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.

22 thoughts on “Major Kindle Update to Try to Get People to Buy More Books

  1. i am keeping my kindle practically continuously in airplane mode, so I think i will be able to live with this particular change. For that short period (1-2x / month) when I switch on the wifi, I think I will be able to handle those personal recommendations 🙂 Let’s hope the firmware in general gives some nice features and shortcuts as well…

  2. i am keeping my kindle practically continuously in airplane mode, so I think i will be able to live with this particular change. For that short period (1-2x / month) when I switch on the wifi, I think I will be able to handle those personal recommendations 🙂 Let’s hope the firmware in general gives some nice features and shortcuts as well…

  3. I’m confused by that Amazon page you linked. Are they *eliminating* list mode, or just making it non-default?

    I assume you don’t know, but if they really *eliminating* list mode, that’d make me seriously re-evaluate buying eBooks. (I find it hard to believe they are that clueless about the hardcore readers who account for an overwhelming percentage of their sales, but you never know.)

  4. I’m confused by that Amazon page you linked. Are they *eliminating* list mode, or just making it non-default?

    I assume you don’t know, but if they really *eliminating* list mode, that’d make me seriously re-evaluate buying eBooks. (I find it hard to believe they are that clueless about the hardcore readers who account for an overwhelming percentage of their sales, but you never know.)

  5. If you go to advanced options in the updated Kindle software, you can disable the new opening screen entirely. That way when you turn on the Kindle, you see the old list format as before (but in the new, lighter typeface).

  6. If you go to advanced options in the updated Kindle software, you can disable the new opening screen entirely. That way when you turn on the Kindle, you see the old list format as before (but in the new, lighter typeface).

  7. I bought one of the Paperwhites (version 2 I think) that came in two price versions, one with “ads” and one without. I went with the one with ads (about 4000 yen less) but perhaps because my Kindle has always been that way (that is the top half shows the 3 most recent books I’ve downloaded to the device, the bottom a row of book covers of books Amazon is pushing), it has never bothered me. Now, when I look at Amazon Japan, I see that there is only one Paperwhite (v3?) for sale, they having dispensed with the cheaper “with ads” model. So it seems that not only are they getting rid of the discounted/with ads version, but will be making the ads mandatory on the single model. Hmmm.

  8. I bought one of the Paperwhites (version 2 I think) that came in two price versions, one with “ads” and one without. I went with the one with ads (about 4000 yen less) but perhaps because my Kindle has always been that way (that is the top half shows the 3 most recent books I’ve downloaded to the device, the bottom a row of book covers of books Amazon is pushing), it has never bothered me. Now, when I look at Amazon Japan, I see that there is only one Paperwhite (v3?) for sale, they having dispensed with the cheaper “with ads” model. So it seems that not only are they getting rid of the discounted/with ads version, but will be making the ads mandatory on the single model. Hmmm.

  9. Not enforceable in Australia as it is in breach of the Australian Trade Practice ACT. They cannot change the function of a product after sale without rendering it “unfit for the purpose for which it was purchased”. If unfit they have refund or replace it.

  10. Not enforceable in Australia as it is in breach of the Australian Trade Practice ACT. They cannot change the function of a product after sale without rendering it “unfit for the purpose for which it was purchased”. If unfit they have refund or replace it.

  11. Just received the update notification by email here in the UK. Am I too sensitive or is this a threat: “If you do not update the device software by March 22, 2016, you will no longer be able to access Kindle services or get the update via connecting to a wireless network.” Who do they think they are? As Veritas said regarding Australian law, this is rendering the product non-functioning after I have purchased it.

    VERY UNHAPPY. Amazon are making the Kindle, the content and the distribution a proprietary monopoly. How do we fight back??

    • Wow, that’s surprising. So that means if you don’t use your Kindle often, and it’s been turned off for a month or so, you’ll turn it on and you cannot use it? That’s pretty harsh.

      Fight back? Buy dead-tree books. 🙂 As you saw here yesterday, Nook has just shut down in the UK. iBooks isn’t a viable platform, at least for me, because you can’t read on an iOS device in the sun.

    • My views exactly. Also i’ve just found out that future books would be available on that device. Not happy. Some kind of refund should be provided as compensation.

  12. Just received the update notification by email here in the UK. Am I too sensitive or is this a threat: “If you do not update the device software by March 22, 2016, you will no longer be able to access Kindle services or get the update via connecting to a wireless network.” Who do they think they are? As Veritas said regarding Australian law, this is rendering the product non-functioning after I have purchased it.

    VERY UNHAPPY. Amazon are making the Kindle, the content and the distribution a proprietary monopoly. How do we fight back??

    • Wow, that’s surprising. So that means if you don’t use your Kindle often, and it’s been turned off for a month or so, you’ll turn it on and you cannot use it? That’s pretty harsh.

      Fight back? Buy dead-tree books. 🙂 As you saw here yesterday, Nook has just shut down in the UK. iBooks isn’t a viable platform, at least for me, because you can’t read on an iOS device in the sun.

    • My views exactly. Also i’ve just found out that future books would be available on that device. Not happy. Some kind of refund should be provided as compensation.

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