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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Can Microsoft Surface Inspire Kindle Interface Enhancement?

The introduction of eReaders into the portable electronics world immediately led to prophetic statements declaring them irrelevant in a world that already had access to tablets.  The Kindle vs iPad debate was long and monotonous, but over time people have generally come to accept that there is a distinction between the two types of device.  While most tablet functions would be more or less ridiculous to add to a dedicated reading device like the Kindle, however, Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet has introduced a useful concept that may have important implications for the future of electronic reading devices.

The Surface will incorporate technology that separates general touch recognition from stylus recognition, making it possible to take notes conveniently on the screen of the tablet without having to worry about where your fingers are positioned.  As anybody who tries to write naturally on a tablet for the first time will likely be immediately aware, it can be quite difficult to manage without either setting the device down or letting a thumb wrap around onto the screen.

Amazon has already done something great for Kindle users with Whispernet.  Having all of your annotations saved, along with bookmarks, page position, and so on, regardless of where you are loading your content from allows the Kindle platform to be device independent and convenient for just about anybody.  Unfortunately, taking notes on an actual Kindle eReader is a huge inconvenience.  Even with the keyboard provided by the Kindle Keyboard (or the virtual one on the Kindle Touch), it’s a slow and annoying process that will usually result in there being few such notes taken.

While it would definitely mean a slightly higher production cost, and would probably require a greater expense as far as data transfer and storage in concerned due to the increase in use, Amazon would be wise to adopt a similar option in their next Kindle upgrade.

The last remaining hurdle for eReaders at this point is their inability to match the convenience of paper books when it comes to direct interaction.  Annotation is part of that.  This would not make it any easier to flip rapidly from place to place in your favorite book, but that is not a sensation that can be replicated on a screen.  The pleasure of making one’s own contribution to a personal copy of a book is far simpler to bring to the new medium.

There is no indication that Amazon is going to make this sort of change.  This is merely speculation about what could eventually become a major selling point.  Until color E Ink style screens advance to the point where they are worth integrating, there isn’t a lot that can be done to make the Kindle a better reading tool.  The screen is already offering basically the same reading experience that you get from paper.  It’s not easy to find ways to make paper replication an exciting new thing once you reach this level of sophistication.  Improved writing inputs could be just what the Kindle needs in that respect.

Thinking about the Kindle Update Features Academically

Something I didn’t consider at first, but probably should have, when I saw the details of the Kindle 3.1 software update this week was that it seems to introduce features highly applicable to improved use in classrooms.  Admittedly, there are a variety of different ways to use all of these things, but this one stands out.  Bear with me for a second.

The most highly publicized feature, the “Real Page Numbers”, isn’t exactly as natural a thing as it seems.  There’s not really such a thing as standardized pagination between editions of a book.  If you grab a paperback and a hardcover of the same title, you can’t exactly expect to see page correlation.  It’s actually more shocking when it’s there.  The same can be true of two paperbacks purchased years apart.  Where you need to have that consistency, though, is in a large group all actively discussing the same book.  Usually that means a classroom.  Besides the occasional book club, there simply aren’t that many non-academic reasons where you would need an actual corresponding page number.  Now, I’m not talking about how nice it is or how enjoyable it is to users.  That’s another discussion.  But this is definitely one place where it will be extremely functional.

The other big point, at least as far as I’m choosing to prioritize the new features, is the Public Notes option.  Now, I love being able to share notes with friends.  It’s even amazing to have the option of such an interesting mode of author/reader interaction.  But where I see the potential is in professional annotation.  One of the biggest problems I’ve heard of over and over again on college campuses, with eReaders in general and the Kindle in particular, was the inability to make use of scholarly editions of popular texts from Norton and the like.  This would open up the ability to do something like that, probably with the option to toggle such notes on and off, and even let it be dynamically updated should the need arise.  Accomodating, to say the least.

Also related, though I doubt it was so much as a consideration in the formation, is the revised magazine formatting.  It’s definitely easier to navigate things now that the quickie snapshot is available for moving around with.  Since the screen doesn’t exactly lend itself to advertising anyway, I’ve always felt that the potential was greater for journal publications than popular magazines anyway.  This just makes it that much better.  Do I see anybody falling all over themselves to adopt the new format?  Not really.  That doesn’t make it a bad idea though, and I’d like more publishers to see the potential.

Now, after looking at it a lot i really don’t think that any of this besides maybe the page numbering could be said to be directed specifically at the usefulness of the Kindle in schools.  That doesn’t make it any less applicable though.  Moves like these will make a lot of progress for Amazon when they try once again to break into the Academic scene.