Kindle Update, 3.1

Kindle 3 with 3.1 Software (New York Times Capture)

Amazon announced today an update for the latest generation of the Kindle e-book reader, commonly called Kindle 3. Users can wait for their Kindle 3 or Kindle DX devices to automatically be updated, or they can download the software and install it themselves at:

Kindle Software Update Version 3.1 – Early Preview Release

According to Amazon, the update provides the following benefits:

  • Public Notes – In the interest of helping people become “social” about their reading, Amazon will allow people to share their notes and highlights with other readers. In addition to public sharing, there will also be private sharing, allowing book clubs or students to share their notes only with specific people.
  • Real Page Numbers – This has been requested from the beginning. In order to allow for what is called “re-flowable” content, Amazon, and most other manufacturers of e-readers, provide locations in an internal scheme that doesn’t mean anything to users, and makes it difficult for people using a Kindle to have close-text discussions with others, say classmates, reading the same book on paper. The Kindle page numbers will be based on one specific printed edition.
  • Before You Go – At the completion of  a book, readers will be invited to rate it or to comment in a more detailed way.
  • New Newspaper and Magazine Layout – Designed to give users a quicker overview of the content, and easier navigation to it.

These changes will be ported to other Kindle software-based readers, such as Kindle for Mac and Kindle for Android. I could not get any of the books I have purchased before to display pages, even after downloading them again. The new format for newspapers and magazines is a big improvement.

Genealogists should know that the newer versions of the Kindle (the Kindle 3 and the Kindle DX) can read any PDF natively. I find it handy to bring along dozens of PDF books with me everywhere I go, in a portable, quick starting, low power device that can go weeks without a charge. I am also enjoying Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative as an audio book from Audible (a subsidiary of Amazon), which I also have on my Kindle.