it is. And it doesn't mater if you raise the price later; they're going to see it as a $0.99 book, and you as a $0.99 author for a long time to come.

Instead, you should set the initial price to be comparable with commercial titles. Then, offer a one-day or one-week promotional sale of a title at $3.99 or so. Psychologically, this makes people think they're getting a deal by getting it for so much less than list. This creates a flurry of interest for a short term, which drives reviews, which drives both sales rank and word-of-mouth advertisement, which in turn drive future sales.

If you've already made this mistake, raise the price on all your books to $9.99 or more today, and in a couple of years, when you release your next book, you'll start getting sales again. Amusingly, you'll start getting sales for all of your books. That's another psychological trick. When people see a new title at the same cost as commercial offerings by an author with a lot of previous titles, they are likely to assume that the author is a successful writer, and are more likely to give the book a chance.

Finally, you need to produce paper versions of your books. I know that's an unpopular subject among some eBook publishers, but the fact remains that a lot of folks won't touch an eBook without a printed edition. Some people read print books exclusively, for one thing, so you're limiting your market if you don't. Also, a printed edition means that either A. you cared enough about your book and the way it is presented to do the work needed to see it in print, or B. a publisher cared enough about it to do the extra work. Either way, that's often (but not always) a good indication of quality.

Re:Cracked yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384286)

As a buyer, I'd sooner pay £3-£5 for a book by a writer I didn't know than £0.99, simply because there's a better chance that they're serious about what they're doing and not just a hobbyist. My leisure time is pretty valuable to me, the amount of it I'd have to spend reading a book before deciding I don't like it is worth more than the £2 I'd save on the purchase (you'll also get more honest reviews if people have to lay down real money - everything seems great when it's free or next to free). It's the £9-£15 ebooks from established authors that puts me off reading more though. I think some ebooks are priced too low for their own good and some too high.

Kindle uses AZW -- MOBI based (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383196)

This is rather some news, because up until now, Amazon Kindles have used *.AZW which is *.MOBI (mobile book) based. _NOT_ *.EPUB which is a main competitor.

I do not see anything about compression, which is my main reason for preferring EPUB over MOBI . The files are ~50% smaller unless there are photos/dwgs.

Re:Kindle uses AZW -- MOBI based (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38393456)

Well, it is still not ePub, so nothing really changed in that department.

Advantage over PDF? (2)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383410)

I really don't follow ebook formats because pdfs have always been my portable format of choice, and I have no ebook reader. I skimmed the article, but I could not find any points on what makes this superior to a pdf file. What advantages does the Kindle format or epub format offer which a pdf cannot do?

I saw some mention of audio and video and javascript, but pdfs can support that. Why recreate the wheel? From reading the article (where perhaps the author doesn't know what he is talking about?), it sounds like it's trying to do everything HTML can, but not be HTML.

Can anyone please clarify this for me?

Re:Advantage over PDF? (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383636)

Most (all?) ebook readers let you adjust font and margin size. Formats like epub and mobi (azw) allow this to work without breaking the formatting. PDFs don't support that feature, so you have to either pan-n-scan or else be stuck with a tiny font size.

Re:Advantage over PDF? (3, Informative)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383788)

As a general rule, PDFs cannot be reflowed (there is a new revision in the PDF standard that allows this now, but it's a bit of a crutch).

ePub/mobi/what-ever-other-ebook-format is more akin to HTML than Postscript/PDF, as such eBooks can then be read on all manner of devices without knowing in advance the limitations of the output media. So it's fine if you have a nice 9~10" tablet to read the PDFs on, and things like datasheets for electronics work well in this format, but if you try it on a 5~6" display device it becomes a case of either scrolling/panning to read or reading with a lot of detail lost.

Re:Advantage over PDF? (1)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38391590)

Ah ha, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining it to me. (And thanks to the others who responded, too!)

Re:Advantage over PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38420478)

More specifically, ePub at least is HTML. Just a subset of modern XHTML+CSS+SVG/JPEG with an XML descriptor file. No JS and you must put everything in a common directory structure in the zip file.

Re:Advantage over PDF? (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384034)

it sounds like it's trying to do everything HTML can, but not be HTML

Basically it IS just (a subset of) plain HTML+CSS with a standardized naming structure for table of contents, chapters, cover and similar, all bundled together into a zip file. It defines a default style for unstyled tags and which subset of HTML and CSS the renderer must handle to be compliant.

Just support ebub and be done with it. (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384410)

Instead of coming up with yet another format that people will now have to support. I love my kindle, but they're seriously pulling a Sony on this one.

Re:Just support ebub and be done with it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38384590)

Oddly enough, ePub is the standard format on the Sony Reader. So this might be one case where you actually want someone to pull a Sony.

Re:Just support ebub and be done with it. (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38384656)

They would stand to pick up a lot more sales of their hardware and subsequently their instore books if they did this, at least that's my theory. A lot of people avoid the Kindles because of the lack of ePub. I suppose Amazon fears people will buy their books from elsewhere and read them on the Kindle, but in reality Amazon does have a nice 1-click/buy/delivery system which is hard to walk away from, it's just so damned convenient (most of the time).

Re:Just support ebub and be done with it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38388828)

A lot of people do not avoid the Kindle because of lack of ePub, as the vast majority of people have no idea what "ePub" is.

This is not significantly different than the Linux argument, where some insignificant (from a revenue perspective) percentage of people extrapolates themselves into a lot because they wish a certain for-profit corporation would do something.

In general, I agree with you 100% that ePub should be natively supported and it sucks it doesn't, but I guarantee you that the vast majority of people shopping for or who own a Kindle don't have the slightest idea about it.

Re:Just support ebub and be done with it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38390768)

Amazon should add the capability to read epub files to Kindles. That said, those of us who know will use Calibre to convert non-DRM epubs to Mobi or TXT format for reading on our Kindles. For those who don't understand why not PDF for ebooks: Many PDF files are created from scanned graphic files. Those that are cannot be easily reformated, nor can text be easily resized. Thats why pdf was invented so you could have an exact copy of a printed document/form on your computer, or to be sent over the internet as a file. Most ebook formats are a form of txt file, so fonts and text size can be easily changed and the document adjusts to fit the screen.

I was missing 2 things in old Kindle format (1)

Gazsi (2171044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38394146)

1 SVG images so that math books can be written. I heard KF8 is supporting it, but I found no reference.

2 Ruby annotations, essential to Japanese books. Still not supported.

Why can not they just go html?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?