A quick check with a hex editor revealed that the Kindle .AZW format contains the magic number “BOOKMOBI,” which led me to this set if free eBooks in Mobi format. Sure enough, when copied to an SD card, MOBI files come right up in the Kindle Homepage.
Here is a free-as-in-beer toolchain for creating MOBI files: http://www.mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/ProductDetailsCreator.asp
So the idea that the Kindle is a proprietary format, while technically true, is overstating the case. Any publisher can trivially create a Kindle-compatible eBook, at least if they already target at least one other digital format.
This gives me significantly greater hope for the future of the device.
I challenged Tim O’Reilly, who said “I’m rooting for Jeff and the Kindle,” on the subject of O’Reilly’s lack of support for the Kindle:
Why no O’Reilly books on the kindle? Well, Amazon has chosen to use a proprietary format, with a conversion cost of a couple of hundred dollars per title to that format….[C]onversion to every new format adds complexity…. [T]his very problem that led us to develop the Docbook DTD in the late 80’s….
So I’m rooting for the kindle to take off at a level that would justify that investment in conversion, or for Amazon to open up the platform to read more formats that we already support, like HTML and PDF.
Now, I understand that PDF is a sub-optimal experience with respect to reflow. But we’re hopeful that there will be a standard, multi-vendor format for that, so that we only have to support one more format, rather than dozens of competing ones.
Of course, we may run some experiments on the kindle, and if it takes off, we will certainly support it, as their format will become a de facto standard.
We’d also love to experiment with models in which people who are Safari subscribers could access that content on the kindle. We’d be very eager to have a reseller relationship with Amazon, such that they resell safari subscriptions on the kindle.
[O’Reilly’s complete post]
Very reasonable and certainly the Safari comment sounds like a business and not technical issue.