Amazon Brings “Kindle” to the iPhone

by Bakari Chavanu Mar 09, 2009

Back in November, I wrote an article about an iPhone/iPod touch application called Stanza. I called this app, Amazon's free Kindle. Well, right before going to bed the other night I discovered that Amazon had released their own iPhone app, aptly called The Kindle for iPhone, (which also of course includes the iPod touch.) Though I was a little sleepy eyed, I couldn't resist downloading the Amazon app right away and trying it out.

I've been wanting to purchase a Kindle, but the four hundred bucks is not within my budget. The $9.00 price tag for an ebook, however, is certainly a money saver. Not only is the price right, but ebooks are just a good way to build a paperless library. So before hitting the sack, I downloaded several sample chapters of books through my Amazon account.

Ordering Books
To use The Kindle for iPhone you have to register your Phone or touch through your account. You do this when you first launch the Kindle for iPhone application. After registration, you're good to go. But unfortunately you can't browse books through the Kindle for iPhone app itself. To browse books on your Phone or touch, you are directed to the Amazon Kindle Store via Safari. Well, browsing the store on the iPhone or touch is a little cumbersome and time consuming. It's best to browse the Kindle Store on your larger desktop or laptop screen. So that's what I did.

The beauty of the Kindle Store is similar to the iTunes Music store in that you can download samples chapters of books you're interested in before your purchase. Because your Phone or touch is registered to your account, you can have sample chapters sent wirelessly to your mobile device. It's a single click process, and when you relaunch the Kindle for iPhone, your sample chapters or ordered books downloaded to your device. The sample chapter feature of the Kindle Store is simply the closest you get to the experience of previewing a book at a book store. And deciding to purchase and download the book is another added plus, because it means not waiting for the book to arrive in the mail, and it also means one less book taking up space on your bookshelf. 

So I had been wanting to order and read a new book titled, Why Evolution is True, by Jerry A. Coyne. I downloaded the sample chapters, and after quickly reading them, I ordered the book through the Kindle for iPhone app. That process works just like the "Buy now with 1-Click" on Amazon. When the download process begins you still have the opportunity to cancel it if you quickly change your mind before the download process is complete. The download process I believe was under a minute and it worked flawlessly.

The Reading Experience
First off, if you have used a few other iPhone app ebook readers like Stanza or eReader, you'll find Kindle for iPhone lacking by comparison. But the Kindle for iPhone basic interface won't keep you from using the app. All your downloaded chapters and books can be browsed by Recent view, Title, or Author. You can also delete or archive books and chapters on the Home page. You can change the font size of books, but other than that there's no other options for changing the application's interface. 

When you re-open a book, it returns you to the last page you read. You "turn pages" by flipping back and forth on the screen. If you tap on the center of the screen, you get a set of tools that include bookmarking a page, jumping to pre-defined locations in the book, and returning to the last page read if you've jumped to another location. There's also a button called Whispersync that manually synchronizes your notes, bookmarks, and last location between your Phone/touch and your Kindle, if you have one. Unfortunately while you can bookmark pages on the Phone/touch app, you can't annotate pages as you can with the Kindle. You can only download notes typed on your Kindle.

There's also a slider bar that you can use to navigate the pages, but the number of "pages" of an ebook on mobile device can  be very high. The current book I'm reading on my touch runs 5444 pages. So using the navigation bar is not that helpful for getting to specific pages. It's best that you manually enter a page location number and jump to it using the tool for pre-defined locations. This tool also can take you straight to a book's table of contents, the first page, the front cover. I was surprised that for the book I'm currently reading, the keywords in the index do not link to their respective pages. There's also no search feature or the ability to read in landscape mode, though I'm not sure why anyone would want to read a book this way given the even smaller screen area in horizontal view.

Despite it's lack of features, however, I'm finding that reading books using Amazon's app to be pretty easy. I'm accustomed to reading non-fiction with a pen in my hand for jotting notes in the margin, but I'm now realizing that this actually slows down my reading. I can simply bookmark pages and return to them if needed. Plus the backlighting of the iPhone and touch make for great bedtime reading.

I also have realized that the best way to return to a page you were reading is to not close out the application. It's better to put the Phone or touch to sleep and when you re-awaken it, it directly opens to the page you left off on. 

Sure, the Kindle for iPhone is sort of a watered down version of the Kindle itself, but Amazon's iPhone app is a great way to start building your and affordable ebook reading at much lesser cost than the Kindle. And with Apple outselling iPhone's by the millions, we iPhone and iPod touch users can happily live with a lesser version of the Kindle. My only question now is, what book sharing rights for your purchased ebooks? Does Amazon get a free pass on this?


  • With this addition, you can read Kindle books at your iPhone. Plus, it has an easy interface that makes navigation and browsing easier. - GAR Labs

    Gar Labs had this to say on Oct 22, 2011 Posts: 3
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment