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Kindle’s Real Page Numbers

We’ve seen a lot of interest from customers about our new real page numbers feature for latest generation Kindles and what makes them “real”, so we wanted to tell you a little more about this feature and how we did it.
 
An e-book, like a print book, is at its core a stream of text. In a print book, this stream is broken up by the size of the pages on which it is printed. Number these pages and you have a way of referencing any point in the book.  The text on page 53, for example, is always the same for every book of the same print edition.   But in an e-book, what looks like a “page” is a display, and the amount of text displayed depends on the font size that you as a customer choose, as well as other options you set yourself such as portrait or landscape mode, or which Kindle or free Kindle app you read with. 
 
We wanted to be able to display real page numbers that have value and are useful for those who need to cite a specific passage in a book for class, follow along with their friend in a book club, or simply point a friend to a favorite part of the book.  Adding “real” page numbers means we had to find a way to match specific text in a Kindle book to the corresponding text in a print book and identify the correct page number to display. 

With our massive selection and knowledge of print books, we were excited to be in a position to help solve this problem.  We had to invent an entirely new way to match the streams of text in a print book to the streams of text in a Kindle book, and assign page numbers in Kindle books. There are hundreds of thousands of Kindle books (and growing every day), so to handle a job of this size, we turned to our Amazon Web Services computing fabric. We created algorithms to match the text of print books to Kindle books and organized all of this in the cloud, using our own AWS platform.  The results of this work are stored in Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, where we track the complete history of every page matching file we’ve produced.   We even found a way to deliver page numbers to books that customers had already purchased – without altering those books in any way, so customers’ highlights, notes, and reading location are preserved exactly as they were.
 
Some other e-bookstores have added virtual “page numbers” to e-books, but we’ve found that these approaches can be confusing and often inconsistent –  they don’t map to the page numbers in physical books, and in some cases they don’t account for title pages, blank pages, and other nuances that we see in print books. We’ve already received a lot of great feedback from customers who like our approach.  Real page numbers are already available in tens of thousands of our most popular Kindle books, including the top 100 bestselling books in the Kindle Store that have matching print editions, and we’re adding page numbers in more Kindle books every day.  We want you to lose yourself in the reading, so page numbers are only displayed when you push the menu button.
 
We’re excited to hear what you think of our real page numbers.  Please let us know.

Comments

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Unfortunately this has not been made available to 2nd generation Kindle so I can't comment on how good it is or isn't but it would make it easier for discussions for book clubs where there are both Kindle users and non-Kindle users.

"We want you to lose yourself in the reading, so page numbers are only displayed when you push the menu button"

Except you show a progress bar and the percentage at the bottom. Either show all my stats (progress, percentage, & page #s) or none of it. OR - even better, let me choose!

when will this be ported to Kindle 2.5? those of us on the latest generation DX are waiting for this (and the new browser).

This sounds like such an awesome feature. I hope Amazon remembers their earlier customers and adds the feature to generation 2. Honestly, that would be HUGE.

I'm with Serafina - I'd love to see the page numbers at the bottom.

I love the new page numbers! it makes the kindle that much better BUT I do agree with a few others to see the book page without hitting the menu button would be a nice convenience!

@Serafina, @Daghain

This is just a complementary feature and I think we don't need yet another number at the bottom of the screen. The problem is not the Kindle position system itself, it is, in my opinion, the way the information it is displayed at the bottom. Without reading the user's manual most people would not understand the meaning of those numbers (prove of that is the big amount of messages in forums about the topic.)

Hopefully the Kindle team don't put yet another number on the screen!

I'm still loving my Kindle 1, but I certainly will appreciate being able to reference page numbers when I finally decide to upgrade. Thanks for the interesting explanation!

I agree that the page number should be shown at the bottom of the screen without having to hit the menu button. I never found a page number to be distracting in a book made of paper... but having to press the menu button is definitely an interruption to the reading experience.

This is great for your latest generation Kindle owners, but please remember that you have lots of first and second generation owners who would like page numbers too.

While the lack of page numbers was not a "big thing", I admit their addition is a very useful improvement. Since I'm not really looking for the number on every page I read, the effort to hit 'menu' is minor and not inconvenient from my view. I've had my Kindle 3G since Christmas, and I'm using it more and loving it more every day! Thanks for a great new reading experience.

The addition of real page numbers finally makes the Kindle useful for academic purposes. Now, if only university presses could be persuaded to publish more of their titles as Kindle books, we'd really have something. The beauty of electronic books is that you can search on any string, thus making indices superfluous.

Agree with Sam above. You don't need page numbers on every page.

@Alexis,

"I think we don't need yet another number at the bottom of the screen"

Keep in mind, they've *removed* the location number at the bottom of the screen. That only shows up when you hit the menu button as well. So the only number displayed is the percentage on the left hand side, and there's a blank space on the right hand side.

When I first got the upgrade, I was honestly expecting a setting for "show page numbers" or "show location", but alas.

To clarify, here is what the new screens look like:

Normal:
http://img860.imageshack.us/i/normal.jpg/

Press Menu:
http://img35.imageshack.us/i/pressmenu.jpg/

One question about these page numbers... how do we know WHICH print edition the page numbering matches?
Kudos on how you have implemented this! While the location is a better method, this page numbering will really help in many situations to bridge the gap between print and electronic publishing. Thanks!

I have the same question as Steve: which print edition are the numbers matched to? Page numbers vary between hard cover and paper back, as well as different printings of the title.

I love the feature, by the way. Great work!

My niece and I read the same books at the same time but finally I decided to get the Kindle, I was very disappointed that it didn't display page numbers since we were always texting each other to find out what page number we were on and the discussion would start from there. I was excited to do the upgrade and finally get page numbers and now I have tested it with my niece her using the paper copy and just comparing that the page numbers match and they do and we have done this comparison with several books with the same results

I havent noticed the changed, and I have a k3, but for me I like not seeing the page Im on. I feel that I read so much more and faster now. I love not seeing the 3 inches of book I have left to read, I like just seeing the percentage. Thats just me :)

I love my Kindle!

Kindles aren't like iPads or laptops... I hope I don't need to upgrade my Kindle to get the new features like this that appear to be software related not hardware specific. I love my Kindle 2nd Gen, would love to see this on there too!

I dont really care if there is page numbers or not, makes not a bit of difference. Is it gonna affect the quality of the book itself? No. What is however is the constant misspellings( like Im any better,lol)and the likes. What page Im on does matter to me.

I wish you could choose between the percentage read or the page number. I am old-fashioned I guess and perfer the page number

when will this work on Kindle DX? those of us on the latest generation DX are waiting for this and the new browser.

Real page numbers have not shown up on my latest generation kindle yet. Suggestions??

Love the page numbers. Next, can we please have the indexes for nonfiction titles, with linking so you can jump from a page number in the index to the text with a click?

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