Want to zip through eBooks more quickly? Amazon wants to help you… presumably because the faster you finish a book, the sooner you’ll think about buying a new one.
Whether the motive is the altruistic spread of knowledge or crass commercialism, the company has introduced a new speed-reading tool called Word Runner that will be available on the new Fire tablets. It’s also coming soon the Amazon Kindle app for Android.
Like many other speed-reading apps, Word Runner displays just a single word at a time on the screen, but Amazon has come up with a few innovative features which could make Word Runner a little more effective.
First up, Word Runner will automatically slow down when long or unusual words appear on the screen to give you a little more time to digest them. Amazon calls this Dynamic Pacing.
Second, there’s a “brake” feature that lets you pause the word scroll by tapping the screen. Then use your finger to scroll back until you find the place where you want to pick up.
You can choose how many words per minute to show on the screen, allowing you to start out slow and then pick up the pace as you get used to Word Runner. There’s also a summary at the end of each chapter that will show you how many words you completed, how long it took, and therefore how many words per minute you read. Using this data, Amazon will estimate how long it will take to complete the next chapter.
At launch Word Runner will only work with certain Kindle books and will not be available for “personal documents” which you’ve saved to your Amazon account. In other words, if you send yourself notes or eBooks from third-party sources, Word Runner won’t be able to help you speed read them.
But if you’re interested in learning to read more quickly, this type of app is designed to help provide a distraction-free environment that keeps your eyes from scanning ahead or behind. Theoretically this could help you finish passages, chapters, or entire books more quickly… or make you nauseous.
I tend to be a pretty slow reader, so I’m looking forward to trying out Word Runner.
It should be available on devices running Fire OS 5, including the new $50 Amazon Fire. The feature should roll out to older Amazon tablets when they’re updated to Fire OS 5. But since Word Runner will be included in future versions of the Kindle app for Android, you don’t necessarily need to buy a Fire tablet to use Word Runner… you just need to buy (or borrow from the library) some Kindle eBooks.