back to article Kindle update to add 'proper' page numbers

Amazon has posted a preview release of its next Kindle firmware, and it's bringing real page numbers to the platform. An obvious feature of an e-book reader, you might think, but no, Kindle uses "Locations" - large numbers that identify how far into a book you've got and which are supposed to be consistent across Kindles and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    My Sony PRS-650 already does this.

    1. Nic Gibson

      Re: Hmmm

      Your Sony Reader does this thru an Adobe hack to the EPUB spec which won't be carried forward into newer versions. Most publishers have already dropped the trick used as it stops the EPUB working on various other environments (due to failing validity checks). The page numbering it displays without the publisher including the page mapping file is based on counting 1000 characters and calling it a page - nothing to do with physical pages

      @Anton Ivanov - there are already citation rules for eBooks where no page numbering is visible - take a look at a recent Chicago Manual of Style.

      Probably the biggest problem is that Amazon have announced this feature without actually bothering to tell us (the content creators and publishers) how to do it. Most Kindle files are generated from EPUBs these days. I don't hold out much hope that they've used the page location support in the EPUB spec but it would be nice.

    2. Samuel Walker


      It doesn't.

      The .epub standard itself doesn't force page numbers useage. Although the NCX spec does support manually forcing page numbers, the .epub spec doesn't mention how much of the NCX spec must implemented. I can't speak for other formats.

      The Sony Reader itself has no way of calculating where the pages fall in a print edition.

      Thus it doesn't.

      What it does do is use an arbitrary system - Adobe Digital Editions for instance uses 1000 bytes to a page, when their own propriety format hasn't been used.

      While the .epub standards people have tried to clarify the problem. these changes certainly came after the PRS-505 was released.


  2. Anton Ivanov

    That is a key feature for the edu market

    At least some quoting formats for papers require books and other references to be quoted with page numbers. Without that a Kindle is useless in a Uni and that is a market which Amazon has been paying quite a bit of attention to.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Re: That is a key feature for the edu market

      Well, it does depend on the format, for example PDFs with the page number embeded are fine, obviously (and there's more accedemic papers in PDF than any other format - we'll in my experience, for the papers I use at least).

      In additon, if you are quoting page numbers and document refrence, you're probably writing something anyway, possibly cutting and pasting quotes, so using your PC/Mac/Linux box as a reader likely (probably using a native reader).

  3. ThomH Silver badge

    Rating books more likely to be for Amazon's benefit?

    You know, for the 'we've got some recommendations for you' part of their business? Which I guess is also to your benefit if you like to stick within your genres.

  4. Wheaty73

    Locations make more sense!

    People really are whining about page numbers? Hope they make this optional - I quite like the location / progress as it is consistent over devices and font sizes.

  5. Duncan Hothersall
    Thumb Down


    It is the people who produce the books who will have to add such metadata to their eBooks. And it is a royal pain in the arse to do. Sounds like Amazon is announcing a feature *enabling* congruent page numbering but deliberately not mentioning that it won't universally *deliver* congruent page numbering.

  6. Lottie


    These kindle thingies keep getting more and more tempting. I was very sceptical at first, but since playing with a friends, I have to say I can really see the appeal.

  7. AF
    Thumb Up

    About time too

    The location numbering has always been the weirdest bit of the Kindle experience for me.

    Sony have been using the physical book's numbering and it's worked perfectly fine. If a page is longer (or shorter) then the screen/text size you're using, you just see something like "Page 26-27" rather then the less meaningful Kindle numbering system.

    There's no reason why a page number can't be consistent across devices, the only complaint could be "Well, where on page 26 am I?" but that also applies to the Kindle system - you're shown a range of numbers that your'e "on", but you don't know which is the exact one.

    The progress bar is nice, though, but the chapter markers are only relevant if it's a book with ten chapters or so.

    1. Peter Lee
      Thumb Up

      Locations are still there

      I downloaded the update last night and after doing a resync on my library I found that the book I am currently reading had had the page numbers added (tip: look at a book on the Kindle store and if its details - e.g. ISBN - include "page number ISBN" it has page numbers included). When reading a book now the progress bar is still there, as is the percentage, but the locations and page numbers are only displayed when you press the menu button. As for their accuracy the page numbers seem spot on - I also own the book I'm reading on my Kindle as a hardback and when I looked at the page number the Kindle had me at in the text it turned out to be spot on.

    2. Duncan Hothersall

      The majority of page numbers on Sony readers

      are automatically generated on the basis that a new page is assumed every 1024 characters. Only where the publisher has done additional work to map in page numbers do they correspond to the printed book - and that is rare.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Actually, it isn't, if you read the Amazon release notes.

      1. Duncan Hothersall


        Actually it is, if you read the release notes. Amazon are adding the metadata to a subset of the books that they themselves have produced on behalf of other publishers. The VAST majority of Kindle books will not have this feature.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          That may be so

          However, it's not what you said in your original post. You said "the people who produce the books who will have to add such metadata to their eBooks" but they don't. Amazon add it, as they said in the release notes.

          Amazon don't produce the books on behalf of the publishers. The publishers produce books. Amazon have added the page data to the most popular books (first).

          The vast majority of books will not have this feature, granted. Also, they're apparently "deliberately not mentioning that it won't universally *deliver* congruent page numbering.". Except they mention exactly that. In the release notes.

          So, afraid I can't really agree with the points you made.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    page numbering

    "There's no reason why a page number can't be consistent across devices, "

    Remember a few years ago that we were mystified for a time as to why the documentation we produced with page numbers and table of contents/cross-references etc and then submitted to the document control system always came back when loaded out of there as PDFs with these references all wrong.

    I eventually tracked down the problem ... we were writing documentation on framemaker on Unix systems, we then submitted the framemaker files ot the document control system which internally rendered the documents into PDFs which is what people view from this system. Problem was this rendering was done on a Windows machine which had a framemaker install which didn't have the same set of fonts ... so it substitued for "similar" fonts but as they had different char-wdiths all the line splitting and pagination changed a bit and suddenly all the page numbers were wrong!

  9. stu 4

    pillars of the earth

    Lottie - yup - I finally took plunge before going on hols 3 weeks ago - managed to read about 2000 pages (4 books), including Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth which is over 1000 pages in paperback - no way I'd have been able to fit that in my case.

  10. Samuel Walker


    The question is, WHICH printed edition.


    Mass Market Paperback?

    Trade Paperback?

    1. Alan Firminger


      I think the answer to you is contained in the 'page numbers ISBN' reference. That will be followed by the ISBN number for the issue that is being matched. Could be plural.

  11. Bit Brain

    Forget page numbers…

    …I just want to be able to load my own standby screens without jailbreaking my Kindle. It's just screaming for a "Don't Panic" standby screen.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      DON'T Upgrade if you value your screensavers

      This update prevents the earlier jailbreak screen savers etc. from being installed.

      If you have already jailbroken your kindle so that you can use your own screen savers, then do NOT uninstall your hacks since you won't be able to reinstall them. You will be stuck with the appalling selection of dead author pictures, many of them highly obscure for those of us in the UK.

  12. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Yay Kindle

    I've had my kindle for quite a few months now and I'm still happy with it, as stu 4 note, it's a life saver for going on holiday, in one week I read what I'd think of as 6-7" of paperbacks (if they were all stacked up), but only had to put one small device in my bag.

    Of course, Calibre is a must (especially with it's plugin based DRM removal).

    My iPad owning friend was asking if I was tempted by a colour eBook reader, I pointed out that I stopped reading many books with pictures in around the age of 7 so colour isn't much use to me.

  13. Alan Firminger

    I don't have a reader

    So tell the world. How do they cope with (see p 94) ?

    1. bubba-bear

      Active links

      Kindle books can have active links -- you just click on the link to go to location 10587 (page numbers in e-books are bullshit).

      Some publishers actually do a very good job of linking so that you can go somewhere AND then go back to where you were. Cookbooks make heavy use of active links, as do active table of contents and indexes/indices.

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