Amazon slips video into Apple's e-books

Print is so 20th Century


Kindle books will now come with embedded video and audio content, but only for those who eschewed the Kindle hardware for Apple's iOS alternatives.

Punters who bought Amazon's own e-book-reading hardware won't be able to enjoy the multimedia-enhanced editions - only those running the Kindle software on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch will be able to enjoy writing with the addition of moving pictures and sound.

Amazon has long viewed the Kindle as a software platform rather than a piece of hardware, only launching its own device because it considered existing devices ineffective for reading. But Apple has apparently changed that, so Amazon is now free to stick sounds and chunks of video into electronic books, even if it means those who shelled out for Kindle hardware are left in a technical dead end.

Some of the additions make sense – Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song obviously benefits from an audio component, but we're not convinced that parents should leaving the singing of lullabies to their iPad.

Since CD-ROM was launched computers have desperately been stuffing sounds and (moving) pictures into books in the hope that the addition of multimedia would make up for critical failures in the reading experience. But while it's easy (and often entertaining) to sneer, lighter hardware, better screens and longer-lasting batteries have reduced those critical issues to something more manageable.

500MB editions of Wired aren't a revolution in reading – that's technology for its own sake – but it's hard to argue that a book about birdsong isn't enhanced with a little audio. It's just a shame that Amazon had to shaft its loyal, hardware-buying customer base to do it. ®

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