One of the most amazing things that you can do with a modern smartphone is to read books. While e-readers like the Nook and the Amazon Kindle are very popular sellers, they’re not for everyone.
For instance, when I head out I’m already carrying my Windows Phone (and perhaps a tablet too). What I don’t need is an extra device in order to access any books I might fancy reading. Fortunately, Amazon appreciates this and has released apps mimicking the functions of their popular Kindle device.
One of the first apps to launch on Windows Phone 7 back in October 2010, Amazon Kindle is now available for Windows Phone 8 devices, allowing readers to catch-up with their latest literary purchases on the go.
With this app, you can read books from various formats, sync purchases from your Amazon account and even synchronize your position in each title, enabling you to pick-up where you left off on another device (such as a tablet, PC or even a Kindle e-reader)
What It Does
The Amazon Kindle app essentially serves two purposes. For readers, it provides a portable, always-ready access to your Amazon Kindle library, where you might have one or more electronic books (e-books) saved for reading. In all honesty you’re missing out if you don’t have any e-books as many are extremely affordable and occasionally free. Amazon also offers a “lending library” system, where titles can be “borrowed” for a limited time.
For Amazon, meanwhile, the Amazon Kindle app for Windows Phone (and on other platforms) offers the retail giant a means to generate more revenue. As well as being a reader, the app is also a gateway to the Kindle Store, enabling avid book readers to purchase more titles from the comfort of their handsets with a single click.
User Interface, Ease of Reading
Once installed, this free app can be launched from the Apps List; you can also “pin” it to the Start screen by tapping the icon and selecting the appropriate option.
After launching you will be prompted to create an Amazon account or sign-in to an existing one. With this done, you can check any recently read items, view your archived items (where books you haven’t synced to the device are listed) and access the Kindle Store.
When reading (books are opened by tapping the cover) you will find that the size of the screen is the only shortcoming. The app is responsive to page turns, while the menu can be summoned by tap-and-holding the screen. From here you can scroll quickly through the book via a progress slider, bookmark a page, alter the text size, color and page color in the Settings menu, move the title to the archive and even pin it to the Start screen.
What Files Can You Read with the Amazon Kindle App?
The Amazon Kindle app is restricted to reading books in the AZW and KF8 proprietary formats.
With a library of over 765,000 (based on July 2011 figures) books to choose from, you’ll hardly be short of things to read, of course, although bear in mind that you can’t use the app on a Windows Phone to read PDF files as you might on an Android device, for example.
Meanwhile if you have any other books you would like to read, they will need to be converted to the correct format using the Calibre software before being copied to your Windows Phone.
Syncing and Buying New Books
Bring new books onto your Windows Phone with the Kindle App is remarkably simple. There are two ways to start shopping for books. The first is to tap one of the recommended titles (these are selected based on your Amazon account’s previous viewing or purchasing history) or to use the Shop Kindle Store option.
This opens in a browser window and at the time of writing has been stripped right back to a very basic HTML view. I suspect this current look isn’t permanent – it’s certainly not particularly attractive! (Note that listed recommended books will open to a standard Amazon page.)
Syncing books are mostly done automatically, although you can force synchronization by swiping left of the account Menu and selecting Sync. Here you will also find other information about the software as well as the option under Menu > Settings to deregister the device from your Amazon account – useful if you decide to sell your phone at any point.
Why You Should Have the Amazon Kindle App
All in all, the Windows Phone Amazon Kindle app is a great alternative to a full Kindle device; it also compares positively to Kindle apps on other platforms.
Unfortunately, not every Windows Phone owner can install this app. For some reason Amazon is yet to roll it out to some countries in Europe, although US and UK readers should find it in the Windows Phone Store. Let’s face it, having electronic copies of your favorite books and magazines in your pocket is pretty useful, isn’t it?
Basically, this is a must-have app for Windows Phone owners!