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I provide e-ink kindles to schools in Kenya (10 schools so far) where we also help the schools acquire relevant ebooks for teaching the pupils based on curriculum topics. We'd like to develop apps for the teachers to use on their e-ink kindles however there seems to be little information on how to do so.

Please can you suggest what skills are needed to develop these apps and good approaches to learn them? And any recommendations on useful resources (paid-for and free) would also be helpful.

  • PS: I discovered the registration fails as follows if I prefix my company's web site URL with www. , and the amazon registration process seems broken kdk.amazon.com/gp/vendor/kindlepubs/kdk/…*Version*=1&*entries*=0 results in an HTTP 500 error when I tried to register kdk.amazon.com/gp/vendor/kindlepubs/kdk/… Internal Server Error The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request... – JulianHarty Dec 20 '13 at 10:13
  • Not to mention that it's been in "limited beta" for the last two years or so... – Nathan Osman Dec 20 '13 at 19:28
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    Probably an "eink optimized" (i.e. no hover popups, animations, color coding) web app that can be used via the browser is a more viable way. – his Jan 24 '14 at 22:17
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Learning to develop apps for eBook readers is very practical:

The reason being, the same technology that applies to creating ebooks; also applies to developing websites, software, etc.

Meaning that the skills you learn from developing apps for eBook readers improves your overall skills as a Web or App Developer in general.

These skills in turn can allow you to start developing more complex skills for becoming a Programmer, Software or Application Developer.

Now that we know the type of jobs related and the career path that follows, we can look at the skills and technology required and used by those in the related industry; to learn how to do the same development.

Basic Skills Required by Web and App Developers:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. Javascript

An ePub is a zipped up package of content, containing items such as the above, for the purpose of creating the ePub Book/App:

  1. HTML (eBook content)
  2. CSS (eBook code to stylize layout, etc.)
  3. JavaScript (For Advanced Use) such as eBook App development.

If we learn the above technology then we will have the core skills needed to develop applications for eBook readers.

Learning Priority Order:

  1. Learn first: HTML this is the document that holds all your content.
  2. Learn second: CSS this is the document that stylizes your HTML content.
  3. Learn third: JavaScript this is the programming language that gives the 'app' like look and ability to your HTML, CSS content.

Where to Learn Online:

  1. http://www.lynda.com/

    courses such as:

    • "HTML Essential Training"
    • "Developing Applications for Amazon Kindle Devices"
    • "Creating Ebooks for the Kindle"
  2. Udemy is another website for online learning.
  3. Code Academy (learn to code)
  4. Coursera - (Take free online classes from 120+ top universities and educational organizations.)

Learning Offline:

  1. Books of course! O'Reilly is a good publisher to checkout for technical skills.

Comparison Chart of eReader Features and Supporting Platforms:

However, learning to develop apps for the e-ink kindle devices specifically is a bit too narrow for me to personally consider it "practical".

For example the Kindle Fire has much better support for epub3 formats, app like content, etc.

That being said, what is practical may depend on your use or application as it is a matter of opinion.

What you DO NOT need to know for eBook App Development:

  1. Databases such as MySQL, MongoDB, etc.
  2. Frameworks (although you may find boilerplates that help your app development, packages, libraries, etc.)
  3. C++, C#, Python, Java to name a few.

Good to be Familiar with but may not Need:

  1. AJAX/JSON
  2. PHP

Above Skills related to Web Developers more so than having practical use for eBook app development

Final Thoughts:

I've worked for a major Distribution Book Publishing company for the last two and a half years as a digital content engineer managing the QA of our eBooks and can say without doubt, that if you use the above information, it will lead you into the correct direction.

That being said, there are many vendors that provide a service for ebook conversions and ebook app development. At some point you may consider or decide to look into what is available if you have the time or resources.

  • "... you DO NOT need to know ... [d]atabases such as MySQL, MongoDB, etc." Actually, the MOBI format supports SQL. Don't ask me why. – wizzwizz4 Aug 12 '17 at 8:17
  • how can you not reference an e-book first!?? Oh, the horror. The horror. – Thufir Jan 3 at 21:52
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First of all I have to know what kind of e-ink is it. As far as I know there is no single e-ink device can have apps run on it. You can simply create ebook and put it on that devices. If this is a case comment and I will put link about how to write and ebook or you can Bing it out. If you want app, I am Windows Phone app developer and I can say that you can create simple app with easy UI to tutor your teachers. If you do not want to build Windows Phone app you can build Android app, does not matter.

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    Amazon provides the Kindle Development Kit to create what they describe as active content. Active Content includes games, which seem similar to apps. Therefore, at least for Kindles, apps are possible. kdk.amazon.com/gp/public/gateway The first challenge is simply getting access to the tools from Amazon. I'm waiting for a response from them (beyond the automated 'we got your request' email). Then I want to know how to create viable apps. AFAIK e-ink kindles run something similar to J2ME as the operating system. I used to develop for J2ME when it was popular. – JulianHarty Dec 23 '13 at 11:08
  • Thank you for informing me. I was not know about Kindle Development Kit. Anyways I am Microsoft Developer and are not going to use this. Sorry for wrong answer. – TIKSN Dec 24 '13 at 11:55
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    Besides the Kindle for sure, I am pretty sure there is a way to do this on both Nook and Sony devices as well. This answer is factually wrong and misleading. – Caleb Feb 5 '14 at 23:02

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