Amazon made a new feature announcement on the Kindle Blog last month:
First, we are making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on our free Kindle apps, so you can always read Kindle periodicals even if you don’t have your Kindle with you or don’t yet own a Kindle. In the coming weeks, many newspapers and magazines will be available on our Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and then we’ll be adding this functionality to Kindle for Android and our other apps down the road. Our vision is Buy Once, Read Everywhere, and we’re excited to make this possible for Kindle periodicals in the same way that it works now for Kindle books. More details when we launch this in the coming weeks.
Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.
The periodicals part will be nice, I’m sure, for those who participate. So far I haven’t been able to justify purchasing the same content I can just as easily get on my PC, laptop or Android smartphone via RSS feeds, however. But that’s me.
The second feature of ebook lending, however, will be extremely popular — depending on which books the publishers allow to be lent. I can already imagine having my Goodreads friends lending one another our favorite ebooks. While the program is technically fully described in the announcement, I’ve already seen confusion on the matter. It’s possible even I’m confused, but what I’ve seen in the Amazon forums, etc. is: one ebook can only be lent once, ever. Not once to every friend, but once for that ebook. During the 14-day lending period the owner is unable to read that book.
The new lending feature will certainly take Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader down a notch, but the Kindle still lacks the Nook’s biggest and most popular feature of all (aside from supporting the superior EPUB standard *cough* ) : checking out ebooks from local libraries. Participating public libraries typically utilize OverDrive, which uses Adobe’s Adept DRM scheme, to let members check out EPUB ebooks. While OverDrive could handle the conversions when necessary to support Kindle ebooks, I am not foreseeing Amazon partnering with them when Amazon’s primary goal with the Kindle platform is to drive more sales from Amazon. It’s a shame Amazon won’t just add EPUB reading to their platform, considering their Kindlegen (and Kindle Previewer) ebook creation software will read EPUB and convert it (quality varies, however) into a MOBI ebook the Kindle does support.
Speaking of converting formats, I’ve also seen mention over the past several months of Amazon sending emails to authors submitting to Amazon’s Digital Text Platform complaining over the usage of the open source software Calibre to handle the conversions.
Thank you for publishing your titles on the Kindle Store through Amazon DTP. During a review of your titles, we noticed that you used Calibre to create Mobi books. Please note that if you use Calibre to create Mobi books, they may not be supported if we add features to the Mobi format. Therefore, we suggest that you use applications like KindleGen or Mobipocket Creator instead.
KindleGen is a command-line tool used to build eBooks. This tool is best for publishers and individuals who are familiar with HTML and want to convert their HTML, XHTML, XML (OPF/IDPF format), or ePub source into a Kindle Book. Please click the following link to download this application along with the User Instructions:
You can also find more information and instructions for using the KindleGen in our Kindle Publishing Guidelines document. Please click the below link to download the same:
However, if you would want an application with an active User Interface, you can use Mobipocket Creator. The Mobipocket Creator allows publishers to create ebooks with an easy-to-use content authoring tool. This software also includes Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word & Text File Import wizards. You would also be able to design an active Table of Contents and a personalized cover image for your titles.
Please click on the link below to download the Mobipocket Creator application:
Please note, KindleGen does not support DRM. If you want to apply DRM to your books, you can do that through the DTP web site.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whoah! Now, I’ll be the first to say that I don’t like Calibre going in and altering my markup and ignoring my CSS in favor of its own, but I’m the only one who notices it since I’m looking at the source. But Calibre also (usually) provides a better quality conversion than Kindlegen. It’s interesting that Amazon is cracking down on the usage of third-party software used in any capacity to create a MOBI ebook (Amazon owns MobiPocket).
Ebooks created in Calibre “may not be supported if we add features to the Mobi format?” The Mobi format hasn’t changed in 15 years! The Kindle has a very slightly different DRM scheme than Mobi, and the Kindle added NCX navigation, but neither of those are changes to the Mobi format itself.
This is the problem with creating a walled garden like Amazon has done. You can’t bring in new flowers because of the surrounding walls.