Amazon introduces new Kindle eBook format and makes a major misstep

Yesterday, Amazon released information that with the introduction of the Kindle Fire tablet they will also switch to a new eBook format. Anyone who will check out the quick overview will certainly be pleased and also notice that with the upcoming KF8 eBook format, Amazon seems to have addressed virtually all the shortcomings I have raised in my blog post 10 Things Amazon should correct in the Kindle that I posted a while ago.

And yet, I am not happy. Why is that?

One would think with these issues out of the way, the Kindle should finally catapult itself to the top of the eBook capabilities, right? Well, yes and no. The problem lies in the details, the fineprint, so to speak. The big problem with the introduction of the KF8 format is that Amazon is doing a pretty hack job with this, I am very sorry to say, because, according to Amazon’s announcement and FAQ, none of the older Kindles will be able to support this format.

Why is this a problem? Well, as a professional eBook formatter, the question for me is, how am I supposed to deal with this? Instead of creating the foundation for one rock solid Kindle platform that has powerful capabilities, Amazon is now going down the road of platform fragmentation. Already we had issues that the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 had capabilities the Kindle 1 did not possess. It was a big problem because things such as tables were unusable, despite the fact that the capabilities were built into the K2 and K3. Since authors have to make sure they cover the largest possible market share, however, using tables made no sense, as the Kindle 1 did not support them and rendered them in a useless, garbled fashion.

With KF8, things will get even uglier. We now have three different sets of capabilities. The Kindle 1 at the bottom end, the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3, and then the new Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire. This is not a smart move on Amazon’s behalf and reeks of either laziness or engineering ineptitude.

From a programming standpoint none of the features introduced in KF8 are in any way supercharged capabilities that require special hardware. Let’s face it. eBook reader software is, in effect, nothing more than a specialized web browser. It is not rocket science! Therefore, Amazon’s decision is hard to comprehend. Web browser implementations have been written a thousand times — I wrote one myself 10 years ago for use in a computer game. There are reference implementations out there that they could have used for free, all things that should have made it possible to retain a unified platform. So, why could’t the software engineers at Amazon make sure they introduce these capabilities in all devices through firmware upgrades?

It is a very short-sighted decision in my opinion, that not only shortchanges the end users, but causes a lot of problems on Amazon’s end as well.

They will now have to begin offering and delivering different versions of the same books – one formatted according to the old, outdated MOBI file specifications, and another one formatted according to the new KF8 guidelines for this to make any sense. How does that make sense?

So, not only will they now have to deal with publishers having to create and upload multiple versions of the same book. This comes at an additional expenses to authors and publishers, as they have maintain two versions of the book. But it also comes at the expense of Amazon, as they have to modify their existing pipeline to accommodate these multiple versions.

To make matters worse, they will have to educate people which format to use for which device, and they will have to prepare – and possibly ramp up support staff, to answer all the customer questions stemming from this sort of confusion.

As I said, I do not think this was a very smart move and it is not in Amazon’s best interest.

Writing and updating the firmware for all existing Kindle platforms would have been a clean way into the future, without all the hassle that comes with platform fragmentation. I know what I am talking about – I’ve been programming for 30 years and I’ve been working in the mobile field for many years, where device fragmentation has gone rampant and costs publishers and cell phone carriers hundreds of millions of dollars every month just to support the insanity.

I know, that for me, KF8 is a step backwards, no matter how attractive it looks at first glance. For the most part it is useless out of the gate because if it doesn’t work on all Kindle devices, it has no value to me and I suspect most of my clients.


An important point was raised in the comments to this post that deserves a few additional words, I think.

Amazon promises that KindleGen 2, the tool they provide to allow authoring KF8 files “will convert your content so that it works on all Kindle devices and apps.”

If you think, this means that all problems are solved with this, you can smoke that notion in a pipe. There is a big difference between could and should.

Just because KindleGen 2 promises to convert your books, doesn’t mean you should, because the output quality will be dubious at best. Of course, if you are part of the I-don’t-care-just-make-it-easy, Smashwords-adoring crowd, yes, that might work for you, but if you take pride in your ebook’s layout and formatting, this is not going to fly.

Let me illustrate this with a very simple example. Say, you have an image and you add the float property to it, to have it embedded in your text with the words flowing nicely around it.

When converting such a file, all KindleGen can really do is ignore the float property — which, coincidentally, all the devices do already. As result, on a Kindle 2 you will now have the image sitting on the left side of the screen with nothing surrounding it. Perhaps the first line of the text that was supposed to float around it will sit firmly at the bottom, creating a huge, ugly gap. Surely not what you had in mind.

If you had properly formatted a version for MOBI devices, instead, you would perhaps have centered the image in this case and spaced it out a little more. That is where KindleGen’s auto-conversion will fail you miserably, because it cannot make decisions like that for you. Things will, undoubtedly get even nastier when your formatting is more complex than this one very basic example, and I would not be surprised if certain elements would even disappear entirely.

Let’s face it, there are certain things the old devices simply can’t do if Amazon refuses to upgrade their firmware across the entire line of products. Just having some devices that support it and others that don’t is hackneyed at best.

As a publisher you will have to look at the lowest common denominator for your product, and that is the long-abandoned Kindle 1, that has seen little love from Amazon in recent years.

Sure, this is not a big problem if you have a novel without graphics or a special page layout. Fair enough, in that case you are really not affected by these changes at all. You will continue to build MOBI files exactly the way you did and ignore the new capabilities, because MOBI offers exactly the kind of functionality you need. Nothing wrong with that.

When books become a little more complex, that is when the problems begin and they will very quickly become exacerbated.

The bottom line — and the main point of my post — is that the way Amazon is approaching this is creating tiers of devices, each tier with different implementational limitations. And that, my friends, is a very real problem.


61 Replies to “Amazon introduces new Kindle eBook format and makes a major misstep”

  1. Michael K. Rose

    Well, according to this FAQ,
    publishers won’t need to upload two different versions (it’s the last item: “KindleGen 2 will convert your content so that it works on all Kindle devices and apps.”) Whether or not that means two different files are automatically created, requiring Kindle owners to know which one they need, isn’t clear to me.
    We’ll see how it unfolds but hopefully they’ve addressed all these issues.


    • Guido

      I wouldn’t count on that. It is probably not going to work if you make extensive use of some of the special formatting features of the new format. You will probably end up with Smashwords-style crap output.

  2. Michael K. Rose

    Oh, I don’t count on it either! lol! Just trying to stay positive! As it is, I plan on making my fiction available on the kindle and I buy mostly fiction, so I don’t think special, shiny formatting options will affect me too much. Fingers crossed.


  3. Guido

    I was expecting EPUB support as well, but if KF8 does what it promises, it would be awesome as a format itself – provided all Kindles would support it.

  4. Pinbot

    It’s not always possible to bring the older devices up to speed. Although you could watch a color TV show on a B&W set, obviously you didn’t to appreciate the color of the actor’s tie. I could try and update my metaphor to HDTV, but I’d probably say something stupid and incorrect.

    Amazon needs a better format to move forward and support more complex layouts. I don’t see how Amazon could have an upgrade path that satisfies everybody. It’s hardly unprecedented for new technology to orphan older systems. I’ve been involved in many software upgrades of corporate business systems that leave no option at all other than a large hardware purchase. Is this really that bad? If the Kindle was an Apple product … changed my mind, not going there.

    You’ll just have to come up with a more complex rate sheet for your services. Optimizing to every Kindle format should be an easy sales pitch, so you’ll probably make more money per book formatted.

  5. Mike Cane

    >>>To make matters worse, they will have to educate people which format to use for which device,

    You forget that Amazon knows who has which device because they all have to be registered with Amazon.

    I think when people order a book *via* a Kindle, the file they receive won’t even be an issue to them. If someone orders with an original Kindle, they might get a notice the book is not available for that device. Since Amazon has begun a trade-in for credit program, this would be a good incentive to get people to upgrade to more capable (and better-designed) hardware.

    I can get Kindle A/V titles when they are free, but do they even download to Kindle for PC for me (I don’t have a K yet)? No. But they stay in the Cloud for the day I can use them, for download. And that Cloud bookshelf is the key to getting people to upgrade too. As they do, when they resync a book, they will get the latest file format, transparently, without even having to think about it. At some point, Amazon will have the device population figures to show when they can finally abandon the original Mobi format for good.

    Lastly, don;t forget that not everyone is reading Kindle books on a Kindle. They could be doing so on an iOS or Android (or even webOS) device without ever owning a Kindle. And if Amazon updates all that software to use KF8 too, it’s a non-issue for those users too.

  6. Floxyn

    While I agree with you about the problems for publishers/authors, from Amazon’s point of view they don’t really want to encourage users to keep their K1/2/3s ( that is why they have started a trade-in offer), they want us to buy the new stuff!
    What better way than to offer new improved content that can only be accessed properly on a K4 or Fire?
    Not saying it is right ( or wrong) just the way of the world.

  7. Michael K. Rose

    Re: Your Addendum

    I hope I didn’t come across as one of the “I-don’t-care-just-make-it-easy” crowd. I do recognize the potential problems for image-heavy books, for example, and the fact that I don’t plan on publishing those kinds of books doesn’t mean I don’t understand the issue. But the vast majority of e-book publishers/writers (I’ll make up a statistic and say 97%) won’t be affected by it. Whatever the actual figure, it’s a problem for a small percentage of publishers and until it’s rolled out I don’t see the point in hand-wringing over what might happen. But do keep us updated! I’d like to hear about your experiences formatting a non-standard book using the new platform.

    BTW, I’m about halfway through Demon’s Night and I really enjoy the authentic picture you paint of Victorian London. This might be of interest to you if you don’t have it already:


  8. Guido

    @Pinbot, I understand exactly what you’re saying and would agree – to a degree. The kindles are not very complex devices, though. They are very narrowly defined and as I pointed out, the software running on them is not rocket science. It is not that the devices, per se, have so much new capabilities that they could not be duplicated. Everything the Kindle 3 hardware can do, the Kindle 1 could do as well. A little slower, perhaps, but from a software engineering standpoint, I don’t think we’re looking at new technology as in – expanded hardware – being the problem.

    There may be issues with orphaned code on Amazon’s side, that the firmware has been entirely rewritten from the Kindle 1 to the Kindle 2, for example. I acknowledge all of that, but I think Amazon is in a position where backwards compatibility should be important for them and if it would mean rewriting the Kindle 1 firmware from scratch, in my eyes the sensible decision would have been to do that. Evidently, Amazon disagrees with me, because they already stopped servicing the Kindle 1 firmware over a year ago. In that light, to me it really seems a corporate shot in the foot.

  9. Guido


    No, you did not come across that way. It just reminded me that there will be people with that mindset down the line – how else could we explain the success of Smashwords?

    Thanks for pointing out that book to me. I do have some very good research material on Victorian London, including many letters, reports and records written during that time period, which helped. But I’ll definitely give the book you suggested a closer look also whenever I’ll go back to write another Jason Dark adventure.

  10. marctaro

    Wow. This is quite amazing and bizarre news. It’s the betamax of ebook formats. I will be very interested if there’s ever an explanation for this. Or if it has to go into the same bizarre corporate behavior as the netflix spit/unsplit. I wonder if there’s some arcane reason they make more money this way? Some ideas about new DRM or user tracking they want to add to the new format they can’t retro-fit to the existing books? OR more likely, some power faction within their engineers insists that this time they really truly have solved auto-conversion of formatting – and nobody inside the group has to power to object.

    • Guido

      I don’t think it’s anything nearly as sinister. The MOBI format was simply outdated and needed to be updated with modern features. I am sure that under the hood, KF8 is essentially nothing more than an extension of the MOBI format, which Amazon owns. But sadly, the fact the they don’t support it across all platforms is what worries me.

      It is simply a huge missed opportunity to do something really great with the Kindle platform as a whole. They could have elevated the entire platform to new heights instead of only the latest models.

  11. Kaz Augustin

    Yes! The first thing that popped into my head when I read the news was, “backwards compatibility”.

    You can’t just depend on Amazon to “convert” for you because there’s an entirely different philosophy at play in HTML5 vs Mobi. And if readers find a problem, they’re not going to blame Amazon’s bifurcated play. Oh no, they’re going to blame YOU! This is an interesting point that I bring up again two paragraphs down.

    Now, coming in on the tail end of this (being in the time-zone I’m in), I see that Amazon has also instigated two mitigation strategies. One, they say they’ll push out updates to make the older Kindles compatible with HTML5 (but obviously not all of them, as you point out Guido). Two, they’re offering trade-ins on the new Kindle Fire. But that doesn’t answer the basic conundrum.

    As far as Amazon are concerned, they are in a No-Lose situation. Even Apple and its iBookstore (or whatever they call it) has been a disaster in terms of customer uptake. With Jobs gone, I posit that the “Apple strategy” will only get worse (ref: Apple before Jobs joined again). Right now, Amazon thinks it can’t put a step wrong. And, for better or worse, they’re right. Where does that leave the indie author? Amazon is Teflon Company at the moment. Nothing sticks. So, if anything goes wrong, the readers are going to blame, not Amazon and their Mobi7 vs HTML4 vs Epub3 technicalities. They’re going to blame the author. And with two competing strategies to code for, and only one input file accepted, it’s not going to be a pretty picture for any content provider, whether indie…or legacy.

  12. ozmos

    Kaz, as I’m sure you know, web designers face the same problem with every major advance in web technology. Backward compatability is not always possible or even desirable, and I’m sorry to say it but if you are looking to format books that will look perfect forever even as tech moves on you should probably stick with print design and forget about ebooks.

  13. Scott Nicholson

    I don’t know about tech stuff, but Amazon is clearly moving toward ad-supported ebooks. Perhaps this is a way for Amazon to be interactive inside the ebooks they sell?

  14. Guido

    You guys all seem to completely misunderstand the point of my post.

    I have absolutely no problem with them improving their eBook format. As a matter of fact, I was the one advocating it, if you may remember. I just think the way they did it is the wrong way and they missed a major opportunity here.

    I simply don’t buy the argument that it may not possible to update K1, K2 and K3 with the same capabilities because I know – almost for a fact – that this not the case. The new features are nothing special in terms of software engineering. Every cell phone from 10 years ago could do that with the proper firmware.

  15. bowerbird

    you’re right when you advocate amazon can and should update its old machines.

    you’re wrong when you say that it’s easy to write a web-browser these days, but lots of people make that same mistake, and it’s not that important to the point… (but you shouldn’t repeat the falsehood.)

    the truth is that amazon is fully capable of writing a browser adequate for its format. (the hassle is that it must repeat the task for every machine out there in the world; but again, amazon can accomplish that.)

    so let’s focus on the most important point.

    that point is that amazon should not have split e-book functionality into two camps.

    you’re absolutely, positively right on that.

    but you’re wrong that it’s “a major misstep”.

    and your recommendation that designers aim for the lowest common denominator is likewise absolutely, positively wrong…

    everyone should use kf8, and nothing but.

    if it looks bad on older machines, sorry… most especially the k1 machines: tough! trade in that old crap for something better. (to repeat, amazon should do that for free.) the advice is clear, and it is unequivocal…

    go forward. don’t waste time looking back.


    • Guido

      Sorry, but I have to disagree with practically everything you said. Abandoning early adopters and previous customers can and never should be the path of your choice.

  16. Paul Salvette

    Thank you for the information, Guido. It looks like the release of KF8 will hasten the competition’s evolution of eReaders to support the EPUB3 format. From a formatting perspective, it looks like 2 source codes for every eBook will need to be created: one for EPUB2.01 and one for EPUB3. After that, the original KindleGen can be used to create the older style MOBI formats from the EPUB2.01 and KindleGen2 to make the KF8 from EPUB3. At least that’s how I see the workflow, but I guess it depends on how much HTML5 and CSS3 the new KF8 format actually supports.

    Do you happen to know if the new KF8 format will support JavaScript? There wasn’t any mention of it in the press release. Might be kind of handy for pop-up footnotes and interactive children’s books.

  17. Guido

    Javascript support. Boy, wouldn’t that be something.

    I would not think so, though, because the odds of creating unstable software are way too high. It is had to write an HTML page that crashes a device, but with Javascript it would take a less than 20 seconds. I do not think that’s a prospect Amazon is looking forward to. 🙂

  18. bowerbird

    guido said:
    > Sorry, but I have to disagree with
    > practically everything you said.

    i doubt you disagreed when i said you are right.

    so that leaves us with when i said you’re wrong.

    1. you’re wrong that it’s easy to write a browser.

    10 years ago, maybe. but it’s darn hard today.

    2. you’re wrong amazon made “a major misstep”.

    it’s a “misstep”, yes, but it’s hardly a “major” one.

    3. you’re wrong that designers shouldn’t use kf8.

    if you don’t use kf8, amazon will see no demand.

    amazon will see demand if older customers complain.

    in a nutshell, it’s _amazon_ doing the “abandoning”.

    so make _amazon_ pay for its own minor misstep.

  19. Joe Bruno

    @Paul Salvette: I think that when you say “2 formats” you probably mean “4 formats”. At present it’s impossible to write an ePub file that will work in an ePub reader and will also (after being Kindlegenned) work on a Kindle. From memory, the problem comes when indenting verse and wanting to make it word-wrap in a readable way, but there are other problems at the structural level too.

  20. S. Whitmore

    Backward incompatibility is a major misstep? Abandoning early adopters will help the competition? That must be why Microsoft and Apple are such tiny companies, always struggling to catch up with the likes of… um… I’m sure you get my point. Sometimes it’s feasible to provide backward compatibility, sometimes it’s not. If you’re not a Kindle developer, I think any judgment you make about that feasibility is basically meaningless. You can guess what might be involved, but you don’t know.

    I agree with the sentiment that publishers should shoot to support the latest and not worry too greatly about the older platforms. Yes, some blame may fall wrongly on the publisher, but I think at this stage of electronics consumerism, even not-very-savvy consumers understand that older devices won’t work (as well or at all) with new purchases. It’s been true pretty much across the board — I don’t have to be an audiophile to understand that my old stereo receiver won’t work with certain modern stereo gear. E-readers are just one tiny facet of the overall “gem” of technology progress — and obsolescence.

  21. Guido

    Rob, you may want to read that again. It clearly states that they will roll out KF8 to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices.

    Which means, neither kindle 1, nor Kindle 2, nor Kindle 3 will support the format.

  22. Guido

    Even the Kindle 1 is still far from being obsolete! eBook readers are not high technology driven like other gadgets, and there is no reason why people would not use a Kindle 1 even 5 years from now, so in this case in particular, I simply do not agree with the argumentation that technology has a way of progressing and that it is okay to abandon previous hardware.

    Whether it is a major or a minor misstep is up to personal interpretation, but when a company like Amazon misses an opportunity such as this, to create an incredibly strong unified platform, in my book that IS a major misstep that could have been prevented with more forethought.

  23. S. Whitmore

    How is the Kindle platform *not* technology-driven? They are computers. Specialized, but still computers, just like the computer in your car, refrigerator, smart phone, game console, etc.

    Whether something is “obsolete” is often subjective; you can still hook up a cart and horse to ride into town to buy groceries, and you can still read a paper book, so those old technologies could arguably be considered “not obsolete.” OTOH, you can’t take your horse and cart onto a freeway and you can’t do a string search for a desired quote in a paper book, so those older technologies do not perform as well as modern technologies, so they could arguably be considered “obsolete.”

    “Obsolete” can also be an indication of market value. I’d feel pretty sad for someone spending $75 for a Kindle 1, even though they cost hundreds of dollars when they first came out. And there is a very clear reason why many people would not want to use a Kindle 1 five years from now — it won’t do what they want it to do, just like my old stereo receiver doesn’t do what I want it to do. This doesn’t mean they will not use them, just as I’m still using my receiver, but that is a budget matter, not an expectation for it to have the market value it did years ago and/or to be compatible with newer products.

    I think it’s silly at best to say that Amazon was lazy, inept, and/or careless. But maybe I’m missing something here, as I am admittedly new to your blog. Maybe you have credentials for managing a major product line like the Kindle and can reasonably analyze Amazon’s choices based on that experience, or maybe you’re on the Kindle team and have inside knowledge of how things were decided…?

  24. Robert Nagle

    I truly enjoyed reading this post and comments. I’ve been predicting all sorts of incompatibility problems with Kindle when they decide to bring their ebook format to the 21st century. I think the solution is to let publishers upload two versions of the same ebook if they want and let publishers decide if they want to do it and readers decide if they want to try the new format. On the good side though, many publishers recognized that the mobi format was limited and primitive, so they did not try to do anything daring.

    I saw your previous post about things wrong with the Kindle format. Amen to that! I found I spent 3x as much time correcting formatting problems on the Kindle as on epub. At the same time, Amazon dominates the market in the US with 70-80% of the sales, so for now you can actually justify the time from a business standpoint. I actually like the Nook hardware, but BN’s store just doesn’t seem as active or as exciting. And with the exception of certain demographics for the Nook Color, people aren’t buying nook as aggressively.

    I guess I have to wonder: did going with an inferior format really give Amazon a competitive edge (especially now with the headaches of backwards compatibility)?

    • Guido

      I am not sure if it affects consumers really. You buy a Kindle and you look which books are available and that’s that. You buy a Nook or a Kobo reader, you look what’s available and that’s that. I don’t think that the majority of readers will look what’s going on outside the plate and least of all do they want to hear about eBook format or compatibility issues. All they want is an eBook reader that properly renders their book and creates a pleasant experience.

      MOBI did all that, as does EPUB and as will KF8. The issue – for me at least – is on the production side, where it would have been preferable if Amazon would have updated all of their device and reader software to incorporate the new format features. I mean, why take things halfway when they could gone all the way?

  25. Jo

    Did I miss the boat or did everybody else.

    If they’re just releasing this info to authors, does that mean that they’re selling an ebook reader that hasn’t got any books it can read?

    • Guido

      No, these Kindles still read MOBI files without problems, but for advanced formatting features you will need books formatted in the KF8 format.

  26. Mark

    I’m sure Amazon is not doing this to spite you. There are probably good reasons for it, such as performance limits of the hardware. Sometimes you have to make a clean break, as from OS 9 to OS X, and let the chips fall where they may.

    The most important thing is not gimmicky new features, but reliable support for the basics of HTML and CSS as needed in most books, which is a small subset of those languages.

    I hope that Amazon continues to allow readers to choose freedom from imposed design and allow them to just have their books appear in the standard look. Topaz was a disaster. I want the profession of book design to disappear into the space where blacksmithing went. All we need in most books is functional markup. Escaping from books set in Souvenir and Avant Garde with insufficient leading and narrow gutter margins was the main thrill of switching to the Kindle for me.

  27. Guido

    It is impossible that performance limitations were the reason behind this. The Kindle has reasonably suited processing power for something as trivial as HTML parsing. Your digital wrist watch has enough processing power to do that.

    I am pretty certain that the decision was driven by the fact that they simply do not want to expend the time and money necessary to make platform ports to the other devices. Simple as that, and I think, in part that is the reason why I find it so disappointing.

    If there were real performance or technical issues at play, I would understand it. I’ve been in that field for over 30 years, but I can guarantee you, that is not the case.

  28. Edward G. Talbot

    It seems to me that the reason for this approach is that they want people to upgrade. Will it work? I don’t know, quite possibly not. It’s a dicey area, because as people have noted, people may just assume that the publishers and authors dropped the ball, not that something is incompatible.

    But I think it’s likely that Amazon believes it will work. It really would have been a small amount of money (relatively speaking) to upgrade the firmware.

    • Guido

      Even if people upgrade to newer models, they will not abandon their old Kindles. They will hand them down to their kids or family, instead. So I don’t really think that could be the rationale behind it.

  29. Squiggy

    Despite Amazon’s ambiguous statement, I’m finding it hard to believe that the Kindle 3 (aka Keyboard) won’t be supported. A firmware upgrade to support documents in the Cloud was just released and it’s been such a successful device for them. I always felt the K1 and K2 were the early adopters / experimental versions, while the K3 was the first mainstream Kindle.

    • Guido

      @Squiggy, I agree with that notion in reference to the Kindle 1, but definitely not the Kindle 2. Kindle 2 brought about the complete mainstream break-through of the platform. But be that as it may, even abandoning the Kindle 1 is a bad idea because it does have a market share and what’s more important, it’s the market share of the early adopters, those people who paid $250 for the device! Leaving them in the dirt is a kick in the face.

    • Guido

      @Toshiya, yes, it is, but that doesn’t help you when your EPUB makes use of features that are not supported by the device. It does not mean that suddenly you can have tables on the Kindle 1, for example, simply by uploading an EPUB version that contains tables, because the firmware in the device cannot handle them. That’s why I always keep saying that upgrading the firmware across all existing platforms is so critical. That’s why it is so disappointing that Amazon will support KF8 only on the current generation devices.

  30. Toshiya TSURU

    @Guido Yes, that’s right.

    In japan. EPUB is becoming a standard eBook format. For many of the people
    who is not falmiliar with the situation around eBook, this situation is very confusing and flustrating.

    Although, currently the most discussing about is eBook’s posibility of interactivity, expressivity and avaiability, I think that universality of eBook should be discussed more.

    Noone doesn’t want to create many versions of eBook of same contents.

  31. Mark

    Looking at this in more detail:

    (1) The support for HTML 4 and CSS in Kindle Format 8 is mostly just tweaked. Not a whole lot of new stuff is supported. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the few improvements rolled into the older platforms. The list of supported HTML commands looks longer partly because they are included tags that are in fact already supported, but were left out of the other list by mistake, such as dl and dd.

    (2) Some of the new stuff just isn’t going to be of much use on the older Kindles without color support, and some seems mostly aimed at future higher resolution or larger screen devices. Specifically, the diagram and the graphic novel examples they illustrate wouldn’t even work that well on the Fire, unless you had really good eyesight.

    (3) Just as Apple delayed the iPhone API because their developers only had so much bandwidth, I suspect Amazon is simply not promising something that they know they cannot deliver right away. Some of the features may filter down as they go along or as they staff up. Just as Apple didn’t preannounce the API until was ready, Amazon probably doesn’t want to promise backward compatibility until it’s ready to ship.

    (4) Any sort of backward compatibility is going to run up against the problem that people will expect write-once-use-everywhere capability. That means most people will want some sort of auto-conversion. And they will probably want to write for the Fire and have a utility to convert to Kindle 1. This is far from a trivial engineering problem. In fact, it’s impossible. It will produce results along the lines of writing out HTML from MS Word, but worse. There would be complaints galore. Are there a few hand-coding people around who could work through all the limits and make good use of the new features on the Kindle 1? Sure, but that’s a niche market. Amazon is still at the point of trying to get major publishers to use their damn spellcheckers.

    (5) Does Amazon want Kindle 1 owners to upgrade? Sure. Are they greedy? Do they want to stiff Kindle 1 owners to make money? No, I think they just don’t want the hassle of supporting old platforms. Anyone with a Kindle 1 is an eccentric at this point. Hand-me-downs to kids? Be real! No kid would be caught dead in public with a Kindle 1. Maybe in 20 years it will be cool in a retro way. Now it ‘s completely dorky (and it always was, to be honest).

  32. James

    The Kindle Keyboard (or Kindle 3 as it’s called outside of amazon) is still considered current generation and will get the KF8 update.

    Only the K1 and K2 will not get the update.

  33. Virginia Llorca

    Like gmail is always saying my safari is out of date, download the new one. Why can’t they just do that for Kindles? Not perfect as the new IE is unusable on our computer.

    And I bought my Kindle with the ad capabilities for a huge discount and the ads are unobtrusive, like screen savers and one was 50% off the leather covers so I’m okay with that.

    I’m too much in love with it I guess to absorb criticism.

  34. Stanley Lover

    Oh, dear! This is all very confusing to an oldie like me ploughing thru your excellent Formatting Guide.

    Does this mean that your guide has to be rewritten/updated, to help us achieve the perfection you advocate, and that we had better wait until that happens? Because I’ve got enough on my plate without formatting for multiple Kindles.

    Sorry, Guido, but I’m disillusioned and inclined to stop attempting to do it myself.

    • Guido

      The changes in Amazon’s new Kindle format are not all that relevant for novel-type releases. The enhancement and additions they offer ultimately relate to things like picture books, interactive books, comic books and other publications that by nature need a lot of bells and whistles. Apart from some basic things, I see now need why I should format novels in anything but the old MOBI format even in the future.

      So now, there is no need to relearn. Everything the tutorial teaches you will still be applicable in the exact same way. The new format only expands on that.

  35. Stanley Lover

    Thanks for the reassurance Guido.

    Except that I’d like to eBook several of my publications which have much illustration (Google my name for some idea of the task) so am a bit worried about all ‘the bells and whistles’ complications.

    I add my congratulations to the many who have praised your formatting guide. I would never have attempted to go it alone.

  36. Aaron

    Does anyone know how to contact the gods at Amazon? I must publish in Kindle Print Replica and can’t even figure out who to contact. I’m at my wits end here.

  37. dgatwood

    In case somebody finds this and is trying to figure out how best to handle drop caps or other floating content, kindlegen (beginning in 2.3) supports basic CSS media queries when generating content.

    So for your floated image example, you might do something like this, for example:

    Click here to view image.

    And show the image and hide the link on KF8 like this:

    @media amzn-kf8 {
    .myimagestyle {
    float: left;
    /* Other KF8 style goes here */
    .myimagelinkstyle {
    display: none;

    or like this:

    @media not amzn-mobi {
    .myimagestyle {
    float: left;
    /* Other KF8 style goes here */
    .myimagelinkstyle {
    display: none;

    And hide the image and show the link on classic Kindle readers like this:

    @media amzn-mobi {
    .myimagestyle {
    /* Styles for classic Kindles go here */
    display: none;
    .myimagelinkstyle {
    display: inline;

  38. dgatwood

    Sorry, WordPress ate my img and anchor tags. Something like this, for example:

    <a class=”imagelinkstyle” href=”foo.png”>Click here to view image.</a>
    <img class=”imagestyle” src=”foo.png” />

  39. Bob Barr

    I want to raise an issue about word-wrap and FONT sizes for thousands of us who have serious eye disabilities such as AMD.

    I have a 4 year old Kindle DX, and using it’s max font size, I have been able once more to read books, a pleasure resumed at last.

    Thinking about a new Kindle, but cannot seem to get a straight answer.
    Which of the new Kindles have the same or larger fonts as the largest on my old DX?
    At the same time, word-wrap is ESSENTIAL, as enlarging text on my iPad is useless, as the process requires me to sweep back and forth to read a full line, lacking word-wrap, and that is certainly no way to read a book.

    Would appreciate, if you can, an answer to my email.

    Thank you

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