Kindle in Motion: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about Amazon’s New Enhanced Format (Screenshots)

Custom_Artwork_1._CB283118304_So a couple weeks back Amazon quietly launched a new ebook format for the Kindle (I think it's the sixth seventh different type of Kindle ebook).

First noticed by KBoards, Kindle in Motion adds GIF-like animations which can be seen on the Fire tablet and in the Kindle apps for iPad, Android, and iPhone (if you read one of these ebooks on a Kindle, you'll just see the regular ebook).

Edit: Kindle in Motion is not to be confused with Kindle A\V, or Kindle with Audio\Video. That format had embedded audio video clips, and debuted in 2010.

Amazon has not announced the new format, and they're not even talking about it. I was scooped on this story because I was waiting for Amazon to respond to my questions, but while I was waiting I bought a few ebooks and spent a few minutes playing with the format.

Here's what we know so far.

  • Six Kindle in Motion titles are available right now, all from Amazon's publishing division. This includes four original romance titles and two new editions for an Edgar Allan Poe collection and The Secret Garden.
  • The ebooks sport various enhancements like animated covers, video clips, and page backgrounds which can be turned on or off if you don't want to see them while reading.
  • The enhanced versions of the ebooks are limited to portrait mode only, and are quite large (200MB to 400MB).
  • There's no known way for anyone to use KDP to produce this format.

I bought several Kindle in Motion titles. The romance titles had embedded videos, but the two public domain titles had animations.

I took a few screenshots to give you an idea of what they look like, but then I noticed that Amazon has video previews - so I downloaded those instead. I can't find a way to limit the window size, sorry:

I could take or leave the animations, although I do admit that I like one snarky suggestion made on KBoards ("the bears are going to be shifting into billionaires on the covers"). Now that I would like to see.

On a more serious note, the Kindle in Motion ebooks do have at least one feature which IMO enhances the reading experience. A couple of the ebooks showed the text of the story over a page background.

Yes, I know that we've seen this type of feature with fixed layout ebooks, but Kindle in Motion lets you resize the text and maintain the backgrounds.

Do you see the branches in the corners of the first screenshot? No matter how you change the font size, the text will not cover the branches.

I love this.

That is a small change but I think it could make for a great improvement to the reading experience.

Even if a background were used in several books, or if all Kindle ebooks were limited to (say) a dozen backgrounds, I would still like to see this in the ebooks I read in my Kindle app.

This page background feature is the kind of thing which print snobs point to in a paper book and cite as an example of why print is better, and adding it to the Kindle platform would really go a long way to making ebooks the equal of print books as an art form and not just as a reading material.

Hey Amazon, what would it take to make this a standard feature?

About Nate Hoffelder (11576 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on Kindle in Motion: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about Amazon’s New Enhanced Format (Screenshots)

  1. Didn’t 11/22/63 have some enhanced content like videos when it came out? This doesn’t seem completely new.

    Most of the time ebooks don’t need this, but House of Leaves might actually be do-able as an ebook with this new format.

  2. I can see some application for the background feature, and I think the animation could work for kids’ books, but all in all, I can’t say I’m excited about this.

  3. Al the Great and Powerful // 14 August, 2016 at 2:02 pm // Reply

    Hey Amazon, what would it take to NOT make this a standard feature?

  4. I rolled my eyes when I first read this but when the 8 yo visited today, I decided to see what she thought of it. I downloaded The Secret Garden on the tablet and she loved it. She read three chapters before taking a break and read three more before she went home.

    She thought the book was pretty and the animations were a lot of fun.

    I ended up gifting the book to her parents’ account so she can have access to it at home as well.

    I will rethink my opinion on this extra stuff. There is no trouble getting this kid to read animations or not but if they expand the selection of books, there is a nephew that I’d love to try this with.

  5. Edgar Allan Poe. Not Allen.

  6. There has been a page background feature in some form since the first release of KF8. However, the one used here may use a different implementation or combination of features (noting the variable margins you note). The animations appear to me to be embedded videos and not animated GIFs.

    This is, of course, much like what iBooks demonstrates for the Harry Potter e-books (using proprietary IBA format), but I think it’s a little better (once they let everyone play with the format). Love the backgrounds, for those books where it is appropriate. And except for the file size issues, I think all ebooks should have animated covers (but I’m still in thrall to the novelty).

    No 2-column mode on my iPad in Landscape. It does ‘work’ in Landscape (displays text in the correct orientation), but does not use the entire screen. The app does not support ‘facing page’ mode, which would be the obvious solution to this deficiency, and would also probably help if and when they decide to support iOS Split View (iBooks, Play Books, Marvin and others have done so for some time now).

    Note that I was unable to find the Kindle In Motion title that I borrowed (via Kindle Unlimited) in the Library listing on my Paperwhite. However I was able to send a copy from my account’s Manage Your Kindle and Devices list. It is somewhat degraded: no fancy drop caps, line spacing is larger than normal, and obviously, no animation or page background. So the ‘available on these devices’ list is a little misleading, and one wonders which Amazon devices and Kindle apps actually support the KIM features (my Fire HD6[2014] does not, apart from the nice drop cap and title font).

    I noticed a small enhancement on MYC&D: you can send to more than one device now.

    Still wish there were a way to ‘request recall’ of a book from a given set of devices (or all devices) the next time they sync, given most books have a 5-device-at-a-time limit. Or that they just let you keep downloading and just removed everything but the most 5 recent downloads as those other devices sync.

    Also there is a new logo/(TM) (or at least one I had not seen before): ‘Amazon Encore’ (see it on the title page).

  7. Whoa. Thank you. I’m an author and just happened upon Rachel’s book when I was researching. Wondered what the heck was Kindle In Motion and thanks to you – now I know. I opened the book on my iPhone and saw nothing different than any other ebook so perhaps I need an
    Update on my software. But this is funky and cool. I like it.

    http://authorfaleenahopkins.com

  8. I downloaded the Poe book last night. Love it. I started writing midde grade interactive fiction after I downloaded the Alice in New York app and always hoped kindle would get to this sort of reading experience. Not too flashy, still about the reading, but going beyond paper.

  9. I see why kids might like it, and I can see it being useful for non-fiction. But I sure as heck don’t want clips in my fiction. For one thing, I’m not a child. For another, I form mental images of what the characters look like. Leave that alone. What’s wrong with people using their imagination? If you don’t want to do that, there’s always the television. I hope this never catches fire.

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