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Kindle vs Apple: Who will write the book on ebooks?

We are working with a client to develop an animated children’s book and I wanted to share what we found about publishing an ebook and how that technology is developing. If you haven’t been keeping score, Amazon and its platform has around 50-60% of the market share, Barnes and Noble and its Nook, around 25%, leaving Apple to roughly 20% of the market share. If you are looking into creating an ebook, lets go over how the platforms differ from each other.

While the Amazon Kindle has been dominating the ebook market, its formatting languages: AZW and the newer KF8 are proprietary and only allow for limited backwards compatibility. AZW was originally intended to process text, plain and simple. Don’t expect fancy graphics with custom buttons in AZW. Many complaints we came across were about the way uploaded images and diagrams appear on Kindle. That said, With a collective library of an estimated 130,000,000 published books to potentially digitize, AZW’s primary job was to make pdf versions of published authors existing works instantly accessible throughout Amazon’s Kindle environment. Text is clearly presented and even sizable through a number of fonts via the Kindle. KF8 has recently been introduced to bridge the gap between AZW and the more generally accepted, ePUB.

ePub is the most widely accepted ebook format. In fact, the only e-reader that does not support ePub is the Kindle. Aside from being widely accepted, it utilizes familiar CSS stylings, allowing for design elements to be pulled from existing files, websites, etc. This allows for enhanced graphics and other features such as audio and video files to be embedded within the text which automatically wraps to fit various mobile screen sizes.

Ultimately, ebooks started out as the digital representation of “real” books. They are good at recreating the experience of page turning without paper cuts. Choosing which platform is right for your ebook should be made based on what you want to accomplish. Have a 20 chapter mystery novel already fleshed out on a thumb drive? Maybe Amazon and its built in crowd of insatiable readers are for you but if you are incorporating a lot of diagrams and images, you may have an easier time with ePub and their widely distributed platform. After an initial rush to digitize the existing list of published books, a new generation of authors will be hard at work revolutionizing what can be done with the written word.

paul webb




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