Will ePub be the Death of the Kindle?

One of the recent major developments in the eReader market is Sony’s announcement that they will be fully adopting the ePub standard.  Sony plans to completely abandon their own, proprietary format in what seems to be a concerted effort to dethrone the Kindle.  Selling books in ePub won’t necessarily help the Sony Reader, but it will open the store to owners of, say, the COOL-ER Reader.  Likewise, Sony Reader owners would realize that other ePub stores, such as Google Books, would be just as compatible with their device.

Some analysts think that this is the best way to pull Amazon from the top of the eReader market.  If the market is filled with similar devices that all buy materials from the same, varied selection of online stores, Amazon stands out as the only company with such tight restrictions.  There won’t necessarily be another device that leads the market in the way the Kindle has, but other companies will be free to compete without automatically riding Amazon’s coattails.  Past controversies surrounding the Kindle would make it seem even more unfavorable compared to the less restrictive ePub readers.

If widespread adaption of ePub does kill the Kindle, it would lead to an interesting eBook market.  Consumers would all pick a device based off of personal preference/budget.  After that, shopping for a book would be like the digital equivalent of today’s brick and mortar stores.  If you want a specific book, you would shop around between various large and independent bookstores.

Of course, the Kindle wouldn’t really be killed.  Amazon would simply make it another ePub reader.  It could be killed, however, in the sense that it would no longer have the distinction that sets it apart from other readers.

Let’s have a small poll about Kindle DRM restrictions. Feel free to respond in the comments as well.

8 thoughts on “Will ePub be the Death of the Kindle?”

  1. all this move does is give Adobe power and make all the adopters of their proprietary format dependent on them. this isn’t going to hurt amazon a bit nor force them to change, and I believe the Sony move was merely an attempt for them to reduce their costs in running their ebook store.

  2. You missed something in your poll. One of the things that bothers me is they’re not really my books, since I can’t share them with a friend.

  3. I don’t have problems using books purchased form other sites on my kindle. what sorts of problems are other people having?

    even if .epub becomes _the_ standard document format, there’s nothing at all that would prevent amazon from making the kindle able to read it (either nativly, or through their converter program)

    there are already free converter programs that do this conversion, and I believe that savory will even do the conversion on the kindle.

    I would love for the e-book market to consolodate around one format, as long as it is a open format (no royalties to use the format so that opensource tools can legally use it), but I also don’t have much trouble with there being multiple formats and conversion programs between them

  4. I agree with David Lang. I don’t really have difficulty reading books from other vendor sites either. Further, if epub is really a threat to the Kindle, Amazon will simply release a flash update that enables the format. After all, the Kindle is simply a linux box and Amazon released a few updates already. To Rick (and trust me…I’m not defending DRM in any way shape or form): legally you are not supposed to be doing that anyway according to the publishers and Authors Guild. I would agree that such legalese is BS, it is none-the-less the BS that the copyright holders are pressing in the courts right now.

    Reasons that there are no threats to the Kindle right now include: nobody else is (at least in the techno mainstream) offering a reader with a passable compact keyboard for we scholars and business-people who take plentiful notes in our reading. Kindle keyboards aren’t great, but they beat touchscreen keyboards for taking copious notes. Also, nobody else besides Amazon is offering free wireless multi-device backup and sync of documents, notes, and bookmarks. I have a Kindle 2, a DX, and Kindle apps on both of my i-devices. It’s cool having access to my important stuff when I need it and always being able to pick up reading where I left off, no matter the device I’m currently looking at. None of the upcoming “threat” markets are even planning to offer that level of service, at least yet. As for Amazon having access…take your devices off-line and back up your purchases and notes manually. It’s not that difficult. I don’t see the upcoming iPad (theoretically) a threat to any reader market because backlit color LCD screens cause eye-strain during long-term reading and they can’t be read in direct sunlight.

  5. I agree with Rick that the poll is missing some options… how about I don’t like DRM because I don’t own the materials I buy (I’m only renting them from the company that has sold me the book). If the seller goes away, phases out their service, or whatever I’m left with nothing.

  6. Well, this poll focuses on how lack of support of open but still DRMed format affects Kindle users.
    In general though, I’ve heard similar arguments a lot but personally I don’t buy them. Kindle users can make backup copies of their DRMed content however they like. In the unlikely case of Amazon going out of business, the content in question can still be used as long the device for which it was purchased functions. The device is perishable – true, but so are paper books.
    If your paper book is damaged, lost or destroyed you don’t expect the book store to replace it, right?

  7. I consider Kindle as a e-book reading device, but it seems that Amazon use it as a e-book shopping device from Amazon only.

    EPUB format books from public libraries can’t be read in Kindle!!!

    Amazon should let the user know that fact before they buy a Kindle 2.

  8. True ePub, that is not the bastardized version with Adobe DRM, can easily be read on the Kindle. Just use one of the many converter programs to change it to Mobi. I use Calibre but there are others. Library loans are encumbered with their own DRM so that they automatically expire after 3 or 1 week. I cannot use those on my Kindle or on my Mac, so I don’t bother to check their catalog. Libraries are late to this game, so I think things will improve. In the meantime I have a backlog of books so large that I really don’t need the library at this point. I am discovering all sorts of new authors that I would not have known about otherwise. Most of my e-books are in non-drm prc format.

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