Major Kindle Update to Try to Get People to Buy More Books

Amazon has announced an update to the Kindle operating system, which will be rolling out in the month of February. This update makes major changes in the way you view your content, but it also forces more “recommendations” – i.e., ads – in front of you, when you look at your Kindle’s home screen.

Kindle 2016When you view your home screen, you’ll still be able to access your library – surrounded here by the orange box – but it won’t be the only thing on the home screen. There will also be “Exclusive recommendations for you,” aka, “Buy this now!” at the bottom, which will rotate so you don’t just see four books. And at the top right, there are “Reading Lists,” which list books in your Amazon Wish List and any samples you’ve downloaded (Buy Me!).

The gear icon in the toolbar gives quick access to certain settings, such as Airplane Mode, Syncing, and brightness adjustment. And you’ll also be able to share books or quotes via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

All this looks like Amazon is desperately seeking to shore up ebook sales. Instead of letting you see just your books on the home screen, you have to pass through a vestibule displaying items to buy. Instead of only going to Amazon to search for books when you want, you’ll be exposed to more books each time you visit the home screen. You can naturally then see just your books, but it’s another tap, after your eye has been caught by the books at the bottom of the display.

I’ve always liked the Kindle because it doesn’t force books on you; you buy the books you want, and the store doesn’t get in the way. But now, the Kindle is to become like iTunes, with the store baked into many elements of the device. This doesn’t look like an improvement to me.