I've had multiple versions of the Amazon Kindle e-reader since the Kindle Keyboard I bought back in 2010, which is over a decade ago now in 2022, so I consider myself a bit of a Kindle expert.
And, while I love Amazon's e-reader device very much – I don't just read Kindle books; I've published some too – there's always been a key feature that Kindles haven't had.
As such, I'm delighted to see that after just twelve years of me moaning, the Kindle is finally getting the upgrade it should have had from the early days: ePub support.
That's because according to Good E-Reader later this year the Send to Kindle feature, which enables you to email ebooks, Word documents, PDFs and other files to read on your device or in the Kindle app, will finally support ePub. That's super important because ePub is the world's most popular ebook format; having an e-reader that doesn't support it is rather like having an MP3 player that doesn't play MP3s.
I suspect that Amazon isn't doing this out of the goodness of its corporate heart; I think it's more likely that Amazon no longer thinks other ebook stores are a threat to its Kindle business. Not supporting ePub was never a technological decision; it was a business one.
The Kindle update giveth, the Kindle update taketh away
Adding ePub support means the end of support for another format, .MOBI. If you have books in that format they'll still work, but you won't be able to use MOBI when you use Send To Kindle. But it also means you'll no longer have to convert a bunch of ebooks into MOBI if you're using a third party ebook app such as the excellent Calibre.
If you haven't used Send To Kindle before it's really worth experimenting with: it gives you a unique email address that you can then send stuff to for reading on your Kindle device, so for example if you download a big PDF or word document for work or save a long web page article as a PDF you can simply attach it as an email attachment and send it to your device. That means it's a great read-later service.
The update raises a few questions, though. Will the Kindle support ePub natively, or will it convert them? So far it looks like the latter: Good E-Reader notes that Amazon appears to be converting ePub files to the KF8 format, aka AZW3. That means writers and publishers hoping to use one less format for their uploads may be disappointed.
Amazon is currently migrating its modern Kindles to a new software platform, and this change appears to be part of that. It'll be interesting to see whether there will be new Kindle e-readers to accompany the new software: I really like the new warm white lighting in the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition and the latest Kindle Oasis, and it'd be nice to see that in other versions of the device. Given that Amazon is starting to run Kindle deals that make the Kindle cheaper than it's ever been, that could mean new hardware is on the horizon.