Standards & Amazon
Today’s DBW roundtable discussed standards – more specifically, a bunch of acronyms I need to begin to memorize, including ISTC, ISNI, NISO, IDPF, BISG, and GS1. (My head is spinning.)
An interesting point that I asked and had wonderfully answered by Todd Carpenter of NISO dealt with Amazon’s proprietary standard for its e-reader (.AZW) and how that would influence EPUB3’s development and use. Carpenter responded, essentially, that the value of EPUB stems from its ability to be used in different distribution channels. This in itself is valuable to publishers – you reach more devices through those channels, and in turn, contact larger audiences. Laura Dawson of Firebrand Technologies asserted that Amazon moving to accept EPUB on its devices is not happening anytime soon; Joshua Tallent agrees.
And why would it? This question boggled me because yes, Amazon is doing well without reading EPUB, and conversions from EPUB to .mobi/.azw can still happen through KindleGen. While I in general don’t particularly want a Kindle and don’t see myself using one in the future, the fact that it still doesn’t read EPUB bothers me. It bothers a lot of people because Amazon is ignoring a standard. But should we fault Amazon for ignoring what’s becoming considered a universal standard (as I see it) and creating their own?
This move bothers me as a reader (if I were a Kindle user) because I potentially have fewer options. I am limited to what’s available in the Amazon Marketplace unless I take to converting titles myself.
This move also bothers me as someone looking to become involved in ebook production because, hey, it means more work for me – work that is essentially unnecessary. But I suppose you can argue that work is still going to be there because, lo and behold, every e-reader renders an EPUB file in their own way.
Even though there are more people using the Kindle than other readers, I still think EPUB has the edge. Though the question that still lingers in my head is, who really wants EPUB? I am guessing this audience is somewhat limited (among average readers); I doubt the average Kindle user knows what EPUB even is. Though I could be wrong on both counts!