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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amazon to add new features to the Kindle for blind and vision impaired users

On Monday, Amazon announced some good news for blind and vision impaired Kindle users. According to the news release, in the summer of 2010, Amazon will add two new features to the Kindle to make it more useful. The first addition is a font size that is twice the height and width of the current largest font size. The second addition is an audible menu system. The device already features text-to-speech technology but the lack of audible menus makes it difficult for blind users to navigate to the books without assistance. Earlier this year, the National Federation of the Blind urged Amazon to add this feature to the device and in November, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University announced that they would not buy any more Kindle devices until the devices were truly accessible to the blind.

In other Amazon news, Jeff Bezos recently provided some interesting numbers in a New York Times interview. When asked about the percentage of digital books sold, Bezos said, “For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition. It won’t be too long before we’re selling more electronic books than we are physical books. It’s astonishing.” Bezos also commented on how quickly paper books are migrating to their digital equivalents. “When we launched Kindle two years ago, it was 90,000 titles, and today it’s more than 350,000. We’re adding thousands of titles every week.”

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