Kindle about to handle ePub? Smart move by Amazon if it’s so!
June 15, 2009 | 6:37 pm
Speculation alert! Speculation alert! And with that out of the way, I’ll raise the possibility that the Kindle might be doing ePub soon—A Good Thing.
“In the future, Amazon.com’s Kindle e-book reader will display more book formats beyond its own,” writes Saul Hansell in the New York Times. ”And you should also expect to see Kindle books on a lot more devices.
“That was the clear implication of comments that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, made at a conference in New York Monday on disruptive business models.”
So will ePub be the next format the Kindle supports, given major publishers’ use of the format for wholesale distribution if nothing else? Stay tuned. I’ll especially be interested in what kind of DRM system, if any, Amazon uses with ePub. Not to mention DRM in a PDF context. Will Amazon use Adobe’s DRM system with either? Nothing is out of the question here, given the speed at which tech moves.
In related news, Bezos said that he preferred to keep the device and book businesses separate—with each expected to be self-supporting. That means charging customers the price of the machines. But Bezos is open to the possibility of lowering the price of the gadgets in return, say, for customers committing to buys of X number of books.
Bezos, in a similar vein, said he wanted Kindle books on a number of devices, “at the same $9.99 price points,” even if it meant that the book people and hardware people were competing against each other. Wise words. Hey, I call ‘em as I see ‘em. What Bezos seemingly promises, if executed, is sensible not only from a consumer viewpoint but also as antitrust-proofing. Amazon-sold books able to be used on the Sony Reader, anyone?
No guarantee that Jeff will be heroic. But if I’m reading the tealeaves correctly, he may see that a more open approach will lead to a more sustainable business.
Of course, proprietary DRM is bad for readers no matter how many choices of poison they have. But at least with ePub as the actual format under the gook—at least if chosen by customers—life would be simpler. If the Kindle can read DRMed ePub, remember, it can read nonDRMed ePub. Definite progress if it happens!
Oh, and by the way, I wonder if news of Asus’s $300 laptop/tablet might just have a little to do with Amazon’s talk of more openness in regard to formats and hardware. Amazon for a long time has been dropping hints of openness. But hints are a long way from action. Let’s see the latter for real!