Amazon opens Kindle up to apps developers

Amazon is looking for third-party apps for its Kindle e-reader, in a move which might, just might, have something to do with next week’s Apple tablet launch.

The company wants its books to get more personal, and is releasing a development kit which allows the creation of active content.

It’s suggesting that people might want travel books that offer recommendations based on the actual weather at the time, or cookbooks that help accommodate all the gluten- and groundnut-intolerant children at birthday parties. Developers will also be able to use the kit to create games.

“The Kindle Development Kit opens many possibilities – we look forward to being surprised by what developers invent,” said Kindle VP Ian Freed.

There are some apps already under development. Handmark is building an active Zagat guide featuring its ratings, reviews and so on for restaurants in cities around the world. EA Mobile plans to develop for the Kindle too.

Starting next month, participants in the limited beta will be able to download the Kindle Development Kit, access developer support, test content on Kindle, and submit finished content. There looks likely to be a waiting list.

The kit includes sample code, documentation, and the Kindle Simulator, which helps developers build and test their content by simulating the 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX on Mac, PC, and Linux desktops.

Developers can sign up for the beta here.