Amazon Kindle gets real page numbers

Amazon Kindle e-books currently use location numbers. But real page numbers are on the way, Amazon said today.

Amazon Kindle readers can now choose to navigate by page numbers or location numbers.

Amazon Kindle users will soon be able to navigate their e-books by way of old-fashioned page numbers, Amazon announced today in a blog post.

Kindle format e-books currently employ "location numbers," which correspond to a specific block of text, and not the actual page numbers of the hardbound book. Obviously, this makes it tricky for those situations where multiple folks are reading from the same e-book, but at different font sizes. (In a book club, for instance, or in the classroom.)

"Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class," Amazon reps wrote. "Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to print books, which is how page numbers have been added to e-books in the past, we’re adding real page numbers that correspond directly to a book’s print edition."

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The page numbers will arrive in a new Amazon Kindle software update, which is expected to be issued soon. Users will be able to view both location numbers and page numbers – and for at least one prominent tech critic, that's very good news indeed.

"Bottom line: enough criticizing the Kindle or the Nook for the way it handles page numbers," David Pogue writes over at the website of the New York Times. "Neither solution is perfect – 'locations' or page numbers – because the problem is insoluble. The best we can hope for is a choice – and now the Kindle offers one."

Last month, Amazon introduced a new e-book format called Kindle Singles, which the company describes as "compelling ideas expressed at their natural length." The idea is pretty simple: For five bucks or less, users can download a 5,000 to 30,000-word piece of fiction or non-fiction. Among the first Kindle Singles releases are works by Jodi Picoult, Rich Cohen, Pete Hamill, and Darin Strauss. More here.

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