News flash: you can now view an ePub directly on your Kindle. No more side-loading. No more tears.
Not a flash, really. Amazon was actually very quiet about this big announcement. How big is it? Big. Big like solving global warming, curing cancer, saving whales big.
You’d think so if you’re an independent author and you want to test-view your new eBook on a Kindle. We deliver a custom-designed Kindle to a customer and they’d ask, “How do I view it on my Kindle?” We’d smile pretty and shrug.
You can’t just open your Kindle book and have a look. Amazon made you upload it to their sales platform, then buy it from yourself to get the eBook to load on your Kindle. There was a trick called side-loading, where you’d hack into the device directly, but it was a buggy process, and the result was not a good representation of what others might see.
The ePub format is open-source, which means nobody owns the code. Anybody can make an ePub, and they’re relatively easy to edit and customize. The supporting structure is robust, so ePubs look really great. A well-designed ePub eBook can look very much like its print edition.
Kindles, since the beginning, insisted on using their proprietary MOBI format. It was klunky. Hard to work with. Not editable — if you needed even a small change, you had to recreate the whole eBook. Ironic, the best way to make a MOBI/Kindle eBook was to convert an ePub version. Amazon provided free double-secret software that magically dumbed-down the ePub into MOBI.
About six months ago, something remarkable happened. Instead of demanding that authors upload books in MOBI format, Amazon suddenly forbid it. They quietly started accepting the ePub format only. This is great because authors now only need one format for everybody. Books in the ePub format almost always look much better, and they’re easier to work with. A win for everybody.
A win for book designers, for sure. Before, we’d create a print book design, then make the more robust ePub edition to match, and then had to modify/simplify it to account for all the shortcomings of MOBI. Now we can make one glorious eBook for everybody, and it looks its best wherever you view it: Kindle, Apple’s Books, Nook, wherever.
It gets better: we just learned that if you email an ePub to yourself (using your Kindle address, at least), you can open your ePub directly on a Kindle and view it. This lets people share books they’ve created themselves. For authors, it greatly simplifies the proofing process.
We’re great fans of how Amazon-KDP has simplified the printing process and made it accessible to mere mortals. It’s easy and affordable to create a print book, something that used to be unavailable to the unsigned author. So we congratulate them for making the eBook process just as easy. Now get to it, authors!