Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

Amazon sent me an e-mail yesterday announcing a major update for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), and I appreciate that reader Jay Howard gave me a heads-up as well! Letting me know about stories, especially linking to them, is always welcome, even if I’m already aware of it. It helps me judge interest, and sometimes links me to a different perspective on it.

You can see the high-level announced features here:

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is a major redesign to the User Interface (UI)…one of the biggest changes we’ve had.

Since the first Kindle in 2007, the homepage has looked pretty much the same…a listing of books (and some other items, like blogs, newspapers, and while they were around, active content games and apps). We did get the ability to display them with thumbnails (small pictures) of the covers, but the only other big change really was the presence of ads if you bought one of the more popular ad-supported models.

This changes that.

You get a look that’s more like a tablet, with different sections.

This is customizable, but you might have one section with the covers of a few recent books, another section with your lists (Amazon Wish Lists, samples you’ve downloaded, your Goodreads “Want to read” list), another one with recommendations…it looks pretty configurable.

Now, it’s worth noting that all three of those “Reading Lists” can really be more “Shopping Lists”. They can be used for different purposes, but most people use Amazon Wish Lists for things they would like to get, at least hypothetically (that’s why they are called “wish” lists). A sample is intended to help you make up your mind about whether you want to buy a book or not. You might have a lot of Goodreads shelves, but it’s the one that is aspirational that it says it will list.

That’s fine with me, and not a surprise…we’ll see how configurable it all is, but it looks like the main point is to make it easier for you to get another book from Amazon.

In fact, almost all of the features on this page can have a positive impact on sales.

They talk about a recommendation engine (you say what you like, it recommends books for you).

That helps inform what happens at the bottom of your screen, but they want to use a number of approaches. The page says, “…show you personalized book recommendations, books your Goodreads friends are reading, best-selling titles, and more.”

Don’t worry, it’s not all about you buying books…it’s about you selling them, too. 😉

How do you sell books for Amazon?

You do it by sharing the information about them with other people…and they are making that quite easy. Right from the book, you’ll be able to share a quotation to Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook, and Amazon will link a preview of the book, which can be used in a browser. The preview will, I’m sure, have a link to buy the book.

They are also simplifying the settings: Airplane mode, for example, will be available with one toolbar tap.

Now, lest this post sound cynical, I think people will like the update. It will make things more visually interesting, more controllable, and I think we readers will find it to be simpler.

Remember also that we want Amazon to sell books! We want them to make money…that encourages them to continue to support EBRs, and to do new development. We also don’t want Amazon to go out of business…ever. 🙂 That would be a serious problem for our Kindle libraries.

The update will happen over the air during February for your device.

Update: if you’d prefer to download it yourself (so you don’t have to wait), you can do so here:

Kindle Software Updates (at AmazonSmile*)

I think Amazon’s instructions are pretty good on this one.

This update is coming to the current Kindles:

I don’t think this homescreen redesign will come to the earlier generations, although that doesn’t mean they won’t ever get another update.

I might have written about this yesterday, but I was being recorded by Len Edgerly for Friday’s

The Kindle Chronicles podcast

and that took up what would otherwise have been writing time, perhaps. 🙂

It was a great experience, and I look forward to hearing the finished show! A question from one of my readers was included by Len, which I appreciated!

So, what do you think about the upgrade? Is it exciting to see Amazon updating the EBRs? Do you worry that they’ll eventually drop them in favor of backlit devices…or will there be, perhaps, a technological merging of the two? Do these features look exciting to you, or do you question whether it helps Amazon more than it helps you? When you buy an EBR, do you accept that it won’t always have all of the cutting edge features? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Updated update on the update: I updated! 😉 I left my Paperwhite on wi-fi all day today, came home, and it had updated. I also left it plugged in, by the way. Over the next couple of days I’ll go through it thoroughly. I plan to produce a “menu map” before Sunday. In the mean time, I really appreciate the comments my readers are making to this post, giving their first impressions. Thanks, readers!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


12 Responses to “Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    I have not bought a Kindle in 3-1/2 years, but in a fit of de-cluttering, just shipped a couple of my old Kindles and a 1st gen Fire in for credit and the $20 promotion towards a new Kindle. So I’ll probably be able to justify getting a new one.

    I probably should have held off on one of the returns, I see the fine print says I need to use the promotion by the end of this month and ideally I’d save it for a Voyage 2, assuming that is in the works for spring. The feature update might be some sort of harbinger of that. I had a third Kindle that’s not getting used (and cannot get anyone to borrow), and I thought it had a dead battery (first attempt to charge it up failed), but it miraculously revived, so I decided to keep it. And it looks like I could cancel one of the returns I just shipped out and return it when timing is more opportune (assuming the Kindle trade-in promotion will continue). It’s still in great condition.

    I’m not particularly interested in any of the new features (I’ve read elsewhere it includes a ‘dyslexia’ font as well), and would probably ‘customize’ the defaults for something a little less busy, but my PW1 lacks some features already available on newer Kindles, and a newer model should be a bit faster (one reason I don’t use my PW1 much).

    BTW PW2 (2013) will get the update.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I appreciate you sharing your experience!

      I haven’t traded in a Kindle/Fire, but Amazon has certainly been pushing it lately! I’ll admit to a sentimental attachment to them, and I tend to want to hold on to them for reference (although I haven’t had a question about the 2007 model recently…).

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’ve already noticed one change in the Kindle Store page on my Voyage. It’s again possible to get a listing of available Kindle Blogs. That option had disappeared for a long time. I’m not sure when it returned, but I just discovered it two days ago. The one change I really wish hey would add would be to increase the font size in the Kindle Store. It is so teeny tiny that I have major difficulties reading it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!


      It has felt to me like Amazon doesn’t prioritize the blogs much…if they did make a software change to make them more visible, that’s a good sign.

      You aren’t the first to ask me about the size of the interface text on this! That’s one of the big advantages of the Fire tablet for me: I can triple tap and magnify the screen…pretty much any screen. I’ll be looking to see if they put anything in to make websites and the store more accessible in the new update…

  3. Phink Says:

    I am really excited about this. I love the new look. However, I hope the recommendation part is not mandatory. I’m hoping I can get rid of that. The current kindles allow a user to tell the Kindle not to show recommendations. While recommendations sometimes show me something I would not have thought of myself it is a very rare thing. I just rather use that space on the screen for something else myself.

  4. Robert Anderson Says:

    As soon as I got the email I decided to download and install the update on my Kindle Voyage. Since I keep lots of books on the Voyage my free space as about equal to the update file size. Last update I installed had problems with this low free space, so I moved off about 1 gb of books first, the ones not from the store that are side loaded. The update ran and took a few minutes to finish. I added the books back using the USB cable.

    After a day of use, I like it. Recommended!

    The home screen reminds me of the latest Fire (really like the text to speech on the new Fire, multiple voice options) I got for $39 on black Friday. I can see where they borrowed some of the layout and features. Nice to have a quicker access to airplane mode and settings, with the brightness control right there too.

    Having a reading list that includes Samples is great. I try lots of samples, and this will make it easier to manage and clean them up.

    It is easy to toggle the home screen changes on or off, and when off you have the old home screens back again (mostly).

    Personal books have a new look in cover view, as do collections. Now called Grid view. I like the new look, less background graphics. Each book has a percent read on the grid view.

    The new font, OpenDyslexic, not for me, but I am sure will be good for some folks. Still using Bookerly most of the time, or Futura.

    You get a new User’s Guide 4th edition describing all the features and changes.

    Performance, page turn, book open, menu display, these all seem the same, nothing is slower with the update. Other settings all retained, vocabulary builder retained. Will have to see how battery life is impacted, don’t expect much change.

    The number key pad or alphabet pad looks different, only numbers/letters, without the 3-D button effect before update.

    I don’t use Goodreads enough to see differences.

    Decided to leave my Paperwhite alone, see if the auto update works, and when.

    • Roberta S. Says:

      Can you walk me thru the steps to download it from the web? I looked yesterday and did not see a manual upload.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Roberta!

        I think Amazon’s instructions here:

        Kindle Software Updates (at AmazonSmile)

        are pretty good.

        I’ll update the post to include that link…I had meant to do that.

        If you need more help with it after trying that page, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have.

  5. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Since I don’t have wi-fi, I probably won’t get this update unless I download it from Amazon and do it manually. My biggest concern is what changes have been made in fonts and spacing. The early Voyage software left gaping holes in text with larger font sizes because of the full line justification. That was improved significantly in the last upgrade I downloaded. My only remaining complaint was that the font size went from too small to almost too large without a just right. Is there still a huge difference between the third largest font, which is too small, and the second largest font which is almost too big? Is the justification smoother, less smooth, the same?

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well, I have not received it on my PW3 yet. I’m not sure that I’ll like it — I’ll have to see it, feel it, lick it (:grin) before I can decide.

    I think this corresponds with a complete redesign of the Amazon Home page which I like a lot. The top three or so bands are unchanged, but then there is a band containing counts of your open orders, preordered books (I had looked far & wide for that), Your Alexa shopping list (! — but not the todo list), Audible Books, Member Since.

    Then it has recommendations, but way beyond books. First it seems to put thumbnails of stuff you’ve ordered in the past in boxes grouped in some cases by department in other cases by I don’t know what, then recommendations of stuff you’ve not bought before.

    Then books also thumbnails in boxes by genre: historical books, engineering books, Sci-Fi, etc., then a boxes for software, canned food, music, cell phones & accessories, new movie releases, etc..,etc., etc.

    At the bottom of each box is a count of the items in the box; clicking on that brings up a horizontal scroll band of all the items in the box (some boxes have hundreds of items — only 3 or 4 thumbnails of which items are displayed).

    This is easier for me to keep track of reorders rather than searching through the “my orders” page.

    Now if they’d only do something like this for the “Manage My Content & Devices” page (:grin)

  7. I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround! | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February […]

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