DC's Kindle Problem

Watchmenkindle 200x200 DC's Kindle ProblemWe all know DC signed a deal to give Amazon digital exclusivity to 100 graphic novels (and it kind of blew up in their face).  You were probably thinking that you could read one of those DC digital graphic novels, like Watchmen, on any device that runs a Kindle app.  (Bleeding Cool has a tweet of Warner Bros. saying just that.)

It turns out, this is not the case.  As DC’s Hank Kanalz says, “You can’t do that today but that’s the intention going forward. Like other other Amazon digital editions, readers will be able to read their graphic novels on any device.”

What does this really mean?  It’s all about a software update.  Amazon has a proprietary format for their eBooks called MOBI (as opposed to ePUB, which is the open source, i.e. non-licensed, format).  Amazon added some new controls to MOBI to allow for comics navigation.  It sounds like the Kindle apps haven’t been updated to read files with those new controls in them.  Whether this is a deliberate attempt to force people with an interest in comics into a Kindle Fire and off an iPad or is just a blown deadline on the software side is a matter for speculation.  I’d put this one on Amazon, not DC.

I do find it interesting to go to the page for the Kindle edition of Watchmen and see the disclaimer language:

“Available only on Kindle Fire
Optimized for larger screens
Text-to-Speech: Not enabled”

Amazon seems aware enough this isn’t portable to put a disclaimer on it.  More interesting is saying that Watchmen is “optimized for larger screens.”  What does that mean?

According to Amazon, “This title has complex layouts and has been optimized for reading on devices with larger screens.”  Of course, Amazon doesn’t tell you what their definition of a larger screen is.  Does the Kindle Fire count as a larger screen?  It’s larger than, say, an iPad touch.  Oh, wait.  This only works on the Kindle Fire.

Which also goes into reviews like this:

TUAW:”Oh, and about that Watchchmen book, which is available exclusively on the Kindle Fire? It’s unreadable.  There’s far too much whitespace around the actual page (a side effect of its shape?) which makes the page itself too small to comfortably read, at least for my 38 year-old eyes. I had expected there would be some sort of special feature or reason why it was only available on the Kindle Fire, but if there is, I can’t figure out what. As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no reason why Watchmen isn’t available for Kindle on the iPad, where it might actually be readable.”

Granted, 9 panels grids aren’t intended for small screens.

The software update should eventually come around, but the question of what’s holding it up certainly is an interesting one.

Comments

  1. Charles Knight says:

    “Whether this is a deliberate attempt to force people with an interest in comics into a Kindle Fire and off an iPad or is just a blown deadline on the software side is a matter for speculation. I’d put this one on Amazon, not DC.”

    I don’t think it’s a blown deadline, simply that amazon want to collect information about how KF8 (Kindle format 8 – their new version of mobi) works before pushing it out to app. As far as I can tell looking at Amazon’s documentation on this, they have never made the promise that this would be available *straight away* – that claim only seems to come from DC.

  2. Isn’t there meant to be some kind of ComiXology copying panel-by-panel view as well? That’s the only way comics will work well on anything smaller than an iPad screen anyway.

  3. IMO this has been one big bag of bad PR. This whole deal seemed poorly thought out & poorly managed. Really, what benefit has DC reaped from all this?

  4. john layman says:

    Hopefully DC will solve all these problems in time for Watchman 2!

  5. Swampy says:

    “Really, what benefit has DC reaped from all this?”

    Well, they made the 1st move and have now established a relationship with Amazon. That’s a BIG benefit.

    This info-graphic might help explain that benefit.
    http://frugaldad.com/2011/11/15/amazon-infographic/

  6. If you double tap the screen, you will get a zoomed in panel view that you navigate just like you usually do. Took me a while to figure it out, and its clunky

  7. “and it kind of blew up in their face”

    Really, Todd?

    Getting one of the largest companies in the world to provide them with free advertising is considered blowing up in their face?

    This deal with Amazon is one of the smartest things DC has ever done. They’ve just opened up their product to a much larger population than they could have even dreamed of.

  8. SvenJ says:

    I like how the story is titled “DC’s Kindle Problem” when the only evidence cited is one review on Amazon.

    Todd, just wait for the NBA to come back and calm down, ok?

  9. “Oh, and about that Watchchmen book, which is available exclusively on the Kindle Fire? It’s unreadable.”

    I got my Kindle Fire today and Watchmen was one of the first things I downloaded on it. It’s perfectly readable, I don’t know why one would think otherwise unless they’re legally blind.

  10. kindle lover says:

    My wife and I love our new Kindle Fire. It’s lightweight, easy to use and has a great interface. The first thing I recommend anyone with a new Kindle do is install the nook app. We got our instructions from http://www.kindlemad.com through google.

    It basically unlocks all the Android marketplace apps and unlocks the device. I am one very happy Kindle owner!

Speak Your Mind

*