Amazon has released an update to its Kindle apps for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad that allows for the embedding of audio and video features within its ebook titles.
Now, not only is this a rather nifty little feature, it also raises two very significant points. Firstly, that the Kindle app can surely now claim to be the best ebook reader available in the App Store, even trumping Apple's very own iBooks.
And secondly it shows that Amazon considers the Kindle to be a significant brand, rather than just a hardware product. After all, the Kindle ebook readers themselves are not capable of these multimedia features (or even colour for that matter) and so it demonstrates that Amazon may well be prepared to let its hardware take a back seat as its software makes inroads into the app market.
The first books that take advantage of the new functionality are Rick Steves' London and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway.
"In the new Kindle Edition with audio/video of Rick Steves' London, the embedded walking tours allow customers to listen to Rick as they explore the sites of London", said Bill Newlin, publisher at Avalon Travel.
"Rick's narration adds depth to the reader's experience, while listeners can follow the routes more easily with the text".
Ebooks are definitely part of a huge industry on the rise and we're sure that their popularity can only be further enhanced with extra multimedia angles.
For example children, who are used to being able to demand the media they want via the web and their digital TV systems, will be excited that books can now offer them more than just static words.
It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to this release. Could we be seeing a revamped iBooks any time soon?
Let us know what you think about the release and also your own ebook preferences. Do you prefer the non-bright screen of the native ebook reader devices like the Kindle or are you okay with reading on a lit up screen such as the iPad? And what features would you like to see added to ebook apps going forward?