Review of Kindle Reader for iPhone and iPod Touch

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.

Kindle for iPhone with Whispersync

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.

Book List on Kindle for iPhone app

(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.

Page on the Kindle reader app for iPhone

(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.

Table of contents on the Kindle reader app for iPhone

(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.

Changing the font size on the Kindle reader app for iPhone

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.