Amazon to Add New Reading Features to the Kindle Platform This Fall
In addition to launching a couple new Kindles on Wednesday, Amazon is also saying that they’re launching a whole slew of new reading features (some of which, including Kindle Unlimited, aren’t quite as new as Amazon would have you think).
Amazon is pitching Kindle Freetime Unlimited, X-Ray, Kindle Unlimited, and
GoodReads integration as being "all-new reading features", but I don’t see anything new there so I will skip them. (If I missed something, please leave a comment, and kudos for pointing out my omission.)
But some of the features are new to me, or at least sound like they’re improved versions of existing features, including a new assisted reading option called Word Wise, Family Library, an enhanced search function, and a new about section.
Amazon says that the new new features will be added this fall in a firmware update.
About the Book
This one sounds appealing. The About the Book section offers information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark. This feature builds on Amazon’s book social networks and existing features like "About the Author" to provide more details for the engaged reader.
I also don’t see that I have the Word Wise feature, which i suspect may be an improved version of the Vocabulary Builder. Word Wise was developed for kids learning to read and for readers learning English, and it is intended to make it easier to understand challenging books.
According to Amazon, after Word Wise is added in a future update readers will find their ebooks peppered with short and simple definitions floating above difficult words. To learn more, a reader can tap on the word to bring up a simple card with definitions, synonyms, and more. Amazon says that this is an optional feature, and that you can select the density of the hints with a simple slider.
Deeper Goodreads Integration
Amazon’s found a new way to sell you ebooks – from inside the Goodreads pages on your Kindle. When the new firmware update rolls out, readers will be able to purchase books without leaving Goodreads on Kindle, and update their reading status more quickly from their device.
The search function has been one of my favorite features since the Kindle launched 7 years ago, and Amazon says that it’s getting better. The new enhanced search function will make it even easier to find what a reader is looking for by combining and previewing results from their Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store – all on the same page of search results. I’m not sure that I see how that is better, but I could be wrong.
And last but not least, there’s the Family Library. Want to share ebooks with your close relatives but don’t want to let them have access to your account? Then you’ll like this. I don’t have many details on it yet, but Amazon says that it will enable readers to access not only their own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a partner or relative. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to try it; I can finally get my mom off of my account.
According to the press release, the features above will be delivered as part of a free, over-the-air software update sometime this fall.
Syn September 18, 2014 um 2:10 am
Nat,e when you get yours, let me know if it still has Phrase search. This allowed me to search for a certain phrase and it would pull up all the books on my device with the exact or near exact match. Its been on all the previous Kindles, but its not listed as a feature on the new, higher priced Voyager.
Syn September 18, 2014 um 2:14 am
By the way, my thoughts on this is that Amazon has dropped two bombs this year. Fire Phone and this over priced ereader. The price for the previous year, 3g model was already pushing it.
My predictions is it will be on sale before Christmas on 5 easy pays to try to move them. Right now, I’m thinking if I should move my stock before next earnings call.
Basem September 18, 2014 um 2:22 am
It sells at similar price to the Kobo Aura H20 and that comes with a 7 inch screen and similar ppi. If I was to get an ereader, then I’d go with the Kobo one; seven inch is the right size for epub and mobi books. I don’t understand why Amazon has taken the 'premium' direction but without increasing screen size. Anyway, Amazon, like Apple, is just a monster and no one can really competes with them (to Joe public, all tablets are iPads and all ereaders are Kindles!).
Basem September 18, 2014 um 2:27 am
It’s a great e-reader no doubt and from what it seems, for a 6 inch ereader, probably the best one out there – but charging $199 for an e-reader is no value for money. This reminds me of Apple’s strategy and may be Amazon are trying to make some profit from the hardware …
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Geert September 18, 2014 um 1:40 pm
I wonder about this Family Library thing. Making it easier to share ebooks with others goes against everything the big publishers stand for. They want every reader to buy their own copy of an ebook. Do current ebook licenses even allow this?
I wonder if Amazon discussed this with the publishers? Perhaps the publishers will be able to turn this feature off, just like the lending feature?
If Amazon allows this for all ebooks, without consulting the publishers, I do not think the publishers will be very happy about this (on the other hand, can Amazon’s relationships with the big publishers get any worse?).
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Offie September 18, 2014 um 7:14 pm
Thanks for the article!
So these features will be available on the new Kindles when they release an update, but what about the Paperwhite? Will it get an update as well?
Nate Hoffelder September 18, 2014 um 7:22 pm
I expect it to get an update, yes.
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