Kindle adds Page Numbers

The Kindle now has a software update available that adds real page numbers. The software update with the Kindle Page Numbers feature is now available as a free early preview.

You can get the Kindle software update with real page numbers at the Amazon Help page. There are instructions on how to install it. Please note that this software update is only for Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi.

Here’s what Amazon has to say about it on their blog post about the Kindle Page Numbers feature –

 Real Page Numbers – Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class. 

Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to print books, which is how page numbers have been added to e-books in the past, we’re adding real page numbers that correspond directly to a book’s print edition.

We’ve already added real page numbers to tens of thousands of Kindle books, including the top 100 bestselling books in the Kindle Store that have matching print editions and thousands more of the most popular books.  Page numbers will also be available on our free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle apps in the coming months.

Funny how Amazon fires a shot at Nook and Sony Reader with the little ‘how page numbers have been added to ebooks in the past’ snip. Actually, it’s strange – Nook books do seem to use real page numbers or something like that. Sony definitely adds page numbers for some books. Perhaps someone with more experience using Nook and Sony Reader can chime in.

Kindle Page Numbers – The Details

Let’s see –

  1. Only available for Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi owners. 
  2. Currently available as an ‘early preview’. You can download it now or wait for whenever it’s no longer an early preview.
  3. These are real page numbers corresponding to the page numbers in real books.
  4. ‘Real’ Page Numbers have already been added to tens of thousands of Kindle books. This is such a perfect opportunity to make fun of Amazon’s love of vagueness. We have added an unspecified number of page numbers to an unspecified number of books. These are real page numbers as opposed to unreal page numbers. With real page numbers you can never tell exactly how many books have them.
  5. Page Numbers will soon be available in books read using Kindle Reading Apps.

This is a hugely important feature, and Amazon adding it increases the gap between Kindle and other dedicated eInk eReaders.

How much of a difference do Kindle Page Numbers make?

Well, let’s consider the missing features that come up more often than ‘a lack of page numbers on the Kindle’ when people are choosing which eReader to buy.

  1. Library Books.
  2. ePub.

That’s it. Nothing else comes to mind.

Page Numbers are probably the 3rd or 4th biggest reason people were choosing a rival eReader instead of the Kindle. Now, Kindle has ‘Real’ page numbers and it’s increased the gap between it and Nook and Sony Reader.

45 thoughts on “Kindle adds Page Numbers”

  1. You can get the Kindle software update with real page numbers at the Amazon Help page. There are instructions on how to install it. Please note that this software update is only for Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi.

    ????????????????????????????? That sucks!!! I paid more for my Kindle DX then the newer users, I want it too!

  2. I think it is a big deal. I have no need for them. But as Alan Jacobs (English professor, blogger) said. He will never be able to teach with a kindle without page numbers because he needs the page number to get students to the right place in a book.

    1. That’s ridiculous, Kindles or the free disposable ereader that’s coming will be mandatory for all students.

      Then everyone will be able to teach with them, just say goto location ###, or just press the button that makes the students ereaders jump to that location, easy pie.

      I feel that this new feature creates more problems than it supposedly solves.

  3. Do you know what the reason it is not available for the Kindle 2? Just curious, as I know that the 2 was a very big seller.

  4. Haha..I guess after I remove a word or two from a comment, I should check to see if it makes any sense….but, I think you probably caught what I was trying to ask 🙂

  5. I think the whole “page number” issue is one of not understanding how to use new media. You just “google”, for lack of a better term, a phrase, and there you are, on the same page as everyone else, no matter what font, text size you use. In a literature class, many people use different editions, and page numbers are useless.

    The only exception I can think of is line numbers for poetry, which would be of use.

    1. “You just “google”, for lack of a better term [search for], a phrase, and there you are, on the same page as everyone else,”

      Not if you’re the one with a paper book, and you’re being given a phrase to find, or a location to go to.

  6. Finally! They should have done this years ago—I pounded the table about it on Amazon’s Kindle discussion site when the K1 was first out. I’d like to hear the “inside story” on why the feature wasn’t included in the first place.

    My guess is that, although page numbers were effortlessly available from publishers for current books, they weren’t included in lots of other books, like those from Gutenberg, etc. Therefore, since it would have been “inconsistent” to provide page numbers only for some books but not others, some decision-maker thought it would be better to provide none. I.e., most likely some left-brained type–a programmer, perhaps–inflicted his unworldly values-hierarchy on the rest of us.

    I hope you (Switch) will keep us up to date on any nuggets of background information that get posted on Amazon’s Kindle forum or elsewhere.

  7. The page numbers that you see in ePub readers like the Nook or Adobe Digital Editions are not real page numbers corresponding to a print edition, but just place settings in the book like location numbers on the Kindle. They just call them page numbers instead of location numbers.

    1. Actually, this depends on the book. I really don’t understand why Amazon seems to be implying they are better.

      From the Nook user guide:

      When you read a book or periodical on your NOOKcolor, you’re reading the same words that appear in the paper edition of the book or periodical. In most books, the page number that shows in the upper right corner of your NOOKcolor screen shows the page number that would appear if you were reading the printed version of the same book.

      Because printed pages can be larger than the screen of your NOOKcolor, and because many printed books use type that is smaller than would be pleasant to read on an eReader, your NOOKcolor may enlarge the type on a page and spread a physical page of text across two or more digital pages.

      Because digital pages might be smaller than the physical pages of a book, you might turn the page a few times on your NOOKcolor and still see the same physical page number in the upper right hand corner. For example, you might find three screenfuls of text in your book all labeled page 47.
      The relation between digital pages and physical pages can vary, because your NOOKcolor gives you a great deal of freedom in choosing the size of fonts, the amount of spacing between lines, and other factors that affect how text flows onto a page.
      In most books, you’ll always know which physical page you’re on from the number in the upper right. So if you’re discussing a book in a book club, everyone can refer to page 295 and be talking about the same page, even if you’ve configured your NOOKcolor to use small type and single-spacing and everyone else in the group is using large type and double-spacing.

      • eBooks and Periodicals in EPUB format
      EPUB is the standard format for books in the Barnes & Noble online store. The EPUB format numbers all pages in a book sequentially, based on some prior account of page numbering, such as the page numbering used in the print edition. If the print edition of the book had 525 pages, so will the eBook. But the pages are re-flowed in the eBook edition to make them easier to view on a screen. As a result, a page from the print edition might be larger or smaller than a page in the eBook.
      In many cases, a page from the print edition will span two or more pages on an eReader, as described above.

      • Reflowable eBooks in PDF Format
      In reflowable eBooks formatted in PDF, page numbering is for the entire book and reflects some prior account of page numbering, before formatting for the eBook text size. The behavior is the same as for eBooks in EPUB format, which is described above.

      • Non-reflowable eBooks in PDF format
      Page numbering is for the entire book, and reflects the number of scanned pages. Page numbers also might be on the scanned pages, but there is no necessary relationship. Page 6 in the eBook might have the scanned page number iv, and page 30 in the eBook might have the scanned page number 5.

      1. So this is just a bit of marketing on the part of Amazon, to “compete” with the nooks and sony readers? I don’t have a use for it but I can see how book clubs, that usually purchase identical version of books? Might be happy here,

        Of course, a fully featured and accessible book club program on the Kindle might make more sense here, Kindle’s are pretty cheap comparatively, Amazon could offer a couple books with each new Kindle purchase that also purchases their new book club software, blah blah blah.

  8. Here’s something else important in Amazon’s notice that I hope Switch and others will comment on. (It really deserved its own “thread” on the Amazon forum.):

    “• Before You Go… – When you reach the end of the book, we will now offer a seamless experience that lets you immediately rate the book, share a message about the book with your social network, get personalized recommendations for what to read next, and see more books by the same author.”

  9. It says on the help page that the upgrade will be delivered automatically to the 3rd generation Kindles via WiFi once it’s finalized. I’m inclined to wait rather than waste time installing the preview.

  10. Just installed it. I could not care less about “real” page numbers (as Einstein said, everything is relative, right?) and found the locations system quite convenient actually… but the “before you go” features got me. I do tend to browse a lot of “users who bought this also bought” items, and I always found ‘personalized suggestions’ fascinating in their complexity to be coded properly. Looking forward to see what will show up there 🙂

  11. Here’s what I just posted on the Amazon site’s thread on this:

    I assume (actually I only hope) that these page numbers will be shown as well as, or instead of, location numbers in my Notes and Marks. Half their benefit would be lost if not.

  12. This is a huge upgrade to the software. 🙂 As has been mentioned above, if you’re a student (or the teacher) in a classroom, you need to be able to find the exact page that the teacher or other students may be pointing to in their hard-copy editions. Without page numbers it would be hard do that. Of course, even then you would need to be using the same edition from the same publisher to get the desired effect (since page numbering will vary from edition to edition, publisher to publisher), but …

    Also, it’s funny, I was just having a conversation last week with someone (a Kindle 2 user, unfortunately) who was mentioning that she was reading a book on her Kindle and her husband was reading the same book in hard-back and they couldn’t tell each other easily how to get to really interesting sections in the book. Having real page numbers (at least for Kindle 3 users right now), solves that annoying inconvenience.

  13. It also makes a difference if you belong to a book club and the book is being read there. I am disappointed that this feature will not be available for the Kindle 2.

  14. I think this is a big deal and have said so many times in the past. It has been a significnt annoiance for friends who used Kindles in groups with printed versions of the same book, book-edition variations duly noted.

    I installed the pre-release update, but have noticed no difference with any of the books I’ve opened so far. Do the books have to be re-downloaded for this feature to work, or is it just my luck that the publishers’ books I’ve sampled don’t have this feature “turned-on”?


  15. I just want to add that the 3.1 early preview is really fast. It feels that it is significantly faster than 3.0.3 and other previous version. When I press the next page button, it feels that page flipping is faster than camera shutter.

    If you remember how the Kindle 3G 3.0.1 version reacts, it is really a very big improvement.

    The only pitfall is that the update file is 22mb in size.

  16. From Amazon:

    “Not all Kindle books include page numbers. Kindle books that include page numbers will list “Page Numbers Source ISBN (the print book identification number)” for the matching print edition under “Product Details” on the detail page at If the Page Numbers Source ISBN (the print book identification number)” listed under “Product Details” on the product detail page is the same edition as your print book, the Kindle page numbers will match the page numbers in the printed edition.”

  17. I’m a complete newbie at this. I tried to install but when I go to “settings”, I do not see “Update your Kindle”. It’s not even grayed out. I just can’t find it. I looked through all 3 pages of the settings page. I dragged the entire bin file into the root directory. It isn’t in a folder. Do I upzip the bin file first? I tried that and it didn’t work. I’m pretty computer savvy but I think Amazon could be a bit more clearer. I have the correct file number. Checked the serial number. Thanks for your help. I’m using a mac. I have the wifi version bought at Christmas from the States.

    1. As long as you have K3, it should work. You don’t need to unzip the .BIN file, just drag it into the root directory where all of the other folders on your Kindle are. If you inadvertantly drag the BIN file into one of teh subfolders, the update won’t work.

      Once the file is added to the root, you go back to the HOME page, hit MENU, then SETTINGS, then MENU once more. If teh BIN file is installed in the root directory properly, you’ll see the UPDATE YOUR KINDLE in BLACK, not graye-out.

      Scroll to that line, hit the middle of the 5-way (enter) and it should work.

      If all of this doesn’t help, call Amazon tech support.


  18. You what’s ingenious about this update? It gives customers another reason to stick to the Amazon store. Especially if they get around to updating older titles, even the public domain sites will look less attractive.

    1. That’s funny, it kind of makes me want to stop using Amazon, I haven’t bought many books there, but I plan on publishing some through the KDP. It’s unrealized how independent publishers are going to include page numbers in their ebooks, which have no need of page numbers.

      Page numbers are for paper.

  19. It’s a worthwhile enhancement. I wish epub, along with ebook library access, was next! That’s one less issue on the “what Amazon Kindle doesn’t have, but should have” list. ’nuff said.

      1. Possibly the reason Amazon is dragging its feet on allowing user screensavers is its fear that users would download large graphics files (and more than one, in order to vary the screensavers over time).

  20. I’m extremely disappointed that the folks at Amazon Kindle don’t feel the need to provide software updates and new accessories for earlier versions of Kindle. I have the 2nd generation and love it but feel like a disowned customer. When I consider upgrading my eReader I might as well consider other devices since clearly my loyalty is unimportant to Amazon demonstrated by the lack of service to their earlier customers..

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