With its Android-powered, full-color Kindle Fire tablet just around the corner, Amazon has announced a new e-book format to take advantage of its richer features. The new file format, Kindle Format 8 (KF8), is based on HTML5, and with it, Amazon aims to bring some of the flexibility and power that HTML5 offers to the world of e-books.
HTML-based e-book formats are not new; EPUB, Mobipocket, and the current Kindle format (a variant of Mobipocket) are all based on subsets of HTML. However, the existing formats are very limited, offering publishers little control over fonts, layout, and text formatting. This makes them ill-suited to, for example, children's books, comics, and technical publications. Formats like PDF offer much richer control over presentation, but forfeit the ability to reflow text to adjust to different screen and font sizes, essential to a true e-book format.
KF8 bridges that gap. HTML5 features such as CSS3 formatting, nested tables, SVG graphics, embedded fonts, and borders are all now supported. The new format includes much richer layout options, including fixed layouts—essential for accurate reproduction of many children's books—and panel-based layouts for comic books. Books can include sidebars and callouts, text overlaid on background images, boxes, drop caps, and more.
The KF8 publishing tool, KindleGen 2, will be "available soon," as will a previewing tool, Kindle Previewer 2.
The Kindle Fire will be the first Kindle to support the new format, and support will be rolled out to the latest generation e-ink Kindles and Kindle applications "in coming months."