Amazon has added multimedia content exclusively for e-books viewed on Apple iOS devices including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Starting Monday, some Kindle e-books include full video playback functionality as well as embedded audio.
Audio/Video Titles include travel books with embedded walking tours by Rick Steves--author of the backpacker's classic Europe Through the Backdoor--for European cities like Paris, London, and Venice. There's a Beatles songbook for guitar with musical examples, and a cake baking guide by Rose Levy Beranbaum with video instruction.
At launch, Kindle is offering one fiction and 12 nonfiction titles capable of using the new functionality, and every title is priced at $10. All audio/video titles must be downloaded to your Apple device via Wi-Fi and not over your carrier's network due to the larger file size.
Amazon has not added the new audio/video features to Kindle software for the PC or Mac or to the bookseller's own Kindle devices such as the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.
While inventive authors may try to take advantage of Amazon's new functionality in the future to augment a novel, the first uses of Amazon's audio/video embeds are decidedly straightforward.
Audio/Video features for William Styron's 1951 debut novel Lie Down in Darkness, for example, are similar to special features you'd find on a DVD. The Kindle edition features an inteview with Styron's widow, Rose Styron; a look at Styron's creative process with his biographer Jim West; and a video of Styron's youngest daughter reading a selection of the author's letters.
Historian Terry Golway's Together We Cannot Fail: FDR and the American Presidency in Years of Crisis features audio of 30 speeches by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. You can find all available Kindle Editions with Audio/Video at www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.
Amazon Gets Serious About Kindle
Amazon's new addition to Kindle books is just the latest move for the online bookseller to improve the Kindle software over its competitors. Earlier this month, Amazon cut the price of the Kindle from $259 xto $189 after Barnes & Noble announced a similar price drop for its Nook e-readers.
The addition of audio/video to Kindle for iDevices also gives Amazon a slight edge over Apple's iBooks application for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad since Apple's e-reading software does not include multimedia capabilities. It's not clear, however, if that advantage will last long. Amazon did not mention whether it has an exclusivity arrangement with publishers for the new audio/video features. If Amazon doesn't have a lock on the new multimedia functionality, it's likely only a matter of time until Apple equalizes the field with its own audio/video embeds.
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).