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.