May 192011

It is almost exactly one month since Amazon announced that it is joining forces with OverDrive the eBook lending service provider to enable Kindle customers  to  borrow  eBooks from  their  local  libraries. To date, this has been impossible as the Kindle does not support ePub, the format commonly used in OverDrive’s eBook collection.

While waiting for further details, there has been much discussion on exactly how this would be achieved.

  1. The first possibility for providing ePub material on the Kindle would be to first roll out and update of the Kindle firmware to allow it to read ePub format, as was done in 2010 with the PDF format. This would also require the OverDrive’s DRM software to be ported to the Kindle.
  2. Or would there be a conversion-service that would convert the ePub book to Amazon Kindle format (AZW), using the the Amazon DRM with an eBook expiry time, in similar fashion to the Amazon eBook lending function.
  3. A third possibility is for publishers to provide a Kindle formatted version in addition to the ePub version.

Well the latest rumors circulating the industry are that four unnamed publishing companies have suggested that the Kindle will be upgraded to read the ePub format because Amazon have said that they will now accept ePub format from the publishers.

Well, this still leaves the second method in our list of options as a candidate. Considering the complexity of putting a new DRM on the Kindle, we believe that this is the most likely arrangement to be implemented.

The second method, whereby no firmware upgrade is needed on the Kindle, also has a further advantage although only for Amazon. It gives Amazon a strategic position to act as the gateway, controlling which ePub books are allowed to be converted and sent to the Kindle. This allows Amazon to continue to promote the Kindle, the Kindle app, and the Kindle eBook format.

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