Understanding ebook formats
For years, there were two main competing ebook file formats: MOBI and EPUB. Amazon used MOBI for its Kindle devices, while Apple used EPUB for what were then iBooks and are now Apple Books.
For a while, it looked like we might end up with a single standard, as most companies adopted EPUB. But this was not to be, as Amazon stuck stubbornly to MOBI.
You could at least use apps like Calibre to convert between formats, but both Amazon and Apple asked themselves what they could do to make matters worse, and each concluded that the answer was to convert the standard they used into a proprietary format. Amazon turned .mobi files into .azw3 ones, while Apple labelled their ebook files as .epub while adding in digital rights management (DRM) to break compatibility.
Amazon adding EPUB support to Kindles
Good eReader spotted that Amazon will be adding EPUB support to Kindles later in the year. This means that you’ll be able to use the Send To Kindle feature to load EPUB files onto your Kindle, and then read them there.
Amazon has announced that all of the modern Kindle e-readers will support the most popular ebook format in the world, EPUB. The company recently updated their Send to Kindle documentation and stated that it will add support for EPUB later this year. Send to Kindle will suspend the ability to load in MOBI, since it is an older file format and won’t support the newest Kindle features for documents. If you have MOBI books already on your Kindle, they will continue to be accessible. Amazon is also disabling to the ability to send AZW to the Kindle.
Send to Kindle is a very underrated system to send files to supported devices registered to your Amazon account. You can send books, PDF files and other supporteed documents to your e-reader. Most people send files as attachments in their favorite email client, such as Outlook, GMAIL or even Hotmail. You can send the documents from your main email account and the TO address is your special Kindle email account, you can learn about this feature in their official help file.
In principle, this would mean you could upload your Apple Books purchases onto your Kindle. Only … no. Apple’s DRM means that although the files claim to be EPUB, you can’t convert them to other formats.
Reading Apple Books on Kindle still won’t work
The change Amazon has announced won’t change this.
In order to send EPUB books to your Kindle, they have to be DRM-Free, so the books cannot have any encryption.
Not only that, but TNW spotted that Amazon is adding EPUB support ‘in the most Amazon way possible.’
Rather than supporting native EPUB files, Amazon is instead converting them to KF8 (or AZW3). What this means is that if one day you decide to escape Amazon’s walled garden, it’s going to be tough (although not impossible) to get all your ebooks off the Kindle and onto another ereader.
But, of course, that’s what the company wants.
Opening up EPUB ‘support’ in this most Amazon of ways is merely sating the small percentage of Kindle power users who like to get their books from elsewhere. Effectively, Bezos’ behemoth is sliding open the door a crack to let some air in, but not letting any out.
Many years ago, I got access to a book-scanning machine, and converted most of my paper book collection to ebooks. Doing it myself meant I could choose the format, which I could convert at will. When it comes to buying ebooks, however, I prefer the flexibility of Amazon, as I can read books on a Kindle device or an iPhone or iPad in the Kindle app. This move isn’t going to change that, and as TNW’s Callum Booth says, that’s entirely by design on Amazon’s part.
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