Amazon just introduced a audio and video to the Kindle, but the only way to experience the new Kindle multimedia books is on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. A baker’s dozen of titles already come in multimedia editions, including Rick Steves’ travel guides, Best of the Beatles For Acoustic Guitar, and Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds In Song.
Adding music or narration to digital editions of books is fairly straightforward, and given the popularity of audio books, being able to both read and hear a book should be popular for some genres. Video can work also, but I suspect that more often than not it will be treated as something to be tacked on at the end rather than as an integral part of the original work. I guess it depends on who picks the videos: the author, or the publishing company’s marketing department. Trial and error will determine whether people really want video with their books. In any case, the Vook now has competition.
The big takeaway here, however, is not that Amazon is making it easier for people who buy books to be distracted by something other than reading. It is that they are adding these features to the Kindle software which runs on Apple products rather than on its own more technically limited, black-and-white device. Amazon’s own Kindle reader supports text-to-speech and regular audio books, but not video. With this release, Amazon is expanding the digital audio books to the iPad and iPhone. But the Kindle apps on Apple devices adds a feature you cannot get on Kindle’s own device in terms of video.
In other words, if you want that extra feature, Amazon is basically telling you to buy an iPad. Of course, it would help if the dozen or so Kindle books that come with the extra audio or video were more of the must-read or must-hear variety.