Kindle and eBook Formats

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 09: founder an...
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I must admid it, i want a Kindle 2.  I like the thought of having all my books in one nice little electronic device.  I like the thought of downloading and saving and storing all the things i want to read.  I’m intrigued.

This is why i was interested in this article in Forbes from Tim O’Reilly about formats.  He talks about the importance of supporting an open format in the success of a product.  For instance, the iTunes/iPod ecosystem is a popular platform and even though it has it’s own proprietary AAC format, it also supports the mp3 – an format that anyone can encode into.  Supporting both allows the iPod to take advantage of both customers and the web at large.

O’Reilly argues that Amazon should do the same with the Kindle.  The fact that it supports only it’s own eBook format will lead to its demise in the same way that Microsoft and AOL’s support for their own formats led to theirs.  The O’Reilly camp is only supporting the open e-book platform and they have seen it have success:

But we can already see the momentum on the open e-book platform. Stanza, the epub-based e-book reader for the iPhone and other Web-capable phones. Lexcycle, the creator of Stanza, announced recently that its software has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times, and that more than 5 million e-books have been downloaded.

While The Kindle is the slickest of eReaders and the most popular with 500,000 – 700,000 sold, the game is far from over.  The Sony Reader which also uses e-Ink has sold around 300,000.  Should Amazon remain closed, it could very well miss out on a huge opportunity, or as O’Reilly says: “Open allows experimentation. Open encourages competition. Open wins. Amazon needs to get with the program”

Of course, another way to look at this is:  AOL was about to build a $150 billion company by making it easy for people to get web information and only after the web matured did they fall.  Perhaps The Kindle will be the first out of the gate and will take the early lead because of the streamlined format and operation of it’s service.  Personlly, while i understand the need to be open, i’m still willing to check out The Kindle.

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7 thoughts on “Kindle and eBook Formats
  1. You’re right in that AAC is not proprietary, but when you apply Apple’s FairPlay to it it becomes locked down. So, when i say “Apple’s AAC” what i mean is AAC+Fairplay

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