If you’re a book nerd like I am, Amazon and Apple’s iBook Store have made it wonderfully easy to download sample chapters of books from their respective stores. It’s sort of like browsing in a book store where you might flip to the table of contents and then read from the first chapter or two to preview the book and decide if you want to purchase it.
Amazon and Apple understand that browsing their online book store is not like browsing an actual brick and mortar book store, but their free sample book chapters get them pretty close.
Kindle For The Web
Recently, Amazon.com has made this book preview feature even more accessible through its Kindle for the Web Beta. You can now download the first sample chapter to your web browser directly from an Amazon overview book page.
If a book has a first chapter download available, you will see a ï»¿”Read first chapter FREE” button on the right side of the book’s information page. You won’t find this option in the Kindle book store, but on the regular Amazon book pages.
The free chapter downloads so that you can easily view and navigate its pages.
What’s really nice about this option is that you can also embed sample pages into your blog site, as well share the book pages via email, Facebook and Twitter.
As you can do with the Kindle, you can change the font size, line spacing, words per line, and color mode of the downloaded chapter. In the Safari web browser, the download sample is very smooth and easy to read.
Sadly, however, this Kindle for the Web is not very well optimized for the iPad. It will download via the iPad Safari browser, but at full screen the navigation controls are not easily accessible and you can’t change the settings as you can with a computer web browser.
Kindle & iBook Options
If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android, you can use the mobile Kindle app to download sample chapters to these devices.
You of course need an Amazon.com account to use the Kindle app. After installing the app on your device, you simply navigate to the Kindle Store and locate books in their Kindle version. Most current and popular books will have a Kindle version.
What’s great about downloading sample versions of Kindle books is that you can keep them stored on your app like a wish list of books to read. You need only pay for and download a Kindle book when you’re ready to read it.
You can also download the same sample chapters to more than one device, including the PC and Mac version of the Kindle e-reader.
iBooks Free Download
With Apple’s iBooks, the download process is even easier. You access the iBooks Store through the iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. When you click on a book’s information page, simply select “Get Sample” and it will download to your app’s library.
Let us know if you have tried any of these free download options, and what you find useful about them. If you have never used these apps, check out my How to Use the Amazon Kindle Reader for iPhone and iPod Touch article.