My colleague with the confusingly named blog pondered this morning on whether Amazon should add support for Epub on the Kindle platform.
I’ve wondering about that point for the past few years (in fact, I asked this very same question back in 2011), so I’d like to answer his question:
Fire tablets support ePub with apps available through Amazon’s own appstore so what’s the big difference?
Adobe DRM’d ebook are obviously out of the question; Amazon will never in a million years pay Adobe for rights to use their crummy DRM. But why not add support for DRM-free ePub ebooks?
Why should Amazon care if someone is reading an ePub they got five years ago when the odds are the person is going to use the Kindle to make future ebook purchases?
It seems like an easy way to convert a bunch of longtime Kindle holdouts into new customers. Lots of people have acquired vast numbers of ePub ebooks over the years and that keeps them from wanting to get a Kindle. Even though converting ePubs to Kindle format is an easy process with Calibre, it’s still a hassle that some people don’t want to work through.
Amazon should at the very least add ePub as a supported format to their Kindle format conversion service. Being able to send ePubs over email or with a Send to Kindle app and have them get automatically converted to Kindle format would be a big advantage for Amazon.
I have been wondering about this same point for years, and while I can’t speak for Amazon I do have a few ideas about why Amazon has the no-Epub policy.
If I were in Amazon’s position, I would avoid supporting Epub simply because it cuts down on my tech support headaches and software development hassles.
No Epub support means not having to maintain yet another rendering engine so the ebooks can be displayed, and it means not having to tell users that yes the Kindle supports Epub – just not the DRMed ebook the user has. It also means not having to explain to users who a Kindle Epub files doesn’t work on other ereaders due to the DRM restrictions.
Speaking as a reader, I would much prefer Epub being supported on the Kindle platform, or at least through the email conversion service. (Other services will take an Epub and send it to your Kindle, but not Amazon). This would help me a lot.
But how would it help Amazon? And would it be worth their time and expense?
Remember, the Kindle platform controls the majority of the trade ebook market, and most of the remainder is claimed by iBooks – which has proprietary DRM and restrictions on downloading even DRM-free ebooks.
Those Epub users who want to load their ebooks on to the Kindle represent a tiny fraction of a market which has arguably already chosen the Kindle formats as the standard.
Why should Amazon support a non-standard format when it already supports the market standard?
image by pasa47