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Kindle Format 8 Demo Now Available

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On Monday I posted about the new Kindle Format 8 and how I was pretty sure that the Kindle Fire could already read it. It looks like I was right.

This morning someone left a comment and confirmed my suspicions. Kindle Format 8 is in beta right now and it is being tested by a select group of publishers.

I’ve checked with Amazon about when it will be released to the rest of us, but I never got a response.

My source pointed me at the guidelines for the new format as well as the tools needed to make KF8 ebooks. While I cannot share the tools, I can share a demo file I made. It only displays correctly on the Kindle Fire, but it does work.

First let me give you the file (because I know that you’re dying to try it). You’ll need to transfer it over USB; I suspect that emailing it to your KF could mangle the formatting.


Second Demo (embedded fonts, tables, and more)

It doesn’t demo everything you can do with KF8, but it was made from a 2009 Epub (source) that used a lot of the more advanced formatting features (which at the time you couldn’t do with a Kindle ebook). Note that this is an Epub file, not Epub3; I’m not sure that Epub3 will convert properly.

Sidenote: I’m willing to post any converted files I’m sent so we can all see them.

My source shared a number of details, and I spent most of today reading the guidelines. Amazon is using a fair amount of proprietary tags for some features. For example, the zooming on fixed layout ebooks appear to be all Amazon’s html code, not software features. I was also told that the new format is more of an update to the exiting Kindle Format, not something completely new. From what I can see that certainly appears to be true. There is a high degree of similarity between these guidelines and the previous one.

I’ve converted a few Epub files myself, and I was a little surprised how well they transferred over. It looks like Amazon paid a lot of attention to the Epub conversion. I’ve read through the error report and virtually everything came through the way it was supposed to.

But KF8 doesn’t support everything, unfortunately. For example, the audio and video tags used in the iOS apps won’t work on the Kindle Fire (and they are mentioned by name as not working).  And there’s no indication of any plans to add them. My source also said that publishers had to modify their Epub files so the table of contents could be converted properly.

I’ve also checked and the guidelines says Javascript is not supported, and neither are some HTML5 tags:

  • Canvas
  • Command
  • Datalist
  • Script (reserved for Amazon use only)
  • Base
  • Form
  • Eventsource
  • KeyGen
  • Input
  • Embed (Only SVG is supported for Kindle Fire)
  • Object (Only SVG is supported for Kindle Fire)
  • Param
  • Noscript

On a related note, if you want more KF8 ebooks you can probably go buy them. There’s a bunchaton of graphic novels available exclusively for the Kindle Fire. Those are almost certainly KF8 ebooks. The same might also be true for the KF exclusive magazines (like this one), but I’m not sure.

Now that I’ve had some time to think it over, I’m beginning to get the impression that Kindle format  is a response to Epub; it’s not an attempt to match the abilities of Epub3. There’s still plenty of room for Epub3 to get ahead of KF8, including in terms of active content.

But before that can happen we’re going to need devices and apps that support Epub3 as well as tools to make it. Who wants to be that we’ll see KF8 on the market first?

P.S. If anyone has an Epub you’d like me to convert, let me know. I want to see what this format can do.

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Gary McLaren December 13, 2011 um 8:56 pm

Thank you for sharing this information, Nate. I know that many indie authors are eagerly waiting for more answers regarding Kindle Format 8. And screenshots will be especially helpful for those of us based in countries to which Amazon is not yet shipping the Kindle Fire. Cheers!

adan lerma December 13, 2011 um 11:14 pm

any word or sign yet if the epub files from pages appl from apple will still be able to be converted via something like calibre?

or is amazon gonna have it’s own converter for epub files?


Nate Hoffelder December 13, 2011 um 11:37 pm

a pages epub should convert without a problem.

adan lerma December 14, 2011 um 7:21 am

thanks nate, and do you think i’ll still be able to use calibre?

or maybe have to use a special converter from amazon? i didn’t have much luck with the tools amazon provided, and did much better w/calibre

'course all that could just change with the new tools and such

well i’ve signed up for your site 😉 so i should be able to keep up w/new stuff, thanks! great info

Nate Hoffelder December 14, 2011 um 7:53 am

Calibre will be able to make the new kindle format, yes – just as soon as someone can write the code.

adan lerma December 14, 2011 um 8:52 am

yay! thanks nate 😉

matt harrison December 13, 2011 um 11:58 pm

Thanks for sharing. I tried the Jerome demo on both my Android phone and Fire. It seems to demo text wrapping on the fire. The android just threw in the images inline. I slightly underwhelmed. Definitely only an epub2 (not 3) competitor….

Paul Durrant December 14, 2011 um 3:04 am

Looking at the compiled file, it seems that Amazon are (very sensibly, IMO), putting all the complicated interpretation of HTML4 and CSS2 into the compiler (kindlegen).

For instance, the bit of for the start of the chapter you illustrated (with the inset picture) looks like this:

It is the same when you go to the sea-side. I always determine — when thinking over the matter in London — that I’ll get up early every morning, and go and have a dip before breakfast, and I religiously pack up a pair of drawers and a bath towel. I always get red bathing drawers. I rather fancy myself in red drawers. They suit my complexion so. But when I get to the sea I don’t feel somehow that I want that early morning bathe nearly so much as I did when I was in town.

Exactly how that gets interpreted into the correct wrap around the picture I’m not sure, but it looks like it’ll need a lot less computer power to decode it than the full HTML4/CSS2 that’s in ePubs.

fjtorres December 14, 2011 um 7:20 am

That has been the philosophy of Mobi from day one, no?
To "offload" as much of the processing of the formatting code to the conversion app.
In this, they are following the original vision of the Open Ebook Format, where OEB (and later epub) was supposed to be as a publisher archiving format that could be converted to retail formats.
Essentially, Amazon is betting that rich-format epubs and epub3 will require more hardware power to directly process in the reader app and that KF8 pre-processing will allow deploying those books to lower-powered hardware.

Nate is probably safe to bet that KF8 Kindles and apps will come to market before any epub3 readers. And it may not be a viable retrofit to existing readers. Apple, of course, being the exception since iBooks relies of the higher-power iPad. I’ve long expected Apple to be the first to deploy epub3 and it looks increasingly likely. It may even be that epub3 hardware requirements will start at 1GHz. And how many ebook readers meet that spec?

Bottom line: KF8 is *not* epub3 by another name (that’ll be up to KF9) but rather an attempt to shoehorn as much of epub3 as will fit into current gen eink hardware to steal a march on the epub vendors.

Development to keep in mind: Both Book and Kobo have the ability to imitate Amazon and create proprietary sub-set formats of their own– epub2.5, as it were–to deploy epub3 books to *their* walled garden installed base. This would, of course, take epub fragmentation beyond the dueling DRM wrappers down to the deployed content level and take the epub "standard" back to the original OEB vision.

It all hinges on just how demanding the *average* epub3 book turns out to be, but Amazon’s bet suggests they will need FIRE/iPad class hardware. So the choice is going to be between forgoing backwards compatibility (and the existing installed base) or adhering to the full epub "standard" and starting from scratch.

Tricky choice.
Doesn’t look like epub3 is going to be a magic bullet for the ABA crowd any time soon.

fjtorres December 14, 2011 um 7:27 am

Whoops. Make that: "*Nook* and Kobo have the ability…"
A straight typo, for a change.

Paul Durrant December 16, 2011 um 2:45 am

Whoops! Looking closer I find out that the KF8 sample file given here actually contains TWO versions of the file. The first (& the one I looked at) must be for older Kindles, since it DOESN’T include the new clever formatting. The second I don’t know about exactly yet, but I’m guessing it’s probably XHTML.

Nate Hoffelder December 16, 2011 um 7:20 am

The second could be straight Epub. Or the Epub could be a third art of the file. The file is certainly big enough.

Georganna Hancock December 14, 2011 um 11:19 am

When you learn Amazon has released update to KG, KDP help, etc on KF8 – which channel will you alert first – FB, RSS, email, on site here or other? Thanks!

Nate Hoffelder December 14, 2011 um 12:01 pm

The website. All the rest are automatic feeds from the blog. And don’t worry; when it is released everyone will be talking about it.

Georganna Hancock December 14, 2011 um 12:23 pm

Thanks! My goal is to be one of the first to tweet about it as #kndlpub news by @GLHancock. Just don’t got no inside sources until now.

Georganna Hancock December 14, 2011 um 11:20 am

Oh, ha-ha, or Twitter?

Jim Adcock December 14, 2011 um 12:53 pm

I’m not having luck getting the Jerome example working on my Kindle Fire — when I open this I get chapter headers on the top of what is otherwise empty blank white pages. I am running system version 6.2_user_3003020 — anyone got any ideas? Or exact instructions on how they downloaded and installed this on their Kindle Fire in order to get it to work?

Ceci December 19, 2011 um 2:42 pm

I have exactly the same problem with any graphic novels I attempt to read on my kindle fire. I’ve been working with amazon customer support for about 2-3 weeks on this issue. So far, I’ve only seen one other person who’s been affected and he started a thread in amazon’s kindle discussions. FWIW, restoring my kindle to factory defaults fixes the issue…for about 1-2 weeks. Eventually, graphic novel files go back to just displaying a blank page. It’s not the file…I’ve re-dowloaded it. I haven’t rooted my kindle or installed anything not from amazon’s store. The only think I can figure that might be going on is there’s something like bad memory…something that over time is corrupting part of the OS. Whatever is happening, my kindle moves from rendering these files fine, but being utterly incapable of showing them. I’m getting ready to ask amazon for a replacement for my Fire. Something must be wrong with my unit. I’m stumped as to what else it could be.

Nate Hoffelder December 19, 2011 um 2:54 pm

No idea, but I have since developed a similar problem with another KF8 ebook. It won’t open either.

Ceci December 19, 2011 um 3:01 pm

I’m going to be curious as to whether more people start to have this issue as KF8 files become more common. Other than becoming unable to render these files over time, my Fire seems to have no other issues. It just eventually stops displaying graphic novels.

Nate Hoffelder December 19, 2011 um 3:06 pm

Me too. I saw the exact same behavior. First the file worked and then it stopped working.

Amazon Readies Kindle Format 8 | Library Technology Launchpad December 14, 2011 um 10:12 pm

[…] is the latest format developed to offer rich content.  Amazon hasn’t yet released it, but some bloggers are suggesting that the Kindle Fire may already support […]

Michael Joyner December 15, 2011 um 9:51 am

Embedded Cherokee Language Fonts? (Here is an ePub to test)

It is from this discussion:

Nate Hoffelder December 15, 2011 um 10:09 am

Now that is an interesting challenge. I’m downloading it now.

Nate Hoffelder December 15, 2011 um 10:14 am

The layout doesn’t quite work and the images don’t exactly fit the screen, but the fonts did make it through.

Formatul Kindle 8 « I think therefore i blog December 15, 2011 um 12:03 pm

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Michael Joyner December 15, 2011 um 12:19 pm

It is good to hear the fonts "made it through". Can you post screenshots?

Nate Hoffelder December 15, 2011 um 12:26 pm

I thought I did. Just a second I while I post them again.

Nate Hoffelder December 15, 2011 um 1:14 pm

Okay, now this is weird. I cannot read that KF8 file anymore. The previewer now freezes.

Michael Joyner December 15, 2011 um 1:34 pm

Reboot Windows? 🙂

Nate Hoffelder December 15, 2011 um 1:57 pm

Ugh. I guess I have to.

cookie December 16, 2011 um 1:51 pm

"My source also said that publishers had to modify their Epub files so the table of contents could be converted properly"

I wonder what he had to do. Thing that sucks about converting EPUB to MOBI using calibre is the horrendous indentation it causes on multi-level TOCs.

adan December 16, 2011 um 4:57 pm

i hadn’t heard about this, but yea, i’m in on wondering about "had to be done"

thanks for the heads up

Nate Hoffelder December 16, 2011 um 5:16 pm

From what I can tell, the converter doesn’t automatically convert the external TOC on the Epub. The only KF8 that I saw that had a TOC also had an internal in the Epub before it was converted.

adan December 16, 2011 um 5:25 pm

ahh, recently i’ve been creating an internal index anyway, pretty similar to the one automatically created, but with some additional linkings i felt were links i myself liked and therefore other people might find helpful

this is not a general guideline, but rather particular to the ebook i’m working on

don’t know the etiquette, but anyone’s curious (it’s no huge innovation 😉 ) the Look inside feature from amazon usually shows my whole inside index

i’m epublishing 30 years of poetry and other work into subject ebooks, and the itemizing, and being able to link to categories, in the index, then from there to the category starting page or individual poem within that category, is something i found really useful

my ebooks are listed under my full name, felipe adan lerma

if this info isn’t appropriate here, please let me know; i’ll be glad to delete / remove etc


cookie December 16, 2011 um 6:07 pm

I don’t know if would be of useful to those using Kindle tools, but the free EpubFixer utility has a feature that allows the user to add an inline table of contents to an EPUB, which it generates from the metadata TOC. Adding this is useful, since not all devices support multi-level metadata TOCs

P.S. I don’t know if it is technically correct to say "metadata TOCs," but for lack of a better word.. …

Kindle Format 8 Tools In Beta, KF8 May Already Be On Your Kindle Fire – The Unofficial Kindle Fire Blog December 17, 2011 um 2:02 pm

[…] Source: The Digital Reader […]

Darwin Lopena December 27, 2011 um 5:47 am

The embedded font doesnt work on my kfire…

Darwin Lopena December 27, 2011 um 5:51 am

The wrap around image doesn’t work as well like the one in your screenshot…

Darwin Lopena December 27, 2011 um 9:33 am

Ooops just ignore my previous comments. Its very strange because when I opened the sample files a few hours after my first comments the wrap around seems to be fine and some of the embedded fonts are now showing up… hmmm… i have no idea what’s going on…

Nate Hoffelder December 27, 2011 um 10:42 am

No problem.

Support for KF8 is still in beta. Weird things happen.

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[…] le plus marquant a trait au support du format KF8, littéralement Kindle Format 8. Ce format basé sur du HTML5 permet de jouer du contenu audio et vidéo lors de la lecture de […]

Kindle for Android Update Adds KF8 Support – Comics, Improved Formatting, & More – The Digital Reader March 24, 2012 um 4:16 pm

[…] that it has support for at least some of the rest of KF8.I tested a couple of the demo files I uploaded back in December. I can see evidence of complex formatting like that found in 3 Men in  Boat. The text wraps around […]

Sharf September 17, 2012 um 12:28 pm

Please can anyone provide the code the to fixed layout.


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