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Why Kindle Should Be An Open Book

Jul 06, 2009, 22:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tim O'Reilly)

"So it was with a feeling of deja vu that I listened in mid-2007 to the promises of Amazon about the potential of its new proprietary e-book platform. While no payment is required to participate, there are clearly onerous restrictions that could limit the growth of the market: a proprietary file format, and the requirement that the e-books only be sold by Amazon.com.

"The file format was a problem for us from the get-go: Amazon's Kindle file format doesn't provide support for tables or for so-called monospaced fonts, two formatting features that we use heavily in our line of technical books. And there is a viable alternative: Epub, the open format from the International Digital Publishing Forum, is based on the Web's native format, HTML, and provides full table and font support. This is the first "strategy tax" paid by those who embrace proprietary platforms: They can't support the needs of every niche and must prioritize their support for mainstream needs."

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