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Have Your Cake & Hear It, Too: New Audio-Video Enhancements in Kindle for iPad & iPhone Books Go Beyond the Birds and the Beatles

(This post appeared first at Planet iPad.)

Maybe the best way to think of an iPad or iPod Touch is as an accessory for your Kindle? Or maybe you’re thinking of picking up a Kindle as an accessory for your iPad, now that the price has been cut to $189?

Horse, cart? Cart, horse?

Either way, it doesn’t matter. And reading ebooks on your iPad, iPhone or iPad Touch is getting more fun, full-featured, and interesting every day, and Amazon announced overnight that readers can now enjoy embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books on these Apple devices. The important thing about these enhancements is that this is not a matter of adding “How I wrote this book” or “Here’s the room where I write” videos to popular novels, which I frankly expect will be a non-starter. Instead, Amazon is focusing on an interesting selection of books for which embedded audio and video could really make a difference in what you get out of an ebook, as with these examples:

  • Together We Cannot Fail “brings [FDR] and his era to life like no other biography, combining the insight of noted historian Terry Golway with Roosevelt’s own voice in audio excerpts from his most memorable speeches and chats.”
  • Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song  “presents the most notable North American birds, including the rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker, with lavish full-color illustrations and accompanied by their corresponding songs and calls. Renowned bird biologist Les Beletsky provides a succinct description of each of the 250 birds profiled, with an emphasis on their distinctive songs.”
  • Best of the Beatles for Acoustic Guitar helps you “learn the trademark acoustic guitar elements of rock’s most influential band. This audio/ebook by guitar dean Wolf Marshall provides in-depth analysis of 21 songs including: Across the Universe, And I Love Her, Blackbird Girl, Here Comes the Sun, Hey Jude, I Will, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Julia, Norwegian Wood, Rocky Raccoon, Till There Was You, Yesterday, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, and more. 
  • Rick Steves’: Venice 2010 “includes 4 Venice audio tours: Frari Church, Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Basilica, and St. Mark’s Square, presented in 63 audio clips, narrated by Rick Steves.”
  • Lullaby Baby by Audrey Ficociello features 50 well known lullabies with written lyrics and audio tracks and full-color illustrations.

Although some publishers have spoken of enhanced ebooks as if they might somehow justify prices in the range of current hardcover prices, Amazon has wisely priced these new offerings at $9.99. Here’s the guts of today’s Amazon press release:

Amazon Announces New Functionality for Kindle Apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Readers can now enjoy embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books on their iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
SEATTLE, Jun 27, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves’ London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.
“We are excited to add this functionality to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Dorothy Nicholls, director, Amazon Kindle. “Readers will already find some Kindle Editions with audio/video clips in the Kindle Store today–from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes with video tips on preparing the perfect cake to Bird Songs with audio clips that relate the songs and calls to the birds’ appearances. This is just the beginning–we look forward to seeing what authors and publishers create for Kindle customers using the new functionality of the Kindle apps.”
“We are truly excited to have collaborated with Amazon to launch Kindle Editions with audio/video,” said Peter Balis, Director, Digital Content Sales, Wiley. “Innovations like these represent the advantages that digital can offer. Advancing our content in this manner is important for our authors and our readers and it will raise the bar on what digital reading can offer for years to come.”
“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, Avalon Travel. “Rick’s narration adds depth to the reader’s experience, while listeners can follow the routes more easily with the text.”
Kindle Editions with audio/video are available now with the latest Kindle App on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Kindle for iPhone is now optimized for iPhone 4’s retina display. For more information, go to http://www.amazon.com/kindleapps.

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