murder.jpgFrom the Diesel ebook blog.

Mobipocket, one of our formats here at the Diesel eBook Store, was created by the lovely French couple, Thierry Brethes and Nathalie Ting. Their smart and lofty goal was to introduce an eBook format that could be rendered on a multitude of devices. It’s no wonder that Mobipocket quickly become as popular as it is. Whereas other earlier formats were designed for a particular device or company, Mobipocket strived to unite all eBooks on any and all reading devices. Democracy in action. Vive la liberté!

But, like all good murder stories, this one gets complicated.

In 2005, Amazon was hunting for a new format / platform, acquired Mobipocket. Ironically enough, Amazon then did a complete 180 on Mobi’s original intention by creating a new hybrid version that it promptly tethered to that little white plastic gismo, the Kindle (ever hear of it?). It is said the Kindle format is 99% pure Mobipocket with a wee bit of gobbledygook thrown in, so that it can be rendered on the Kindle or Kindle-supported apps, only.

In November 2006, Thierry and Nathalie said au revoir to Amazon.

Read the rest of the story here.


  1. I’d like to see Amazon let us read our Mobipocket books on our Kindles and I’d be happy. Or, at least convert the titles to the Kindle format. Either way, I’m not holding my breath. I was introduced to ebooks via my Palm T/X. A great device for reading and playing games. A precursor to the iPod Touch w/out the touch.

  2. Yeah, I started reading ebooks in the Mobipocket format a few years back. I though, “man this is the future”, as it looked so promising. Imagine, a format that allows seamless transition between devices. It’s an ebook readers dream and goes against anything Amazon stands for.

    Sorry Amazon, but you suck. I’ll stick with open ePub and a reader than can display them. I am very happy not being tied to one device and one store.

  3. Just another good reason to keep buying from Amazon. The best way to tell Amazon how pleased ebookers are with how it has handled Mobipocket is for ebookers to continue buying ebooks from Amazon. I wonder if Amazon will let those who bought mobi versions of books convert them to ePub, or will Amazon require conversion to a Kindle-only format, or simply not permit conversion at all.

  4. It does seem that Amazon could make a number of eBook fanatics very happy by doing a simple conversion, allowing us to access our MobiPocket libraries on the various Kindle products. They already have customers locked into that format. Why not keep them locked in by bringing them forward to the new model?

    Rob Preece

  5. Actually the Kindle does fine with any non DRM mobi file.

    Since the kindle store does not hold many german ebooks, I usually buy my ebooks in epub format from german distributors, deDRM them and convert them to .mobi or .prc using mobipocket creator or calibre.

    AFAIK is there even a solution to generate a mobipocket compatible serial number for your Kindle so you can buy DRM-mobi-books and read them directly on the Kindle.

    Epub may be fine, but even with epub you can not read any DRM file on any other device, since epub allows different DRM-schemes which often are not compatible one to the other.

  6. devini,
    I’ll write here part of what I wrote at Diesel ebook, where it’s awaiting moderation anyway.

    I’m probably not understanding an important area at diesel-ebook, but I do have Mobipocket books all over my Kindles.

    Did you mean Mobipocket books that have another type of DRM over them?

    I can just move any non-DRM’d MOBI book to the Kindle via USB and it’s directly readable.

    In fact, most of us use:
    (1) Calibre (free) to convert non-DRM’d ePub files to Kindle-readable MOBI files and
    (2) MobiPocket Creator (free also) to convert non-DRM’d PDF files to MOBI format for our Kindles when we want to, in the case of PDF files,

    (1) add annotations (while still also having the PDF file to reference the original intended layout which can be lost in conversion);
    (2) do Kindle-type searches, more easily readable in larger fonts than most PDFs will use;
    (3) read larger fonts or use narrower margins; and
    (4) even use text-to-speech when we can’t be sitting there reading.

    When we send an attachment to Amazon to do a conversion -for- us (example: a MS Word doc file or a PDF), what we get back is essentially a MOBI file although the extension may say “azw.”

  7. It’s all very well to talk about non-DRM Mobipocket books. What about the Secure Mobipocket titles? I bought hundreds of them while using Palm devices, then was unable to read them on my iPhone. Having paid for these books, do we have any legal way to go on reading them?

    I find it particularly ironic that publishers continually stir up moral panic about “pirating” books, while deliberately creating situations (killing formats, geographic limitations) which give customers no legal recourse over books they’ve already bought or are perfectly willing to buy.

  8. I still use the Alpha version of the Jave Mobipocket reader on my Sony W995. Things have come full circle: from my Palm Centro running Mobipocket to the various e-ink devices I have owned and back to my Walkman phone running Mobipocket. It works rather well despite being an alpha; the biggest problem with it is that is very finicky about having more than one dictionary and about the way I add books. Other than that it is quick and versatile. It’s actually better than many eReading programs that get released for smartphones these days, which lack functions like search, dictionary, and annotation.

    @Clytie: Strip the DRM or, if you have a Kindle, use the script which converts them into Kindle-compatible books. It takes a few minutes to do and is not hard at all.

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