When the Kindle e-reader hit the shelves, it took the market by storm. It wasn’t the first digital device for reading ebooks, but it was the first one to come with a user-friendly download process and a full library of books to back it up (it was no fun reading ebooks on a device when there were no mainstream ebooks to load into it). But even better than the abundance of titles or the ease of use was Amazon’s never-obsolete design concept.
The devices were built to accept seamless software updates that gave them new capabilities and even new functions, such as in the case of the early Kindles eventually becoming internet browsing-compatible and turning into MP3 players. This was accomplished without the release of a whole new model to meet consumer demand, but instead incorporated the new features by piggybacking off the existing capabilities of the devices.
The best part of these updates–at least from a user-friendly, consumer-centric model–was that the owners needn’t have done anything to install them. In much the same way that their books appeared on their devices after purchase, the software updates installed and took root.
Now, the next big thing in Kindle updates will add new sought-after features to some of the existing models. These changes may seem small on the surface, but interestingly, they address some of the key issues that readers have complained about.
The first is a better ability when it comes to buying books directly from the device itself. The library is easier to navigate and the recommended books are more visible without being obnoxious.
More importantly, the new update gives a facelift to a much-touted feature that until now served no discernible purpose. For years, multiple e-reader manufacturers and booksellers have bragged about the ability to annotate and share key lines from books, but it’s a feature that most casual readers never really took a shine to. Ignoring the benefits of this feature for non-fiction or collaborative texts, when you consider the function of a typical fiction book, posting a line from the text on your Facebook wall is the social media equivalent of reading snippets of your book aloud to your spouse. They’re simply trying to watch television while you annoy them with disconnected, disjointed sentences of a book they’ve never heard of.
Now, however, there’s a purpose in this text-sharing: readers who post quotes on their social media feeds will actually be sharing the direct link to read the full sample of the book and the option buy it. While critics will sneer and say it’s just another bookselling ploy, the reality is there’s no function in sharing lines from a book if the followers aren’t being given all the particulars of the book, a way to read more of it for themselves, and the ability to buy the book if they so choose.
This new firmware–and the other features that it includes–will instantly reach newer models of the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kindle Voyage, and the recent versions of the standard Kindle later this month.