iPad and iPhone owners using recent versions of iOS can now scroll through Kindle books, not just turn pages. Props to Amazon for heeding pleas from TeleRead and others. In another welcome move, Version 6.5 will let you resize your Kindle window in split view—so you can more easily use other apps at the same time while reading. To give one example, you’ll be able to see a book at the same time you’re commenting on it in an email.
Activate vertical scrolling simply by going to Settings for the app. Thoughtfully, Amazon lets you turn it on and off in Aa menu within the book you’re reading. Not all books will allow scrolling—the feature didn’t work on two books that I’d downloaded from nonAmazon sources. Public domain fans and others undoubtedly would appreciate scrolling on all books. What’s more, you can’t use the continuous scrolling to make it easier to select material that starts on one page and goes on to the next. Ouch! Also, there is no auto scroll, which I don’t use but which some users would dearly love. On top of everything else, the Kindle’s Android app lacks vertical scrolling. And how about about devices like the Fires? What’s more, due to technical challenges of the current E Ink, I wonder if vertical scrolling will come to devices like the Paperwhite and Oasis.
Still, I suspect that that vertical scrolling will reach Android apps and Fires soon. Meanwhile the scrolling option for iOS apps is definite progress—or maybe Back to the Future. The Kindle app for the old Fire Phone offered vertical scrolling.
I know. Some people will wonder, “Why the devil does vertical scrolling matter? Why did Amazon follow the example of Apple and many others in adding it to ebook applications?” Well, vertical scrolling is great for people who simply want to focus on part of the page and let their fingers rather than their eyes do the work. An individual preference. But many users these days use that approach for Web surfing.
Reason Two? If your cover or something else blocks the bottom of the text, you can easily work around this.
I’d like to add a third reason for Amazon making the change: it will be easier to highlight material that starts at the bottom of the page and continues on to the next. But when I tried a mix of continuous scrolling and highlighting on Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America—brilliant reporting and smooth writing!—I received the following error message: “We do not currently support selection and related features while reading with continuous scrolling. Switch to the paginated view to use these features.”
See why, after all these years, I’m as much a support as ever of an industry-standard format like ePub and why I loathe DRM? Why should Amazon dictate how we read a book? In Jeff Bezos’s shoes, I’d actually consider an ePub option, as well as lean heavily on publishers to replace DRM with watermarking, so books could be read on a number of devices. I’d still buy as many Amazon books as ever. Amazon would still be highly competitive on price; and all those reader reviews and other social features would still lead major competitors. Furthermore, at a time when anti-trust concerns are greater than before, Amazon would gain valuable goodwill that would be reflected not only in terms of regulatory concerns but also in terms of stock prices.
In Version 6.5, here are two other improvements from Amazon:
- “Pull down in library to refresh your list of books.”
- “We’ve added Kindle dictionaries for Arabic.”