Amazon Kindles will soon support ePub file format via Send to Kindle

This weekend, a report of Good reader seemed to suggest something really wild. After 15 years, Amazon would finally bend to the competition and support the ePub ebook format used by the vast majority of online bookstores, publishers and competing services. But it turns out that Amazon won’t natively support the ePub format. Instead, by updated Send to Kindle documentationAmazon’s Kindle will soon support using the Send to Kindle feature to convert ePub files to an Amazon-specific e-book file format.

We were so close! And it’s crazy because we’ve been so close, and also so far, since the launch of the Kindle and the ePub file format in 2007. Sony, Barnes & Noble and other e-reader makers have been quick to support ePub, the main technical standard of the International Digital Publishing Forum. Amazon has chosen to support other file formats, including .Mobi, which it acquired with French company Mobipocket in 2005, and .AZW, which is essentially an Amazon-branded version of .Mobi.

What this means in practice is that, for 15 years, if you wanted to put an ePub file on your Kindle e-reader, you first had to convert it, usually using the very powerful but very frustrating and ugly Caliber software. It was a good workflow, but it has felt increasingly boring over the past few years.

Publishers are now selling ebooks directly to consumers more regularly, often for less than Amazon, Rakuten or Barnes & Noble might charge. Smaller publishers have even made it a selling point – because authors sometimes get a bigger share of a direct sale from the publisher than from a larger digital bookseller, so you can better “support” a favorite author by buying directly from the publisher. But where you can get those ebook files fairly quickly on an eReader from Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Pocketbook, or any of the many eReaders coming out of China right now, you still had to stop and do the Caliber step if you wanted the same book on a Kindle.

Now it will be a little easier to get an ePub on a Kindle. Amazon will allow you to send ePub files to your Kindle via the Send to Kindle feature, and it should then convert the ePub to a KF8 file. Which, although technically an ePub is not really an ePub as it is only supported by Kindles.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like Amazon is putting up a big Amazon-branded glass wall between me and the content so I never forget the Amazon of the e-reading experience . This is one of the many reasons why I am in love with Android E Ink tablets. I can just put the ePub on the shelf without jumping through Amazon branding hoops to do so.