Updated software for the Kindle, and are e-readers good for teens?

Kindle Update

The latest news from Amazon is a software update for the Kindle.  These aren’t big changes, but a few things you might be interested in:

  • Public notes
  • Real page numbers (corresponding to an actual print version of the book)
  • Improved newspaper and magazine format
  • and a feature called “Before You Go” which will allow you to rate the book when you reach the end, look at similar books, or share a message about the book with your social network.

These aren’t features I care too much about, although I think using real page numbers might be an improvement over the strange page numbering system currently used.  Rating the book as soon as you finish it makes sense — and of course it’s in Amazon’s interest to improve its system for recommending books based on what you’ve read.

This is just a software update, not a new Kindle.  Readers anxious for the update can go to this site to download, or at some point it will be transmitted automatically through the wi-fi.

E-Readers in the News

In other e-reader news, the New York Times ran an article this weekend about how young adult e-books are a hot seller.  Does that mean more teens have e-readers, or just that more adults (like many of us) read the occasional YA book?  Publishers are thinking a lot of teens received e-readers as holiday gifts, given the timing of the spike.  Teachers also say they are starting to encourage e-readers in class for silent reading time.

I’ve been hearing for a while that kids are more likely to read on e-readers than paper books.  Maybe because they’re drawn to anything electronic, maybe it’s the instant gratification of reading whatever book you want, whenever.  Maybe (like for most of us) it’s the added features or the ease of carrying it around or the privacy of everyone not seeing what you read.

If kids read more on an e-reader, I say great.  Unlike games or phones, this isn’t one of those attention-span-killing devices that people are so worried about when it comes to kids.  I can read my Kindle for hours if I have the time. And yes, something about reading on a Kindle is just more fun, even for this old person.

I guess if I was a parent I might worry about not being able to see what my kid was reading.  But if you set up their account on Amazon, you actually have MORE information about what they’re reading than with paper books.  And honestly, I don’t believe in telling kids what they shouldn’t read anyway.

A good question might be whether BOYS are reading on e-readers.  Girls aren’t the problem, they are reading more than ever these days, but boys are more of a concern.  Most YA is heavily marketed to girls, and there isn’t too much taking the place of Harry Potter.  So if e-readers can get boys interested in books, then that’s something educators and parents should definitely be thinking about.

  4 comments for “Updated software for the Kindle, and are e-readers good for teens?

  1. February 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I like the idea that the new Kindle update will include page numbers. I understand their “location” system, since it stays the same regardless of what font size you use, whether you’re using a Kindle or Kindle App, but page numbers are easier to understand.

  2. February 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I don’t know if any of my students have e-readers–I’ve never seen them or heard the girls are talking about them, and most of my students are pretty affluent. But I’m on board for anything that gets kids reading more–I don’t even care so much what they are reading!

  3. February 9, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I like the page number update for the Kindle too but I actually don’t pay as much attention to the location marker as I do to the % complete.

    It’s interesting about the trend in YA eBooks too. I like how the article concluded with the statement about how anything that gets kids excited about reading is a good thing. And you’re right that it would be neat to study gender trends amongst young eReader users.

  4. February 11, 2011 at 2:56 am

    I suspect it’s a little of both, but still leaning in one direction. The adults that would buy a Kindle seem more likely (perhaps – this is all guess/gut thinking) to be the kind to read young adult literature as well.

    I feel like the young adults who would get an eReader as a gift would be more likely to read outside the young adult comfort zone. These are probably voracious young readers (otherwise, why explicitly buy for them?), trying to expand their horizons. Again – all guesses. I haven’t done any surveys to confirm (though that would certainly be interesting).

    Speaking as a young person, the idea of sharing what you’re reading immediately afterwards ties into my generation’s instant-gratification craze. Reading on an eReader (I have a Sony, but the idea is the same as the Kindle, minus the internet) isn’t inherently cooler, but it’s convenient and it has a lot of inherently cool options and side-projects (like lots of free eBooks or book-related social networking).

    Fascinating post.

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