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Kindle for iPhone

March 4, 2009

Yeah, you heard me. Amazon has released a Kindle for iPhone app, available free from the iTunes App Store. 

If you have a Kindle, it gives you access to all of the Kindle books you have purchased, right on your iPhone, and also makes it dangerously easy to buy more. In addition, it has a feature called Whispersync: when you read a book on your Kindle with wireless access on, your Kindle automatically keeps track of what page you are on, and transmits that information to your Amazon account. With Kindle for iPhone, that means you can open up a book on your iPhone, if you are without your Kindle but have some time to kill, and can pick up reading exactly where you left off on your Kindle — and, of course, vice versa. 

If you don’t have a Kindle, Kindle for iPhone will let you purchase, download, and read Kindle books straight on your iPhone. For those who feel that their iPhone screen is sufficient to read eBooks, and want to read more recent stuff than Project Gutenberg or Google Books can yet provide, you can make that happen here. And if you decide down the line that you want a Kindle after all, all of the eBooks that you purchase through Kindle for iPhone will transfer over. 

For the record, I’m loving my Kindle more each day. It’s already increased the amount of reading I do, thanks in no small part to the controversial text-to-speech feature. I can “read” while I work, without having to buy a separate audiobook edition of the book. This is especially useful if no audiobook exists for the book I want to read. Multitasking and productivity FTW!

(Though, unfortunately, this feature may not be reliably active in the future, depending on the whims of authors/publishers. For the record, I think this whole text-to-speech controversy is retarded. I already bought the book, you already got the money. Let me read it how I want.)

From → personal, technology

7 Comments
  1. Ray permalink

    Its a smart move. Now the iPhone isn’t really a competitor, just part of the experience. That is, as long as the Kindle doesn’t suddenly get the ability to install Skype.

  2. I dunno about the whole reading feature. I see a point in that audio books are licensed differently and that they have contracts for people to records audio books. If it was one person reading one book to a single group of people, it would be one thing, but when the availability for anyone to have anything read to them at anytime without an audio book, someone was bound to get antsy over it.

    Rumor mill (read: no reliable sources) says they are working on locking the vocal reading feature for books that are not authorized by the publisher for the feature. (It is a little short-sighted of Amazon when Microsoft Reader already locks eBooks out of their text-to-speech feature if the eBook is not licensed for it.)

  3. One important thing, though: Is this that much different from the Writers’ Strike arguments: content delivery that evades license?

    • dorkmanscott permalink

      The WGA strike was about remonetization without repayment. The studios were looking to find venues by which they could distribute content for monetary gain — whether by direct charge a la iTunes, or using ad-based models like Hulu — without giving the writers (or directors or actors, for that matter) any cut of this additional revenue.

      If Amazon were charging an extra fee to activate text-to-speech for a book, without cutting the author in on that, then it would be similar circumstances. But as it is, I don’t see how the ability to hear the book which you have paid for is fundamentally different from being able to see it.

      And if by “rumor mill” you mean “Amazon.com’s official statement,” as I linked in the post, you’re right. They are planning to let publishers decide whether or not the feature will be activated on a per-book basis.

  4. Cody Smith permalink

    Mike, what do you think of the voice selection of the text-to-speech feature? The promotional video I watched on Amazon sounded like it was very “computer-voicy”. How do you feel about it?

    • dorkmanscott permalink

      Oh, it’s totally computer-voicey. It’s not quite MacinTalk, but still not totally natural. Although it is, apparently, based on a real person’s voice, and there are some moments where it feels less synthetic than others.

      Still, I would only use it for nonfiction stuff. For obvious reasons, the feature has absolutely no ear for dialogue or performance in narrative.

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