It is surprisingly pleasant to read electronic books on the Kindle Reader application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
While on vacation recently, I finally had the time to try out the Kindle reader on my iPod Touch — and I love it. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, the Kindle reader app is a free download, and I recommend it.
I do not own a Kindle device. However, I regularly use my iPod Touch, and some months ago I had downloaded the Kindle Reader app to my Touch. I would see the button for it every time I turned on my Touch, but until a few weeks ago had not bothered to try it.
Why not? Well, I had some reservations.
One of my reservations was resistance — resistance to the idea of reading with an electronic gadget instead of paper. Would it be as satisfying as the tactile feel of holding a book and turning pages?
But my biggest reservation was over the relatively small size of the iPod Touch screen. How comfortable would it be to peer at a 3.5 inch screen and read? (The regular Kindle has a 6″ screen, while the Kindle DX is 9.7″.)
Once I tried it, I was hooked. Just like with watching videos on my iPod Touch, you soon get used to the size of the screen. After a few minutes it’s just you and your Touch. Once you start reading and concentrating, you’ll find the screen size becomes less of an issue. In fact, as I will explain below, the small size makes the iPhone reader more convenient and portable than a Kindle. In some senses, the small size is an advantage.
What I Like About It
(1) The experience is like having a bookstore in your pocket. Currently the Kindle Store at Amazon has over 300,000 books. But be forewarned — it is so easy, it is almost too easy to purchase books. I purchased half a dozen books in about 10 minutes, dropping around $60. Wouldn’t want to keep that up all day or you’d soon go broke.
(2) To purchase books, you just need a WiFi connection in the case of the Touch. You will be connected with the Kindle Store on Amazon. You can use your Kindle account on Amazon to sync up your book purchases on both your Kindle device if you have one, and your iPhone/Touch. If you do not have a Kindle account, you can quickly set one up. I logged in using my existing Amazon account.
(3) Get new releases faster. I bought David Faber’s brand new book “And Then The Roof Caved In” about the financial crisis last fall, and literally had it in one minute without waiting 3 or 4 days for the book to arrive from Amazon.
(4) Books can be cheaper. The Kindle version of Faber’s book cost me $9.99, about $7 cheaper than the hardback release. If you read a lot of books, it adds up.
(5) I didn’t have to shell out $299 for the Kindle device. While the iPhone version lacks some of the features of the real Kindle, the free price tag is hard to beat. And it’s fewer gadgets to mess with.
(6) The screen is backlit. This makes for strong contrast and ease of reading. In this respect, the iPhone app may be superior to the Kindle. Also, I am able to read outside on my deck even at dusk. I can also read at night on a plane or in the car as a passenger, without attaching a bulky booklight.
(7) Flipping pages is really easy — just swipe the screen lightly with your finger. You can change the font size (5 sizes), bookmark pages for later references, and search the Table of Contents. Entries in the Table of Contents are hot-linked, so you can touch a chapter title, for instance, and jump immediately to that chapter without scrolling. A bigger screen would make it a little easier to read, but I didn’t find the small Touch screen to be annoying.
(8) It saves your place automatically so you can pick up reading wherever you left off. This makes it really convenient to read a couple of pages while waiting at the dentist’s office or standing in line at the airport check-in counter.
(9) It lacks features of some better reader apps for iPhone. But with the Kindle app you get access to the large and rapidly growing Amazon Kindle library.
(10) It’s small enough to slip into a pocket, purse or briefcase and take anywhere. Aside from the free price tag, this is perhaps its best feature. Now that I bought a couple of backup batteries for the Touch, I can read for hours.
What Could Be Better About It
One of the features of the standard Kindle is that you can read newspapers, magazines and blogs. Prices for these periodicals range from $0.79 for a single day’s edition of a newspaper, to $0.99 – $1.99 for a monthly blog subscription, with a 14-day free trial of most blogs. However, don’t expect to get these kinds of publications with the iPhone/Touch app. When I attempted to try out the Marketing Professor blog on Kindle, I got this message:
“Anita, we currently only show an iPhone or iPod touch registered to your Amazon account. Periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not available on Kindle for iPhone at this time.”
In addition, the Kindle app for iPhone lacks some of the advanced features of the Kindle device. For instance, the iPhone does not read aloud, allow you to perform searches, look up words in a dictionary, or highlight text.
Also, the size is both a benefit and a detraction. Lugging around paperbacks while traveling is clunky. It’s a real convenience to have several books on a device small enough to tuck into my pocket, purse or briefcase. But while I was able to get used to the size of the screen within a few minutes, I’m sure it would be more pleasant to read on a larger Kindle device.
I’m convinced that the future of reading will be on electronic devices — although print books will never go away completely, at least not in my lifetime. If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, the free Kindle reader app for iPhone is definitely worth downloading.
Thanks for that fantastic review, Anita! This is something I would definitely be interested in. It sounds like the iTouch has a lot of the same features as an iPhone — without the phone. I had been holding out for the iPhone to come out on Verizon, but maybe I’ll start thinking about the iTouch with all these cool applications.
Glad you liked it, Ivana.
I like my Touch — it’s my personal entertainment device when I travel, with music, sudoku, movies and — now — books. I no longer fuss over airport waits because I’m not bored.
It also serves as a PDA. It has my Outlook calendar and contacts. It lets me access Gmail, too. Plus a calculator, clock, alarm and a lot more.
It also lets me check Internet sites, get maps, and so on.
Now if I just could access Word documents on it ….
I have a 1st generation Kindle and have been quite pleased with it. I would really like the Kindle DX (even the original Kindle screen is too small for my taste) but I wholeheartedly agree that electronic reading devices are here to stay.
I’m with you Ivana, I wish Verizon would get the iPhone too. Great review though. I’ve been considering buying a Kindle reader for some time now. I read 3 to 4 books a month and I stack the ones I’m finished with in my office. I have about 2 dozen stacked with nothing to do with them. I usually put together a whole box and sell them on Ebay as one lot. I just don’t have enough time to do that lately so they keep stacking up. An electronic reader would save me all the hassle.
I have to get an iPhone (touch) sooner or later… 😉 Shouldn’t you be able to access word documents through Google docs?
Here is a tip for your next trip, from Steve Rubel’s post, Five Gadgets for the Social Technology Addicted.
“Seskimo Crabble ($5.00 – seskimo.com) – Finally this handy little tool, which Mac nut David Chartier turned me onto, props up any phone or iPod and makes watching video on a seat tray a pleasure. It folds and fits in your wallet too.”
Anita, I almost bought a netbook after that review and now I’m ready to buy an iPod Touch! I’m with you on the move to digital reading. We will see fewer print books in our lifetimes.
The main reason I want to get the Touch is not just the Kindle app, but I could then use it as a cell phone with Skype… I’m nearly always in a wifi hotspot and the Touch has a microphone device you can get and turn it into a low cost iPhone…
Anita, I agree with you about the future will be reading on electronic devices.
At the moment Kindle is not available in Aust, so can’t use the app. Shame we have to miss out as I would buy it.
Reminds me of a Star Trek episode. A crew member would provide a report to the captain on an electronic device. I often wondered what the captain did with the device afterwards. Did he (Picard) or she (Janeway) give it back? Or did it get recycled? They never said…
I have been dilly dallying with the idea of buying an iPhone because the price of an iPhone is still very high in India. But it seems to have a lot of functionality I need to perform my tasks better and use my time better. You just added one more. Thanks!
Thanks Anita. I didn’t realize there were so many similarities between the two. Love the review and thanks for the info.
Amanda, you point out another advantage of Kindle books — no paper books to dispose of when your bookshelves get filled up.
Martin, I’ll have to try that little tool. I could use one of those for traveling. Right now I hold the Touch in the palm of my hand.
Robert, It is a small screen on the Touch. But as I said, once you get started reading on it, you don’t mind the small screen much. And I find I am always fidgeting with books. Hardback books can be heavy and bulky (can’t read one on a plane — not enough room). Paperbacks can be difficult to keep open — they have a tendency to want to keep closing shut on me, unless I snap open the spine.
Has anyone tried to download a book on their iTouch while they are in a WiFi area outside the US? Does it work?
great comparisons done for iphone and ipod touch, it will be thrilling to note growing share of iphones in coming years.
Anita, I think that little tool will do it.
TJ: I am interested to hear more how you could make a “mash-up” iphone with itouch + skype. Please tell me more. Where are you located with so many wifi spots around?
http://read-me-dot-text.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-get-gmail-on-iphone-or-ipod.html. i found this blog very helpful because it lists down the step-by-step configuration of Gmail in iPhone and in iPod touch.
I LOVE my iPod Touch but I’ve recently considered purchasing the Kindle to try to pare down my library and avoid taking up space with tech books that i need for my job. Now that the Kindle App is available, it’s case closed. I have read books on my Touch and i love how small it is and how I can change orientation, font size, and page so easily.
I recently took a trip traipsing around Europe for 3 weeks and the Touch is truly a swiss-army of tech gadgets! All my hotels had free wi-fi inclued:
In one product, it’s a:
-translator (loaded Spanish and Portuguese language apps)
-world clock/ alarm clock/flashlight (with App)
-free international telephone (with Wi-fi, Skype App, -and microphone earbuds)
-ebook reader (I loaded it with tons of guidebooks)
– maps (I also had Safari book marks for local subways)
Touch with internet cafes: I didn’t miss my laptop for 3 weeks! And this is over $100 cheaper than the Kindle which does one thing.
My latest discovery is accessing ebooks and audio books from my public library’s website using Safari. It’s AWESOME!
So I have Stanza for the ipod touch and like it very much but thought about the kindle reader for other books the real question I have is if I get my wife an ipod touch can I share a kindle book with her? Although we don’t always read the same books there are some we do read the same it would be nice if we could share without giving up our own device.
Kindle can download not just books, but also journals, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Once books are downloaded in the Kindle, the user can read as he pleases, continuously or intermittently, without having to recharge the device often. The battery lasts for about two weeks when the wireless mode is turned off, and for about five days when this feature is on. Even with continuous reading, the Kindle does not heat up as other devices tend to, thus never distracting the reader in any way.:”.’
[Edited by Editor]