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

Kindle in Motion: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about Amazon's New Enhanced Format (Screenshots) e-Reading Software Kindle (platform) 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?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

28 Comments

  1. DavidW14 August, 2016

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder14 August, 2016

      Embedded audio and video clips (Kindle A\V) was one of the earlier enhanced formats, yes.

      Reply
  2. carmen webster buxton14 August, 2016

    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.

    Reply
  3. Al the Great and Powerful14 August, 2016

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

    Reply
  4. Anne14 August, 2016

    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.

    Reply
  5. Will Entrekin15 August, 2016

    Edgar Allan Poe. Not Allen.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder15 August, 2016

      thanks.

      Reply
  6. Tom S15 August, 2016

    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).

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder15 August, 2016

      “There has been a page background feature in some form since the first release of KF8.”

      Are you sure? From what I heard from tech people, I don’t think that’s true.

      Reply
  7. […] Some pundits would tell you that the best opportunities for authors are the ones they create for themselves, and now that apparently includes enhanced ebook formats like Amazon's Kindle in Motion. […]

    Reply
  8. […] Fachblog The Digital Reader hat sich einige der 200 bis 400 Mbyte schweren Kindle-in-Motion-Titel angesehen und ist angetan. Vor allem die angepassten Hintergründe würden das Leseerlebnis klar bereichern. […]

    Reply
  9. Faleena Hopkins17 August, 2016

    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

    Reply
  10. […] Kindle in Motion: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about Amazon’s New Enhanced Format (Screenshots) The Digital Reader […]

    Reply
  11. […] In the intro, I talk about my ARKANE boxset hitting the USA Today bestseller list and how you could do it too through ad stacking. Plus, Wattpad in-story ads and the new Kindle Motion format. […]

    Reply
  12. Deb Potter24 August, 2016

    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.

    Reply
  13. Shelley13 September, 2016

    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.

    Reply
  14. […] was smart enough to offer these books with the option to read without the new enhancement. See The Digital Reader for more info as well as a great clip to show the actual motion. Let me know what you think, […]

    Reply
  15. […] – I just discovered my copy may have something called Kindle in Motion that I’ve never heard of, and now I’m going to have to go back and look at my copy […]

    Reply
  16. Micheal Nelson27 February, 2017

    I am curious about how to edit versions of eBooks like this going forward. I have always envisioned my novel “fully ilustrated” and at the least I already have hundreds of photos ready to go. I am currently best advised to put such a version on my own website for release as a serial novel, since the pics fatten the file to sizes unpopular with impatient book downloaders.
    THIS format would be a great workaround, both as stills and especially if I animate them gently as GIFs.
    Keep us posted on developments on this format! I hope it becomes a normal template Kindle releases in a similar way Createspace puts out those frameworks for covers…. Just drop in chapters and animations.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  17. Theo Fenraven25 May, 2017

    Recently, the fantasy book Off to Be the Wizard was updated with Kindle in Motion. I gotta say, the additional flourishes were a lot of fun and worked really well in this book. I have two Kindle Fires. I didn’t see KiM on the older one, but it popped right up on the new one. I think this is a great addition, and I hope more authors take advantage of it.

    Reply
  18. […] Amazon launched its latest enhanced ebook format last August, it did so with little fanfare and only used titles […]

    Reply
  19. […] the illustrations actually do move, just like in J. K. Rowling’s vision! Yes, it’s the Kindle in Motion […]

    Reply
  20. […] of books: The Kindle apps support audio and video embedded in an ebook, and last year Amazon also debuted the Kindle in Motion […]

    Reply
  21. SteveH3 January, 2018

    RE: “There has been a page background feature in some form since the first release of KF8. ”
    Yes, (I had to look it up in my old versions of KDP Tech Specifications from ~2015.) The CSS ‘background-image’ attribute is supported, but I’ve never tried it out myself (but I will now…)

    You can see the various features and try it out yourself at this cool interactive page at W3Schools.com:
    https://www.w3schools.com/css/css_background.asp

    Reply
  22. Charlotte9 January, 2018

    I whole heartedly agree with Shelley! While I read for pleasure it is very serious business for me. I’m retired now and reading consumes at least 50% of my waking time, all of my ‘waiting’ time for the doctor, for a ride, for the next available representative, etc.
    We’re told to give our eyes a break from looking at screens. Why muddy pages up with unnecessary flourishes especially animated kinds?
    The book I bought is “Ripper,” by Patricia Cornwall and I’m on here to find out what Kindle In Motion is. Needless to say, I’m doubly unexpired to have Jack-the-Ripper enhanced with animations.
    Regardless of that, besides being unnecessary, I fear the flourishes will be distracting and make the reading harder on my eyes.
    I read for the story, for the plot for the wonderful rich imaginations of authors. I read instead of watching the movie because the book is always better, richer in detail and fuller in character development. Just because it’s electronic doesn’t mean we can’t start with a blank page.

    Reply
  23. […] launching the format in July 2016, Amazon has released a grand total of 29 Kindle in Motion ebooks including Hugh Howey's Wool […]

    Reply

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