I’ve been holding on to this bit of news for a couple weeks now, waiting for a good story to develop or an opportune time to drop the bombshell. I couldn’t build a bigger story but given the bad news about the KF today, I think today was a good time to share the news.
Just under 2 months ago Amazon announced that they were going to expand the Kindle ebook format with new support for HTML5 based content. They’re calling it Kindle Format 8, and we know little aside from the tags that they will use. We still don’t know what all it will do, but it’s apparent that Amazon wants to release a competitor to Epub and Epub3.
There also hasn’t been any definite release date for the new format, but it looks like Amazon is already tracking which Kindles and Kindle apps support it.
A few weeks ago I was looking at the source code for the Manage My Kindle page. I’ve been doing this ever since I first found signs of (the then not yet announced) Kindle Cloud, the 5GB of space that Amazon gives each Kindle owner. I check the page about once a month now, and that’s how I discovered that (according to Amazon) the KF already supports Kindle Format 8.
As you can probably guess, Amazon tracks the abilities of each app and Kindle. One of the check flags (for all the apps and devices) is called MOBI8_SUPPORTED. I don’t know quite what that means, but I can tell you that it wasn’t there when I found the code for the Kindle Cloud. My guess is that this little bit of code tracks which devices support the new enhanced Kindle format.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to prove it. I know that the KF has the flag set to 1, which means it’s currently the only Kindle that supports the content.
Since I am at an impasse, I decided to share this with the world and see what everyone else could come up with. I present to you an interesting puzzle. I’m hoping someone can solve it.
If you do have at it, you should know that the current tools for making Kindle ebooks will shred the HTML5 formatting. I was doing some editing by hand (and that may be why it didn’t work).
BTW, one interesting detail about the Kindle Fire is that in some ways it is more of an app than a Kindle. Yes, Amazon lists it with the Kindle hardware, but it has features limitations similar to the Kindle reading apps. (Some bloggers have even copied the reading app onto other tablets.) Of course, that’s actually good news because it means that the Kindle Android app is half a step from also having this new format support.
If you find anything interesting, let me know.