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Amazon Kindle audio and video ebooks: Only on iPad and iPhone

Amazon has introduced sound and moving pictures to the ebook, but not the Kindle -- multimedia elements can only be enjoyed on the rival iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

Amazon has introduced sound and video to the ebook. The new feature won't work, however, on Amazon's own Kindle ebook reader -- Kindle editions with audio and video are available to download from the Amazon Web site, but the multimedia elements can only be enjoyed in the Kindle app on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Among the first books to benefit from the multimedia bells and whistles are Rick Steves' travel guides, including one for London. It took us about 11 minutes to download over Wi-Fi to our iPad. Once downloaded, the icon for each multimedia ebook on the Kindle app home page includes a little AV tab.

Sadly, the multimedia elements aren't easy to find: there's no option in the contents to skip to the audio or video bits. When you do come across a video or sound clip, you can pause it or skip back to the start, but little else. The audio tours in Rick Steves' London consist mainly of Steves and a robotic-sounding woman reading the text of walking guides, punctuated by little parps of appropriate music.

Although simply reading out the text of the book seems a waste of multimedia potential, we like the idea of perhaps bundling ebooks and audiobooks in one convenient, interlinked package. It would be handy if you could seamlessly switch between reading and listening, depending on the situation: read on the train or in bed, listen while in the gym or walking home.

It's possible the next generation of Kindle hardware will be able to support video, but that would require moving away from the e-ink screens that make ebook readers actually usable over long sessions of reading. More likely, Amazon wants to offer extra features to stop iPad and iPhone owners migrating to Apple's iBooks ebook store. After all, what could any Apple fan want more than informative videos in their copies of Knitting for Dummies and Rose's Heavenly Cakes?