Amazon Announces Kindle Format 8

Amazon has announced the replacement for its existing Kindle (Mobi) format; the list of supported HTML and CSS tags is here. You can also sign up to be notified when the publishing tools and guidelines are released.

Plainly, Amazon is moving toward something that’s much closer to ePub, which lends further credence to the idea that the reason for the “Kindle Bloat” I discussed in a previous post, is that new generations of Kindle software and tools will make use of the ePub information that’s incorporated into the Kindle (Mobi) files.

What about the effect on creating ebook files that are portable between ePub and Kindle? On the face if it, the closer that Amazon gets to supporting the same features as ePub does, the easier the portability job should be — and the fewer compromises ebook designers will need to make, when creating content that will work on both platforms.

However, a possible fly in the ointment is the position of older Kindle devices, which apparently are not going to be upgraded with the new Kindle 8 capabilities…

“Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 – in the coming months we will roll out KF8 to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps.”

… which begs the question of the fate of previous-generation devices that aren’t in line for the upgrade (I guess because they are not capable enough). Will the Kindle 8 standard have the option to embed an old-fashioned Mobi file, for these older devices to use? If so, designers may still have the opportunity (and the headaches it will doubtless take!) to create ebooks that can adapt to the oldest Kindle devices — though clearly there comes a point with complex layouts that this must become impossible or impractical due to diminishing returns, and previous-generation Kindles must be left behind.

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