New ebook format from Amazon

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Received the following email from Paul Durrant of Durrant Publishing in the UK:

Along with Kindle for Mac 1.7 and Kindle for PC 1.7, release a few days ago, Amazon have introduced a new ebook format for their Kindle ebook store. Called “Print Replica”, it is Amazon’s solution for books with a page layout that is too complex to reproduce using their usual Mobipocket-derived ebook format.

A “print replica” ebook resembles a PDF version of the book. The page layout is fixed, and the only viewing options are to zoom and to pan. There’s no font resizing or page reflow available.

This may explain why the format can only be read with Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac, as trying to read a fixed page size format on  the relatively small screen of a Kindle is a sub-optimal reading experience, unless the fixed page size is the same as the Kindle screen. Amazon has not said whether current or future Kindles will support the format.

Another innovation introduced with this new format is the ability to rent ebooks rather than buying them. Books can typically be rented for between 30 to 360 days, although the exact limits will vary from book to book. And rented book can be bought with full credit given for the rental fee, if bought before then end of the rental period.

Full details can be found in Amazon’s Help pages. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200738250

4 Comments on New ebook format from Amazon

  1. I’ve been investigating the format since finding out about it on Saturday. First, a correction. It seems that ebook renting from Amazon is NOT limited to the new “Print Replica” format. There are Kindle/Mobipocket format ebooks also available for renting. I can also now confirm, having examined a sample of one of the new books, that internally they are mostly an ordinary PDF, but wrapped up with some other data (perhaps an index) in a Palm Database format file.

  2. Michael W. Perry // August 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm //

    So they’re an ordinary PDF wrapped with “some other data… in a Palm Database format file.” So how do we create such a file? Is their going to be a Kindle plug-in? If so, when? And how long before the more recent Kindles can read this new format? There aren’t that many people who want to haul their Mac or PC about and read on it. PDFs aren’t really the issue. I can read them fine on my Kindle. It’s just of matter of getting the page size right. This illustrates my hatred for how Amazon, Apple and the rest keep so many secrets from us. If Boeing built planes this way, we wouldn’t even know what their latest plane looked like until we showed up at the airport, ticket in hand.

  3. Nathan Campos // August 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm //

    I hope my Kindle DX(The white one) will support this new format…

  4. Michael W. Perry // August 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm //

    It’s actually quite easy to with PDF utilities to resize pages, keeping everything intact. If your device page size is 20% smaller, the utilities simply make everything on the page 20% smaller, including the fonts. That doesn’t work in every situation. But Kindle screens are so sharp, most book sizes (say 6×9) should stay quite readable on a Kindle 3’s smaller screen. It also helps if the PDF viewer is smart enough to cut out the white space on the edges of book pages. The Kindle store could also be smart enough to resize a PDF original to fit a user’s screen before it downloads so it fits our specific Kindle: creating a larger version for the Kindle DX and a smaller one of the Kindle 3. User’s could tell each other, “Its on the middle of page 201,” with the certainty that it’ll be there for everyone. That’d be especially good for textbooks and reading clubs. By the way, I have no problem reading even 8.5×11 pdfs on my Kindle 3. I simply put it into landscape mode. It takes 3 page clicks to read a full page, but other than that, it works fine. That is, with one exception that I’ve already brought up with Amazon. Kindles should be clever enough to remember the page orientation.a user has selected for a book and return to it the next time that book is opened. Like most of Amazon’s Kindle announcements, I’m delighted by this one. I’ve got a number of books that are too complex to be reduced to .mobi format. This should suit them perfectly when it becomes Kindle readable. Now if Amazon would only tell us how to create “Print Replica” books. –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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