Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


September 7, 2012

Slate: Amazon makes tablets better


PALO ALTO, Calif. —

But wait, there's more. Bezos also wants to make it so that when you buy a book, movie, or game from Amazon, it actually works better than if you bought that book, movie, or game from some other store. Amazon is doing this through small but potentially addictive features that will alter how we experience digital media. Take "immersion reading," a new feature that will allow you to synchronize an audiobook with a Kindle book. If you listen to the audio version while you're working out, your Kindle will automatically switch to the right spot in the text when you get back home and start reading.

Then there's X-Ray, a feature that allows you to see "the bones" of books and movies. Click on it in a novel and you can see a timeline showing where each character makes an appearance; in a movie, it tells you all the actors in a certain scene; in a textbook, X-Ray gives you an instant glossary within the body of the text. These features might not sound revolutionary, but together, they add up to a sublime experience. I bet that once people try X-Ray, they'll get hooked, and reading and watching on other devices will feel like an inferior experience.

And then there's Amazon's relentless pursuit of new forms of content. Its digital store now offers more than 22 million books, songs, movies, and games, with many of them available for free with a subscription to Amazon's Prime shipping service. A growing number of books make their way to the Kindle through Amazon's self-publishing system, which allows authors to bypass the traditional publishing world entirely. These books, which are exclusive to the Kindle, have turned out to be really popular — 27 of the top 100 Kindle books are self-published, Bezos said.

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