In recent weeks, Amazon have made a beta version of the upcoming Kindle for PC 1.19 release available to the public. For screen reader users, this is significant for two somewhat contradictory reasons.
Version 1.19 of Kindle for PC, along with the 2017.1 release of NVDA, will for the first time provide native screen reader access to book content within the Kindle for PC application. More details are covered on the dedicated NVAccess announcement page, but in a nutshell, users will be able to accessibly read and navigate through their purchased Kindle books as long as the books in question support a feature called “Enhanced Typesetting”.
To facilitate this new feature, Amazon have introduced a new file format for Kindle books which, until now, has not been supported by Kindle for PC. If you have version 1.19 of Kindle for PC installed and you download a book with Enhanced Typesetting enabled, you will receive a file in this new format. You will then be able to access the book using NVDA. You will not, however, be able to convert the book using Codex or any other eBook conversion tools. Based on minimal user testing, if you download a book which does not support Enhanced Typesetting, and thus cannot be accessed with NVDA, Codex will work with the file as normal.
So, to clarify the available options for Codex users:
- If you are happy to read your purchased eBooks in the Kindle software, you can update to the beta of version 1.19 or wait for the full release. You will need to continue to use Codex to convert any books which do not support Enhanced Typesetting to read them in alternative software or on other devices. Books which do support Enhanced Typesetting will only be able to be read inside the Kindle software and Codex will not work with them.
- If you wish to carry on using Codex to convert all your Kindle purchases, you will need to avoid updating to any release of Kindle for PC with a version number higher than 1.17. If you have not already updated to Kindle for PC 1.19, you can open the Options dialog from the Tools menu and uncheck the box which reads: “Automatically install updates when they are available without asking me”. For now, you can download Kindle for PC 1.17 from this Amazon link.
Please note: This post is in no way meant to discourage official efforts to increase the accessibility of Kindle for PC, and developers from both Amazon and NVAccess are to be applauded for their achievements and continued work into increasing eBook access for everyone. If you are in a position to do so, please help NVAccess and your fellow readers by testing the new Kindle support and reporting feedback. This way, hacks and unsupported reading methods like Codex will become less and less necessary in the first place.
Codex 2.1.1 is a bugfix rlease, no new features have been introduced. A big thank you to everybody who reported bugs, had patience while I figured out how to squash them and helped to test the fixes.
If Codex continues to be useful to you, or I’ve fixed an issue you were experiencing in this release, please do consider donating anything you can to encourage future development. Codex 2.2 will bring new features, so stay tuned!
- Direct speaking through a screen reader when books are copied to the clipboard has been removed as it was causing the application not to start for many users.
- Codex will no longer report a filetype as unsupported if the file extension is in upper case.
- For users without Kindle for PC installed, the Options dialog will no longer require a valid Kindle content directory to be set before options can be saved.
- An occasional crash when the author and/or title couldn’t be retrieved from a Kindle file has been safeguarded against.
- calibre and the included DRM removal tools have been updated to the latest versions.
As always, you can download this release from the project page.
It’s taken a bit longer than expected, but today I’m really happy to be announcing the release of Codex version 2.1. It brings with it a whole host of new features and improvements to make eBooks even more accessible and available, but before I tell you more about that a thank you is most definitely in order.
The response to the first public release of Codex was absolutely phenomenal. More people than I could have ever hoped for helped out by retweeting, sharing on social media, recommending the software to their friends, talking about it on their podcasts or blogs, and generally spreading the word in whatever way they could think of. As some of you may know, Codex is my first real software project, so to see people enjoying and getting so much from it is the best reward I could’ve asked for. The feelings were pretty indescribable so I will just say, thank you. Whether you wrote or spoke about Codex, or you just sent it to a friend or colleague, I really appreciate it and I hope that this version will make a difference to even more people.
I also need to thank everybody who provided feedback in the form of bug reports, feature suggestions and encouragement when they were able to read Kindle books for the first time or after they’d successfully converted hundreds of books in one go. Receiving feedback is great, so whether it’s good, bad or somewhere inbetween, feel free to share.
Finally, if you donated to the project, or helped out as a beta tester, you’re a big part of the reason this version is being exposed to the public today and I hope that its improvements inspire you to do the same again.
Now, onto the new features! Read more
A few years ago, I wrote a tutorial which guided people through the installation and configuration of software for the purposes of gaining access to books purchased from the Amazon Kindle Store. The guide proved popular, but it required heavy use of the command line, making it unsuitable and daunting for quite a lot of people, not to mention that it was an absolute nightmare to troubleshoot if anything went wrong. Which it frequently did.
Subsequently, in 2014, I started to develop a small prototype application to make the process easier and more intuitive, not only for people wanting to read Kindle eBooks, but also for me when people needed help. I named it Codex, a word used from the 16th century onwards to denote, now ancient, manuscripts in book form. In the second half of 2015, I finally rewrote that prototype to include the functionality I wanted it to have from the start, and the software is now publically available to download.
In this guide, I’ll show you just how easy it is to gain access to your purchased Kindle eBooks in any software application or on any device of your choice, using Codex. The application can process eBooks from many other sources, both DRM-protected and not, but access to the Kindle Store, a marvellous resource for blind readers, was my primary goal back in 2012 and that is what it remains to this day. Read more