Kindle now available on iPhone

Amazon banks on selling e-books vs. devices

Technology trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
March 4, 2009
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 Recently, I've felt a tad jealous watching my husband reading books off his new 10 ounce Kindle 2, especially on trips, during which I'm typically a pack rat when it comes to reading material. Now, that'll change, a bit.

Amazon on Wednesday made available a Kindle version for the iPhone.

In other words, it's now allowing consumers to read electronic books on their Apple iPhone, essentially broadening Amazon's Kindle book sales beyond the e-book device.

According to Amazon, the Kindle for the iPhone allows users to download books, including New York Times bestsellers, for $9.99. 

You can buy a Kindle book from your Mac, PC or iPhone through a Web browser and wirelessly transfer the books to your iPhone. You can also download the Kindle books you already own for free. Kindle for the iPhone uses Whispersync, which bookmarks pages so you can go back and forth between your Kindle and the Kindle for the iPhone. 

No doubt, with this move, Amazon's Jeff Bezos is interested in selling e-books, rather than the Kindle device. In the long run, it's probably a more profitable endeavor, as selling hardware is typically a low-margin business.

But in launching the app, Amazon is pitting istelf against Google, which has its own version of an e-book, which gives iPhone and Android users access to 1.5 million e-books.

From a consumer standpoint, it's nice to know that I, being an iPhone user, can now access and read books on my iPhone. Admittedly, it won't be the same experience, for the screen size alone. 

I thought I'd stop picking up newspapers and read them on my iPhone. But that never happened, because of the size. After a while, the small print is hard on the eyes.

The iPhone is a great device for reading emails, or reading news at times you're idle with brief moments to spare, like when you're waiting in a line, or in a parking lot, or in an office, or at the airport. But it's not something you can look at for longer than 20 minutes at a time, no matter how compelling the material.

If you're reading a book you just can't put down, with the iPhone as an e-book reader, you may find yourself having to (at least after 20 minutes of reading).

Here's a great review of both the iPhone app and the Kindle from CNet.


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