Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Great News About the Amazon Kindle

Today, a story in the NY Times revealed that Amazon has just released a new app called the Kindle for iPhone. Folks, I love this app! I can now read the books of my choice on my iPhone purchased from the huge inventory of ebooks at Amazon. Sweet!

There are two limitations. First, it is only good for books, not periodicals. Some of you may know that the Kindle allows you to subscribe to a newspaper or magazine and have it delivered automatically to your Kindle. I don't care about magazines or newspapers on the Kindle iPhone app or on the Kindle itself. I'm only interested in books, so that's not a limitation for me.

Second is that you have to make your book purchases on-line at the Amazon website. The iPhone app won't allow you to download them on the fly as the Kindle does. While this is slightly inconvenient, it is definitely not a showstopper.

This is a great way to read on my iPhone, whose form factor I like better than the Kindle. With the iPhone I can catch a few pages whenever I'm waiting in a checkout line, on the subway or bus, or just have a few minutes to spare while having lunch. Since the Kindle isn't easy to have in your pocket, I far prefer the iPhone.

There are several other readers on the iPhone, including the much-loved Classics and Stanza, as well as the newly released ShortCovers. None, however, have the depth of content that the Kindle for iPhone app does, including best sellers and classics.

There is also a feature of this new app called WhisperSync that synchronizes the Kindle to the iPhone, and visa versa. So, if you've started a book on the Kindle, then start to read it on your iPhone, they will both be bookmarked in the same spot. Very cool!

Which leads me to the one suggestion I have for the iPhone app. I'd like the option of turning WhisperSync off on the iPhone. I own both a Kindle and an iPhone. My wife uses the Kindle while I use the iPhone. If we're both reading the same book, but we're at different places, WhisperSync can inadvertently make her lose her place since it will try and bookmark my position to hers, and visa versa. As a workaround, I've made sure that she keeps wireless turned off on the Kindle so it can't connect with the Kindle store, but I'd still like the option of turning it off.

Maybe in the future Amazon will figure out how to sell content via the App Store as well. For now, however, I am a VERY happy camper.

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