Posted by: Frank | March 4, 2009

‘Eh Books?

I am a fan of electronic books, or ebooks (sorry for the little Yooper humor in this post’s title) and I have read many electronic versions of books over the years on my Pocket PC. One of the oldest ebook stores on the Internet is eReader, which has one of the most sensible rights management systems for ebooks. Since eReader has a large catalog, it has been my preferred ebook store, but that may have now changed.

You may know that a little more than a year ago Amazon, which is the largest book store on the Internet, began selling an ebook reader called the Kindle and with it began selling ebooks, which they call Kindle books. Up until today you could only read a Kindle book on Amazon’s Kindle, but today Amazon released a free Kindle ebook reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which makes available the entire Kindle ebook library to iPhone and iPod Touch users.

I own an iPod Touch so this evening I installed the Kindle application and went shopping online for my first Kindle book. One of the reasons why you might want to consider buying Kindle books for either your iPod, iPhone, or a Kindle is that the books are cheaper. Taking a page out of Apple’s iTunes store playbook, Amazon is capping most Kindle books at $9.99, which can be a significant cost savings. The Kindle book that I bought tonight is A Devil To Play by Jasper Rees, which has a hard cover price of $23.99; I saved $14 on the purchase of this book.

Obviously, I haven’t read the book yet, and until I at least read several pages, I won’t be able to form a complete opinion on the Kindle iPhone application, but it seems barebones though adequate. You can adjust the font size and add bookmarks, but you cannot change the font type, the background of the screen, or have the pages automatically scroll like you can do with the eReader application. To move from page to page you swipe your finger across the screen, right to left to go ahead a page, left to right to back a page, which is not too dissimilar from how you may turn a page of a physical book. I don’t believe the Kindle has a touch screen, it instead has buttons that you push for moving through pages, so some may actually find the touch interface on the iPhone to be better, if not more natural.

The iPhone/iPod Touch is more portable than the Kindle, so it is easier to carry around, and if you own a Kindle and an iPhone you can take advantage of WhisperSync, which automatically synchronizes your location in the book between devices so that if you start reading on the iPhone and then stop, you can pick up the Kindle and open the same book to the same page where you left off. Some people might prefer the larger screen on the Kindle and I imagine some books will format better (technical books and newspapers come to mind) on that larger screen than on the iPhone, but still I think there will be many people who will find the iPhone/iPod Touch to be good enough as a Kindle book reader. No doubt Amazon won’t mind if the result is an increase in Kindle book sales from their store.


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