Your ePub eInk Device Will Be Obsolete Soon

This is what every owner of a Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo Reader does not want to hear:

@MatthewDiener @lizcastro @crych next epub spec is going to raise the bar, substantially. it will rest on implementers to deliver.Fri Jul 23 13:28:43 via Twitter for iPhone

@MatthewDiener @lizcastro @crych the spec, and proofs/demos will become public before end of year.Fri Jul 23 13:36:07 via Twitter for iPhone

Note these words:

it will rest on implementers to deliver.

That means there will have to be either firmware upgrades or entirely new devices.

My bet is that this will mean entirely new devices.

ePub has ambitions to incorporate all sorts of neat things like embedded audio and video — the kind of things already possible in digital books like Vook.

Now tell me if your Sony Reader, Nook, or Kobo Reader’s eInk display can do video.

It cannot.

OK, you argue, you don’t want audio or video in a damned book.

Fair enough.

But there will still need to be a firmware upgrade for other features the IDPF’s ePub Steering Committee has planned. Such as changes to Table of Contents and Index, and the like.

Sony has been down this road before, when it had to admit its original model of the Sony Reader could not accept the firmware upgrade to handle ePub.

How many current eInk devices will be able to handle a firmware upgrade for whatever non-multimedia ePub enhancements are coming down the road?

As if that pain wasn’t bad enough, we come to that monster Adobe.

It’s Adobe that creates the ePub rendering engine for those devices.

Which is why ePub looks like crap.

How long will it be between the time this new ePub spec is finalized and Adobe kicks out its new, improved rendering engine?

Let’s say Adobe jumps right on it and kicks it out quickly. Can the new rendering engine even fit in the Flash ROM of your device? Android owners got a rude awakening when they were told their older phones didn’t have large enough chips for OS upgrades. Does your eInk device have enough space?

Meanwhile, will Amazon sit still? Amazon has already previewed multimedia in Kindle format books. This, along with other things I’ve seen, indicates to me that a “Kindle Pad” is coming. I don’t think that will happen this year, but it might early next year.

Maybe Apple won’t sit still, either. It has created its own ePub rendering engine for iOS. It could probably implement the new ePub spec faster than anyone else. The iBookstore might be selling advanced ePubs not available anywhere else — because everyone else has to wait for Adobe’s engine.

So, if you’ve been sitting there contemplating further investments into either an ePub eInk device or ePub eBooks, it’s time to start thinking if that’s the wisest use of your time and money.

Let me repeat: Kindle won. Get over it.

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