will there be a standard e-book format?

Right now, my Valhalla books are Kindle-exclusive. I enrolled the first Valhalla volume in Kindle Select (or whatever it’s called) earlier in the year to try it out, and the reason it’s still there is mostly a matter of inertia. Rhythm is still available in Kindle and as .epub.

It’s true that I have had very few .epub sales?very few in comparison with Kindle sales, that is. I know that a lot of people?indies and trade alike?consider Amazon to be the “evil empire” of publishing, but you can’t ignore what they’ve done to shake up the industry (in both good and bad ways) and how they’ve given an avenue of exposure to many authors whose stories may not otherwise have been available to readers.

But am I the only one who looks at Kindle v. .epub and is reminded of the VHS v. Betamax wars of the 1980s?

Video cassette recorders were making huge inroads into American homes, and there were these two different formats available: VHS and Betamax. In many ways, Betamax was the superior format, but for various reasons (that I won’t go into here) consumers latched onto VHS instead. And that became the format of choice. Betamax didn’t completely go away; it was still the preferred format for video production for a good while. But as far as the consumer market was concerned, Betamax died a quiet death as VHS was adopted as the standard.

(Yes, kids, there were video playback devices prior to DVDs and online streaming.)

Personally, I like the portability of .epub. These books can be read on multiple e-reader platforms and so are much more “universal” than Kindle’s .mobi format. But Amazon has pushed its Kindle devices brilliantly. I don’t know what the numbers are nationwide or across the globe, but I can tell you that most of my friends and family who have e-readers have Kindles. (Or they have iPads, which can read both .mobi and .epub.)

I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I would imagine that if there will be a single ebook format that emerges, it may well be Kindle. Not because .mobi books are better or that the format is easier to work with. But simply because Amazon has made the Kindle nearly synonymous with “e-reader.”

What do you think about Kindle vs. .epub (Nook, Kobo, etc.)? Are your indie books available in both formats?

Posted in writing & publishing.

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