All posts tagged ‘kindle’

File Under: CSS, HTML5

Amazon Embraces HTML5 for New E-Book Format

The new Kindle Format 8 uses HTML5 and CSS for better looking books and graphic novels

Amazon’s new full-color Kindle Fire tablet will arrive next month and with it will come a new e-book format that uses web standards to take advantage of the Fire’s new and improved features.

The new format, Kindle Format 8 (KF8), uses HTML5, CSS 3 formatting rules, embedded custom fonts and SVG graphics to create a richer toolset for book designers. It also means that if you can build a website, you can build a book.

KF8 isn’t the first e-book format to use HTML under the hood. Both EPUB and Mobi — the current Kindle format — are both built on HTML, but KF8 will be the first to embrace nearly all of HTML5 and its associated tools like CSS 3 and SVG.

With KF8 e-book designers can use the same tools web designers have long relied on to handle richer layout options like sidebars, pull quotes, callouts and other common print design elements that don’t translate well to the limited options of current e-book formats. The new tools will be particularly useful for creating better visuals in children’s e-books and graphic novels.

Interestingly, by making it possible to create e-books using the same tools you’d use to create a website, Amazon may be inadvertently making the web the new home of e-books. So far Amazon hasn’t released many specifics surrounding its KF8 format, but if KF8 is essentially a wrapper around HTML5 and CSS 3 then presumably it won’t be too hard to strip away that wrapper. What would be left behind will likely be a “e-book” that’s really just a single page of HTML and CSS — perfect for the web.

When browsers begin to support tools like the proposed Generated Content for Paged Media specification, it will likely be just as easy to markup and release the raw HTML version of an e-book — and let the browser paginate and format it — as it is to put it in Amazon’s storefront where the Kindle can paginate and format it.

Whether or not such an easy dual publishing route is actually possible will be clearer when Amazon releases its updated Kindle Publisher Tools. Amazon hasn’t set a date yet, but you can sign up to be notified when the new tools are available.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire will be the first Kindle to support the new KF8 format, but according to Amazon support for KF8 in the new e-ink Kindles and the various Kindle apps will be added “in coming months.”

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File Under: Browsers

Amazon Is Building a Better Browser for Kindle

Browsing the web on one of Amazon’s Kindle e-readers is like taking a step backwards in time. It’s clunky and has only limited support for web standards, and bare-bones JavaScript capabilities.

But now Amazon may be looking to add browser engineers to the Kindle team, according to the job listings on the company’s website.

A job posting for a browser engineer at Lab126, the division of Amazon that develops the Kindle, indicates the company is looking for somebody to develop “an innovative embedded web browser” for a consumer product.

The role at Lab126 includes designing new features for a new browser while supporting the existing code. Job requirements include familiarity with current web standards and web rendering engines, as well as experience with Java and embedded Linux, both of which the Kindle runs.

The Kindle’s current browsing experience is notably subpar. It’s good enough to check your e-mail, post to Twitter or read Wikipedia, but it doesn’t handle images or more complex web apps particularly well. It certainly doesn’t live up to the same vision of the mobile web being outlined by the iPhone, or Android phones like the Droid or Nexus One. And with the coming of the Apple iPad and other threats to Amazon’s dominant e-reader, which should behave on the web about as well as (if not better than) the iPhone, the Kindle had better improve its browser if the device is going to continue to compete with these more capable devices.

Amazon recently launched a beta program for third-party app developers who want to build software for the Kindle.

Apparently, the job listing has been up for a month, but I only became aware of it once CNET’s Stephen Shankland tweeted about it.

Calls to Lab126 and Amazon on Monday morning went unreturned. I’ll update this post if and when I get more information from Amazon or anyone else.

Meanwhile, if you have any advice about improving the Kindle’s browsing mojo, leave it in the comments.

Photo: Charlie Sorrel/