Another day, another announcement of a major Kindle software update.
This morning it’s for the new Paperwhite, now officially named Paperwhite (second generation). Version 5.4.2 is now available for manual download and installation, or you can wait for it to arrive wirelessly if you keep your Paperwhite’s Wi-Fi connected. The update includes Goodreads integration, which arrived for the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX tablets yesterday, as well as Kindle FreeTime, parental controls and cool reading tools for kids that have, until now, only been available on the Kindle Fire.
There is also an update for the Paperwhite (first generation), to Version 5.3.9. We thus learn that the old Paperwhite will not have the capabilities of its newer sibling, specifically Goodreads and Kindle FreeTime. They are on two separate software upgrade tracks, so if you are a big Goodreads user and Paperwhite fan, you will probably want to purchase one of the new Paperwhites, either Wi-Fi only for $119 with special offers or WiFi and 3G for $179 with special offers. If you are looking for a good home for your Paperwhite (first generation), I hope you will consider donating it to E-Books for Troops, so we can ship it to a U.S. serviceman or woman deployed overseas.
Once you have updated your Paperwhite (second generation), you will see a brand new icon at the top menu bar. It is the letter G and it stands for Goodreads, the social reading platform created by Otis Chandler and his wife and sold to Amazon earlier this year. Goodreads now boasts 20 million members, including, maybe, some of your friends with whom you have connected on the Goodreads site. They used to be available to you only on your computer or as an app on your mobile device, but now you can bring them right into the center of your Kindle reading experience, the book itself.
The most intimate part of the Goodreads integration at this point is quotes. While reading on your Paperwhite or Kindle Fire HD or HDX, you can highlight a quote and share it on Goodreads, with a tweet and/or a Facebook update linking to it on Goodreads.
You will see the G for Goodreads icon on the menu bar within a book that you’re reading, and when you tap on it you will see tabs for your Goodreads updates, shelves, and friends. If you tap on My Shelves, you will be able to do some sorting of your books from your Paperwhite, but only among three of your shelves–Currently Reading, Read, and Want to Read. If you have created other shelves, like Fiction, or other categories, you will have to move books on and off them at the Goodreads site or from within an app. You can also rate books from your Paperwhite.
I’m still learning my way around the new Goodreads capabilities of my Kindles, but my first impression is that I may want to trim the 153 friends I’ve identified on Goodreads. The Kindle seems like a more intimate gathering place, like inviting people to my personal library here at the house. When Goodreads existed only on my computer’s web browser or apps, a larger group of friends seemed to feel right. I will be asking Otis Chandler about this in my interview with him tomorrow for this week’s Kindle Chronicles podcast.
I’m very glad to see Kindle FreeTime on the Paperwhite before Christmas, because I have received a green light from my daughter, a Kindle holdout, to give my grandson, 7, a Paperwhite as a gift. I’m glad to know my daughter will be able to set up a Kindle FreeTime area for him, with a password and the ability for her to create a list of appropriate books for him to read on the device. She will also be able to View Progress from the menu and see how many pages he’s read, how many words he’s looked up, and how many books he’s finished. As my grandson makes progress–which I know he will because he is already a voracious reader–he will be able to earn badges with cute names like Book Worm, Over Achiever, Super Book Worm, and Serious Reader. He’s going to love that.
Cloud Collections looks very promising, but when I fired up my new Paperwhite with 5.4.2 on it, there were 34 books in the collection I’ve named Currently Reading, to match the books on that shelf in Goodreads. I usually have only three books in Currently Reading, and my current ones do show up, with black check marks next to them. There are also 31 other books grayed out, that must be in Currently Reading on another device. I will need to find out if there is a way to remove them, because they clutter up the collection. They don’t show up in the Currently Reading collection on my Fire HDX. I couldn’t find a way to edit the Cloud Collections at Manage Your Kindle.
So there is plenty to learn about these new updates yesterday and today. They provide important new tools for reading on the Kindle platform, and I look forward to exploring them with you!