Big improvements to Kindle for PC, promise of more

Amazon is applying its kaizen philosophy to Kindle for PC - It added some pretty big improvements and is promising even more improvements.

Kindle for PC Improvements Now Available

There’s a new version of Kindle for PC out and the improvements are -

  1. Ability to create and edit notes and highlights. A huge addition and a much-needed one.
  2. Brightness Controls. An obvious and very useful feature. 
  3. Full Screen Reading. This is surprisingly good.
  4. Background Color Setting. This lets you choose between white on black (night mode), black on white, and sepia. 

The Notes and Highlights are a huge feature and the brightness control works very well. The Night Mode is great for night reading on the PC and the Sepia is preferable to black text on a white background (well, for lots of people, it is – your mileage may vary).

It’s interesting that Amazon is keeping features almost the same across Kindle for iPad, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for iPhone. It’s a good idea as you have a certain level of comfort and familiarity and that stays no matter what platform/device you use the Kindle service on.

More Kindle for PC improvements on the Horizon

In addition to adding features Amazon have also hinted at future features. There are some pretty cool features that might make it to Kindle for PC -

  1. Search – search a book or search across your Kindle library. 
  2. Two Page Reading Mode.  
  3. Zoom and rotate images. 
  4. Folders – though Amazon keeps referring to them as Collections.

Note that Amazon says it is ‘thinking about bringing’ these features so nothing’s guaranteed.

Folders would be an obvious good addition. Search is long overdue. The two page reading mode is interesting – Would people really want that?

Amazon probably keeps referring to Folders as collections because with Folders people expect lots of things like sub-folders and physically moving files/books around. Guessing the Collections feature is more of a ‘linking’ feature where each book can be linked to any number of collections.

Kindle for Mac also slated to get improvements

Kindle for Mac is slated to get some improvements including -

  1. Create Notes and Highlights. 
  2. Search.
  3. Zoom. 

Mac users will be happy to know they haven’t been forgotten. Wonder how Kindle for Mac and iBooks for Mac will stack up once the latter is released.

Why are Amazon improving Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac?

You’ve got to wonder how well these Apps are doing for Amazon to focus all this energy on them.

There are actually two facets to it -

  1. Kindle owners reading on their PCs and Macs when their Kindle is not on them. Improving the apps makes it better for Kindle owners and also makes a Kindle purchase more compelling.  
  2. Kindle for PC users who wouldn’t buy an eReader and are instead reading on their PCs.

Amazon thinks the above are good enough reasons to put consistent effort into Kindle for PC.

There have got to be a pretty significant number of Kindle for PC users – Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to devote resources.

As Kindle for PC gets better what happens to the appeal of the Kindle?

The funnel theory i.e. Kindle for PC is just meant to train people to buy a Kindle, starts falling apart as Kindle for PC gets more and more features.

The addition of lots of cool features makes it more and more likely that readers will find that Kindle for PC is good enough for their needs and that they don’t really need a Kindle. It suggests one of two things -

  1. Amazon really are serious about treating the Kindle books business and the Kindle device business as two separate, independent businesses. 
  2. Kindle for PC user are buying enough ebooks for Amazon to have to take them seriously.

My money’s mostly on the second option. Kindle for PC was a rather limited feature – cool but limited and it was likely to make readers get into the Kindle ecosystem and then jump to a Kindle.

Now, with the improvements, what happens is that even after people get into reading they find that Kindle for PC meets most of their needs. If they have an iPhone they can supplement Kindle for PC with Kindle for iPhone. There might soon be a Kindle for Android.

Amazon seem to have decided that the ebook business is more important than the Kindle device. It’s probably the right decision.

4 Responses

  1. Great news! Thanks for the heads up. Can’t wait for the Kindle for Iphone update.

  2. I would agree with your assessment. I started with Kindle on the iTouch and then on the Mac. Now I am hooked and I am looking to get the Kindle device.

  3. Being in grad school and working full time requires that I maximize every minute. I often have free time at work but I do not have text or files to read without inconvenience. Would the Kindle DX or iPad meet that need where I could download files and so research . What I would like to see is Kindle built just for students but until then I need someone to advise me on my dilemma

    • Kindle DX or iPad would probably meet your needs partially. When you say download files and so research are we talking about PDF files?

      Are you looking for something that’s a web browser + downloader + document reader?

      Both Kindle DX and iPad aren’t optimal for the downloading part. Let me know what exactly your needs are and then perhaps I’ll have a better answer.

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