There are a lot of nice things about eBooks: you can store thousands of books on a single device, start reading an eBook on your Kindle and pick up where you left off on your phone, or read lengthy books without having to hold a few pounds of paper in your hands.

But there’s one thing that’s generally a lot easier to do with a book made from dead trees: flip back and forth between pages without losing your place. Now Amazon has a new feature that helps address that shortcoming of eBooks. It’s called Page Flip, and it’s coming to the company’s Kindle apps for Android, iOS and Fire tablets as well as to some Kindle eReaders.

page flip_01

Page Flip lets you tap a button on your screen to get a small thumbnail icon of the current page in the bottom of the screen and an overview of the book in the rest of the display. When you’re done skimming you can tap the tiny icon to return to the page you were on.

There are two ways to flip pages. One view presents pages in nearly full-sized windows, but allows you to swipe left or right to quickly switch pages. The other shows you six thumbnails at a time, letting you see the pages that precede and follow the one you were reading.

The idea is that you can now easily scroll back to double-check something you might not have been paying attention to, skip ahead to see how close you are to the end of the chapter, or move around the book for any other reason without losing your place… much like you would do with a physical book by using your fingers at a bookmark while flipping pages.

Obviously Page Flip will offer smoother animations when used on a tablet or phone, but the feature is also available for recent Kindle devices with E Ink screens.

Not all books support Page Flip. Amazon says it’s available for “millions of books,” but you’ll want to look for a “page flip:enabled” notice in the description at Amazon.com. This also means that you probably won’t be able to flip pages on eBooks that aren’t distributed by Amazon.

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