Round up #202: Amazon’s new social marketing, Paperwhite update
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
1st generation Kindle Paperwhite updated…but not with gen 2 features (yet?)
I recently wrote about Amazon’s announcement of a second generation Kindle Paperwhite. It appears to be kind of what I was expecting this year: incremental increases in hardware, and significant updates to the software and services.
I did order one: I think it will be different enough from my current Paperwhite to want to have one to write about for you.
However, there is an obvious question: if the changes are mostly software, will those be given to the 1st gen Paperwhites through an update?
That can’t always happen…there were things that the first generation Kindle (from 2007) just couldn’t do, due to hardware limitations, that later gens got. I don’t think that’s the case here, though…the new Paperwhite has a better light and a better screen and a faster processor, but that shouldn’t be enough to prevent many of the features being made available to the KP1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1).
So, I’ll admit that my hopes were raised when I saw that a new update had been released for the Kindle Paperwhite yesterday:
This is release 5.3.8…and it does add some features, but none of the new ones announced for the KP2, from what I can see.
I went ahead and updated it manually (instructions are at the above link), although it would hypothetically have done it itself eventually.
It adds three things, according to the announcement:
- When you search in a book, the search word is highlighted in the results
- If you have more than one dictionary on your Kindle, you can choose the dictionary to use when you look up a word
- Homonyms are displayed in lookup results
For me, these are somewhat minor changes, and they do work as advertised. Having the word highlighted is fine, although I didn’t have any problems finding them before (I think I scan text quickly).
The dictionary option thing? Might be useful if you have dictionaries for different languages, I suppose. On my test, I had the Oxford Dictionary of English or The New Oxford American Dictionary as choices. I suppose being able to see what a “jumper” was in England might have helped with Harry Potter, and understanding that a “trolley” might be a public conveyance in American or a “shopping cart” in England might clear up what might otherwise be a confusing mental image. ;)
While I know the difference, I mistakenly thought at first that it was going to show me homophones, not homonyms, which I think would have been more useful. I’m a bit surprised, and I may need to test it on another device, that the look-up didn’t always show homonyms (which are words which are spelled the same way, but mean different things…I think, technically, they also have to be pronounced the same way ((one which are just spelled the same way, but pronounced differently, like “a bow on a package” and the “bow of a boat” are homographs))). I think homophones (which sound the same, but are spell different…”they’re going to where their there is”) would have been useful, but harder to do.
I do think the KP1 is likely to get some of the same software features as the KP2 in an update…but it wouldn’t surprise me if they waited until after the KP2′s release at the end of the month.
My intuition, based in part on the amount of discussion I’m seeing, is that the KP2 is going to do very well.
By the way, I’m always interested to see the number of people who think that hardware features (a GPS chip, wi-fi versus 3G capability, audio) can be added with a software update. I’m guessing they think that any piece of technology can do pretty much anything, and you just choose what you want.
That just shows how much Arthur C. Clarke was right, about smoothly functioning technology appearing to be magic.
New features on Amazon’s book product pages
There have been some interesting things added to at least some Amazon book product pages recently.
One weird thing I was seeing yesterday, which I’m not seeing today, is that the book would appear to rotate…it would flip around so you would see the back of the book, then the front cover, then the back. However, it apparently wasn’t working correctly…because the text on the back of the book looked like you were seeing it in a mirror! That was a bit disconcerting: it was like you had \S/uperman’s x-ray vision and were looking through the book. I think that will come back in a corrected version.
More valuable right now is a “Listen” button below the book cover. These are on the p-book (paperbook) pages, by the way, not on the Kindle pages, from what I’ve seen. That lets you hear an excerpt from the audiobook (I presume it only appears if there is an audiobook): sort of like “Look Inside”, but for audio. Amazon now seems to be really linking audiobooks and p-books. “Shop by Department” (your top left corner of the page when shopping at Amazon.com) now lists “Books & Audible” as one category. They have also broken out “Kindle E-readers” and “Kindle Fire Tablets” into two categories.
This next feature may be a biggie…Collections.
Of course, naming it “Collections” makes me roll my eyes. When I taught people database design, one of the things I would tell them is to never name two objects that do different things with the same name. For example, I didn’t want them to have two “Accept” buttons on the same screen that had different consequences (that’s very confusing).
Amazon is terrible at that concept. One could example is “Cloud”. “Cloud” could refer to your “Cloud Player”, the “Cloud Drive”, your e-book archives…all at Amazon, all different.
In this case, calling it “Collections” when that is in use for an organizational tool (sort of the loose equivalent of folders) on your Kindles, which are only visible to your account, when this is a public grouping of things visible to everybody…sigh. I wonder how much that sort of confusion costs Amazon in Customer Service costs? “I put a book in a Collection on my Kindle, but it doesn’t appear to other people on Amazon. How do I fix that?” “If I put laundry detergent into a Collection on the Amazon website, will it appear on my Kindle and hurt my device?”
</rant> ;) Oh, sorry…that’s an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) joke. See, you use that sort of structure to tell a webpage to stop doing something…like </b> would mark the end of a bold section and…never mind. ;) I was just saying I was done with that rant about naming things.
You can now add Amazon items to Collections that other people can see. The Collections will appear on the page…which sounds similar to the lists that they have at the Amazon owned site IMDb.com. That’s something which I recently suggested Amazon should add. :)
I’d tell you more about it…but now, that feature isn’t working for me! The button is on the page in Maxthon (my preferred browser), but won’t launch…which it did ten minutes ago. It doesn’t appear for me in Internet Explorer.
I would say, expect a press release about this in the next few days. This is an important social marketing development, depending on the implementation of it.
I like these features better than the ads we are now seeing on Amazon product pages, although I am tolerant of those.
Update: I think it might not have been displaying because I already had a display page open. Here’s a place to get more information:
Oh, and here’s the page where you can see other people’s Collections:
They appear to have started to be posted there about four hours ago…
I’m going to explore this more..stay tuned.
Oyster, a “Netflix for e-books”, launches
People have asked about this sort of thing from the beginning of the Kindle: $9.95 a month for unlimited access to e-books…and ones that are well-known.
You won’t own the books, and it sounds like a good idea…but it is only for iPhone at this point. They say they’ll do an iPad version later this year, but have no plans for Android. If they did one for the Kindle Fire, I do think Amazon would approve it for the Amazon Appstore (they include a lot of competitors to Amazon content, like Netflix).
Here is a Google search with stories about it:
I expect to write more on this later.
Update: I should mention right now that HarperCollins is participating in this…I mentioned recently that I think they tend to be front runners in consumer-friendly e-book features.
Dualume is here
Gosh, I don’t know how long ago I was writing about the possibilities of devices that do both backlighting and non-backlighting. I called that “Dualume”, for “two types of illumination”. A non-Fire Kindle is “illuminated” by the light in the room, or by a frontlight in the case of the Paperwhites.
Now, PocketBook has made a cover that goes on a Galaxy S4…and gives it a non-backlit screen.
It’s a prototype, being introduced at IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin…a big consumer trade show in Germany)…here is the company’s product page on it:
Honestly, it seems a bit clunky, but wow, would I love a non-backlit screen for my SmartPhone! Imagine being able to see everything clearly in sunlight…even looking up numbers can be a challenge. I think that a SmartPhone with an E Ink screen is something Amazon might do…but reflective screens just haven’t been fast enough and haven’t been able to do color effectively in the market…and many people want to play Angry Birds. ;)
They’ll get there, though…I think full animation, full color, non-backlit screens are inevitable in the next few years.
What do you think? Would you want a non-backlit screen for your phone? How about for your tablet? Will you share Collections on Amazon’s website? Will you be interested in other people’s Collections? Do you want to own your e-books, or would the ability to read them be enough? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.