Kindle 3.1 software preview brings real page numbers, more

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Amazon has posted a preview version of an upcoming software update for their latest generation Kindles (both the Wi-Fi-only and 3G + WiFi models). Version 3.1 adds a number of new features, but Amazon is crowing about three in particular: public notes, real page numbers, and an improved newspaper and magazine layout.

When you enable Public Notes, all the notes you enter on your Kindle are shared with people who follow you on Amazon’s Kindle site. The concept of following people on the Kindle is also new, but apparently Amazon really wants to make reading on a Kindle a social experience.

The addition of real page numbers, however, is probably the most important, and most exciting, new feature in version 3.1. Up until now Kindle readers have suffered with “locations” in their e-books instead of pages. This makes sense, since e-books don’t actually have pages, but it can cause some trouble in a classroom setting or when you’re trying to figure out how much more you have to read in order to finish a book (“I’ll go to bed in a couple hundred more locations,” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue).

So, Amazon has now mapped page numbers from the physical edition of a book to its e-book counterpart, and that information now shows up on your Kindle. Amazon also lists the ISBN of of the edition used for the pagination information on the Kindle item’s product details for two reasons: first, to let people know the e-book has “real page” information and so that readers know which edition those page numbers come from.

Finally, version 3.1 also includes a more useful layout for newspapers and magazines, which Amazon says lets you find articles you want to read in an easier manner.

The preview of version 3.1 is available now for the latest generation Kindles (sorry Kindle 1 and 2 owners). Amazon mentioned that the real pages feature will appear in their Kindle apps, including the iOS versions, in the coming months. No word on the other features, but I think it is safe to say they will also be available in the Kindle apps.

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