Paul over at TeleRead finally beat me to something today. He got an email from one publisher that tipped him to a new Kindle ebook format.
Alongside Kindle (AZW) and Kindle (Topaz), Amazon now sell "print replica" ebooks. This is a completely new format and you need to update to the latest version of K4PC in order to use it. (It's also US only, darnit.) If you read the help pages, it sounds like Amazon have created a format that is something like PDF. Also, look at the toolbar that I copied from K4PC. It looks a lot like most PDF tool bars I've seen.
Yes, I have one of these ebooks (and yes, I found a way to fix my broken copy of K4PC). It seems to use a different suffix (AZW4) than my other Kindle ebooks. I would take it apart but that's a little beyond my abilities.The file has about 150 pages (counting the cover) long and 10.8MB in size.
Update: I've been told that publishers submit a PDF for this format. My source is also pretty sure that this is nothing more than a wrapper for the PDF, but he's not sure.
I tried to rename it as a PDF and Adobe couldn't make heads or tails of it. Oh, and I just noticed that it actually notes the cover by name as well as the front matter (numbered i-xvi). That is most definitely new and strongly suggests that this is somehow based on PDF (or some other fixed layout format).
BTW, before you buy a print replica ebook, keep in mind that it requires the latest version of Kindle for PC\OSX. That means that the DRM is very likely unbroken (at the moment).
So far as I can tell, the new Kindle Print Replica format (KPR) appears to be a full featured format. It has all of the same annotation options as the other Kindle formats (highlights, notes, copy, etc). It can also use the dictionary/Google/Wikipedia search option.
And it also seems to be mostly concentrated in textbooks and technical manuals. At least, I'm pretty sure KPR are all textbooks; there's no one single listing so I'm not sure. Here's a Google search that will help you find some if you like.
Huh. I guess this means that fixed layout formats (like PDF or KPR) have won in academia. And I mean they really won; this new format is Amazon's concession that reflowable content just isn't usable for some textbooks.
But I'm not surprised; I've seen far too many PDFs with complex content that simply could not be shown in any other format.
And this new format also means that Amazon upset the textbook market again. Forget digital textbook rentals; they're just ebooks sold under a different contract. No, this new format means Amazon can now go after all the science and math textbooks that they couldn't sell before.
And that is going to make things interesting.