iBooks Vs. Kindle – Which Is Better? [iPad]

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kindle vs ipadA while ago I wrote a post about places to find free books for the iPad. In that post, I compared the iPad to designated eReaders and expressed the opinion that it’s not a worthy substitute. Following some comments on the matter I tested the iPad again as a regular vessel for eBooks and was surprised – it does provide quite a good experience.

In my quest I found myself debating which platform I should use for books – Apple’s own iBooks, or Amazon’s Kindle for iPad. True, there are other readers such as Stanza, but for the purposes of this review I will focus on the former two. So which one is better, iBooks or Kindle for iPad?


iBooks is free to download from the app store and is probably one of the first apps one downloads when getting a new iDevice.

This is the basic library view of iBooks. Very graphic and library-like. You really feel like you have books.

kindle vs ipad

Your library can be searched and the search is live, so the results are updated as you type. You can easily sort your books and delete them to customize your library. It’s all very immediate and convenient.

ibooks vs kindle

If you want to read, you need books. In iBooks, you can simply access a store from the app itself and download loads of free (and paid) books. You can also download ePub and PDF files and upload them via iTunes or even e-mail them to yourself and open them using iBooks.

ibooks vs kindle

Being able to add PDFs is a nice feature (see here how to do it), and you can also sort your library by collection (books, PDFs, whatever else you want).

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ibooks vs kindle

As for the reading experience, iBooks tries to imitate a real book – “pages” and all. You turn pages by tapping the appropriate side, but you have to endure a turning page animation every time you do so. Page turning is rather responsive, but it tends to be a bit slow when you just load the app.

These are the default settings iBook comes with. I didn’t find this very appealing:

ibooks vs kindle app

After tweaking it a little bit, I got something I could enjoy reading. You can choose between several fonts, two font sizes, turn Sepia on and off and control the brightness. The menu icons are there unless you tap the page in a specific way to make them go away. Generally, I found myself reading with them there more often than not.

ibooks vs kindle app

You can easily search within a book (only the one you’re reading) and the results you get are very focused. You don’t get a lot of context with them. You can tap a result to go to that page, and the result will be highlighted.

ibooks vs kindle app

While reading, you can long tap on any word. You can then copy it, search for it in a dictionary, highlight it, write a note about it or search for it in the book. The highlight looks very real, almost like a real marker!

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You can also bookmark pages and then access them by tapping the table of contents button and then looking at bookmarks. You will also see your highlights and notes here.

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Kindle For iPad

Kindle for iPad is a free download from the app store. You can use it in addition to a regular Kindle or as a substitute.

The main library is dark and pleasant. It feels very eBookish.


If you want books, you’d need to register the Kindle with a Kindle account. It will then be synchronized and you’ll get all your books.

You can get more books on Amazon, or download .mobi files. The simplest way to upload these is to e-mail them to yourself. From the Kindle app you can also access your archived items and easily download them to your iPad. I couldn’t find a way to search for books in the library.

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This is the default reading experience. Minimalistic. I love it. As you can see there are no menu icons in sight (they disappear automatically) and no “pages”. Turn pages by tapping the screen lightly. If you want, you can even cancel the annoying page-turn animation. It’s just a white screen with words.


To make it even better you can play with the settings. You can choose from three types of backgrounds, 6 font sizes and also change the brightness. You can’t change the font, though, so whatever comes, you’re stuck with it.


Searching within a book is easy and quick and you get a full context for every query. Again, tapping a result will take you to the appropriate page.

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A long tap on a word will give you the option to highlight it, add a note or share on Twitter or Facebook. You will also get an automatic dictionary definition at the bottom of the page.

I wondered what sharing meant, but when I tried it I got a “Sharing not supported” error message. So when is sharing supported?

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If you make a bookmark, highlight or note, you can access them easily by tapping the book icon and going to My Notes & Marks.

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One of the best features in Kindle for iPad: you can read white on black. You can also make the font pretty darn big. This means you can easily read at night in bed without having the light on and disturbing whoever’s sharing your bedroom. Awesome! (check out this post to find out how to do this for iBooks).

kindle vs ipad

Bottom Line

For getting new books, iBooks has a small advantage – you don’t need an extra account. It’s also slick and easy to use and the library and annotations tools are great. But when it comes to the reading experience, I choose the Kindle hands down. For me, nothing beats the minimalistic feel of seeing nothing but words. And the night reading – the future really is here!

Which do you prefer? Or do you enjoy another reader? Share in the comments!

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Comments (23)
  • Johann2

    what about my EYES?
    readers spend lot of time in front of truly ereaders.
    I have kindle device and it is nice, and planning to go with kindle fire. on the other hand ipad is such a monster with features, so I dont know what to chose. I didnt know I could read kindle ebooks in Ipad. Money is not problem here, but my eyes.
    some advice?
    KFire come with E-ink too?

    • Yaara

      If you ask for my opinion, I personally prefer not to read on a tablet. You can set it up so it’s not so bad on the eyes, but I much prefer to read on e-ink or just real paper.

      The Kindle Fire is a tablet, so it’s not an e-ink screen. I haven’t seen one in person yet, so I can’t say much about the reading experience, but I’ve been reading some on an iPad, and it’s just not as good.

      But that’s just my opinion, lots of people read on tablets and phones all the time and love it.

  • WritingItRightForYou

    As a “gadget girl” I have an iPad2, iPhone 4S, AND an actual Kindle (and MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and Blackberry and Droid). That said, I use both iBooks and Kindle, but I use my actual Kindle the most for e-reading. The *real paper* functionality vs what you have on a tablet or computer is highly superior. I DO however, LOVE the fact that I can sync everything seamlessly on all devices. I almost never buy physical books anymore.
    Besides the *real paper* here are features and benefits to having an actual Kindle–including the sharing.
    That said, for those who are considering the Kindle Fire, you will NOT get the *real paper* functionality with that device–it will read the same as a tablet/computer screen. (I checked.)
    I also like the smaller size of the Kindle–it is truly a one-hand operation. I will be buying the Kindle Touch when it comes out…the keyboard and zoom on the present actual Kindle are cumbersome. That will be taken care of with the new Touch.

    But thanks for these tips about iBooks…I hadn’t known about all of the features you mention. I’ll definitely check them out.

  • David Segall

    Thanks for the article.  I’d like to add the following:

    1.  I also liked Stanza but, if you’ve upgraded to iOS5, Stanza is giving an error message.  Apparently, Stanza has been taken over or bought out by Amazon and since Kindle is Amazon’s app, folks aren’t optimistic about Stanza being maintained or upgraded these days.

    2.  For making your own eBooks from websites or anything for that matter, Calibre is a pretty cool application.  See http://calibre-ebook.com.   Calibre can do both iBooks (ePub) and Kindle (Mobi).

    3.  Besides emailing, you can set up a Dropbox account, download Dropbox app for both Windows and from the Apple Store.   In the Dropbox app on your iDevice, it may tell you it is unable to view the file but the right bottom button will allow you to select which app to use to open the eBook (ePub, Mobi and PDF).

    4.  Other ways of opening and reading PDFs are to send them to Evernotes and read from the Evernotes app, or open with the Downloads Lite app or with PDFReaderLite.

    • Yaara

      Thanks for the detailed comment!
      I didn’t know about Stanza, it would be truly sad if that’s true.

  • Karl Blessing

    On the iPad itself, I prefer iBook over the Kindle software. With Kindle you can pretty much only read something in kindle format (mobi) or from the Kindle store. A lot of books (Especially Manga lately) I get are available as cbz (zipped comic format) or ePub (the prior can be easily converted to ePub via Calibre). iBook supports the ePub format which I can easily sync via iTunes. Though I suppose I could attempt to convert everything to mobi as well, but I much prefer epub since I can drag and drop that to either iBook on the iPad or directly to my Nook eReader. 

  • TabgripforIpad

    I didn’t know you can manipulate the font/size of the ebooks. I’ve always felt protective about the almost inevitable extinction of physical books, that I haven’t tried reading books online.

    • Yaara

      I know how you feel, I have the same problem. But you can combine the two. I love my paper books, but there are loads of free and legal ebooks out there which are a fun way to start knowing the world of ebooks.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.