The iPad makes for an awesome paperless device, for reading eBooks, webpage articles, PDF documents and the like. The backlit screen makes for great nighttime reading, and the battery life is decent. Likewise, the Amazon Kindle Store offers probably the widest, relatively affordable selection of eBooks for iOS devices.
Since the first version release of the iOS Kindle reader app, Amazon has made some significant updates to its e-reader and online Kindle Store. But there are limits and challenges you need to know about.
Setting Up Kindle For iOS
To get the most out of the Kindle reading experience on your iPad or other iOS device, you will want to download these three Amazon apps: Kindle for iOS, Amazon Mobile, and Send to Kindle for the Mac.
You might also want to set up two Amazon web-optimized web apps for your iOS device(s) – Kindle Cloud Reader and Kindle Store for the iPad. Visit both of these links on your iOS device and follow the instructions for installing them on the home page of your device. I will explain shortly how they are useful.
The Kindle Reader has some useful new features that make accessing Kindle books a lot easier. First off, the advantage of using the Kindle Reader is that you can download for free the first chapter or two of a Kindle book, and review it at your convenience. Since it only takes about a minute to purchase and download the full version of a Kindle book, you can order a book only when you’re ready to read it.
The latest version of the Kindle Reader now has all your content in the cloud. That means you can access all your purchased books from Amazon’s server. When you’re done with a book, you can remove it (tap and hold down on the cover until the “Remove from device” pops up) from your device, and re-download it from the cloud whenever you want. Accessing books from the cloud frees up storage space on your device. Downloaded items also be read offline on your device.
In addition to books, you can also read newspapers, magazines, and PDF documents on the latest version of the app. The app now categorizes these items by kind. The Send to Kindle app for your Mac or PC is also useful for simply dropping a PDF on the app’s icon in your Dock, and it will be automatically sent to your device.
Downloading & Ordering Books
If there is a Kindle version of a book in the Amazon Store, you can simply click the “Try it free” button, or purchase it to be delivered to your Kindle account and iOS device. Each listed book in the Amazon Store indicates either in the Formats section or left side of the product page if a Kindle version of that book is available.
On the last page of free sample Kindle books, there’s a link for “See details for this book in the Kindle Store.” Unfortunately those links no longer work because of restrictions put in place by Apple. So in order to link to, and order, the full version of a Kindle book you must visit the product page for that book in the Kindle Store.
You can also visit the Kindle Store directly on your computer or your iOS device via any web browser. However, if you’re an avid reader, either bookmark the Kindle Store section of Amazon on your device, and/or use the Kindle Store web apps listed above. This way you can search for and download Kindle books directly from the store.
Reading Kindle Books
If you’re using the Kindle Reader for simply say reading novels, it works great. But if you’re trying use the Reader for study purposes, you might find its annotations tools inadequate.
The Kindle Reader features very basic annotation tools. It has a single yellow highlighter, a bookmarker, and small text window for notes.
When you highlight text, you also get the option to share the link of that selection to your Twitter or Facebook stream. The selection will also be found on your online Kindle account.
However, Kindle Reader is very inadequate for study purposes. You can review all your highlights and notes in a small pop-up window (“My Notes and Marks“) in the selected Kindle book. Tapping to a highlighted passage is not too bad, but it would useful to have different colored markers to differienate highlights.
When you bookmark a page, the review window shows the first line of the bookmarked page. It would be better if you could add a custom title or note for why you bookmarked a particular page. Finally, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are all thrown into the same window, making them very difficult to review for serious study purposes.
On the plus side, however, the Kindle Reader contains what is called an automatic Whispersync feature that remembers the selected last page you read of a Kindle book. If you are reading a Kindle book on both your iPad and iPhone, Whispersync will keep your pages and annotations in sync.
Your Kindle Account
The best way I’ve found to review annotations and notes for Kindle books is to visit your Your Kindle Highlights page where you can sign in and review the annotations you made in all your Kindle purchased books. Sadly, however, some publishers limit the amount of highlighted pages that can be reviewed online.
In the Highlights page you can actually copy and paste highlighted passages, which is something you can’t do in the Kindle Reader. Another option is to use the Kindle Cloud Reader, referenced earlier. It provides a slightly better option for viewing your annotations.
No doubt, over time, the Kindle reader will get more improvements. But in the meantime, I still find the Kindle the most affordable and efficient way to maintain a library these days. It’s a lot better than having shelves and shelves of paper books that are difficult to manage and store over time.
Let us know what you think of the Kindle Reader. How much have you switched over to using it? Which features would you like to see added?