Amazon unveils new functionality for Kindle apps

A few months ago I predicted that Apple's iPad would kill ebooks as we know them. Some folks laughed. Well, it's already started to happen.

A few months ago I predicted that Apple's iPad would kill ebooks as we know them. Some folks laughed. Well, it's already started to happen.

Amazon has unveiled some new functionality for the Kindle app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, adding embedded audio and video to ebooks. Not only is the ebook evolving, but this represents a significant evolution of the book format as a whole.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves' London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.

"We are excited to add this functionality to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch," said Dorothy Nicholls, director, Amazon Kindle. "Readers will already find some Kindle Editions with audio/video clips in the Kindle Store today--from Rose's Heavenly Cakes with video tips on preparing the perfect cake to Bird Songs with audio clips that relate the songs and calls to the birds' appearances. This is just the beginning--we look forward to seeing what authors and publishers create for Kindle customers using the new functionality of the Kindle apps."

"We are truly excited to have collaborated with Amazon to launch Kindle Editions with audio/video," said Peter Balis, Director, Digital Content Sales, Wiley. "Innovations like these represent the advantages that digital can offer. Advancing our content in this manner is important for our authors and our readers and it will raise the bar on what digital reading can offer for years to come."

"In the new Kindle Edition with audio/video of Rick Steves' London, the embedded walking tours allow customers to listen to Rick as they explore the sites of London," said Bill Newlin, publisher, Avalon Travel. "Rick's narration adds depth to the reader's experience, while listeners can follow the routes more easily with the text."

This is killer functionality because it truly redefines the ebook as being a different animal to the book, which should help boost adoption. It also shows how Amazon's ebook department is more than happy to compete directly with the Kindle department, offering functionality and features that Amazon's own ebook reader cannot offer.

The Kindle hardware is toast.

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