Amazon wants Kindle owners to take advantage of all the software perks e-books have to offer. So starting this week, the company is releasing a new bookmark tool that makes it easy to jump around an e-book and keep your place. By tapping a button in the corner of the screen, you can now more easily scan the entirety of a book while a small thumbnail of the original page follows as you scroll around.
The feature, called Page Flip, is designed to be the "digital equivalent of sticking your fingers in the book," says Amazon Kindle VP Jeff Kunis. He says it's made with non-fiction readers in mind, who often jump around books to check glossaries, endnotes, and other referential material. It's also effective for checking other sections of a book where you may have highlighted a portion you'd like to come back to. Page Flip allows for two different styles of viewing every page of an e-book — a more zoomed-in view and than a bird's-eye view. It's being made available for Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and the Kindle mobile app for iOS and Android.
Page Flip speaks to the delicate balance the company tries to strike when blending the freedoms of software with the traditional and comfortable act of reading words on a page. Kindle's core audience will always be those who love to read, and have likely spent a large chunk of their lives doing so on paper. So any new feature risks over-complicating the situation. Amazon doesn't want reading an e-book to be too similar to a news website or document app, or else it runs counter to the format's promise of supplanting print.
"Our mission and job is to inspire the world to read more and that takes precedent," Kunis says. The goal, he adds, is to innovate while "not getting in the way." In that sense, Page Flip doesn't override an existing feature or remove any aspect of the standard Kindle navigation. The feature is there, if you want it to use it. For those that don't, it disappears like all good software features should.