Ever since I got my iPad, I’ve been reading a fair bit through the iBooks app. Though the iTunes store has a really limited selection of books, the picture quality is incredible, so incredible that it actually makes me want to read more. I’ve quietly suffered through the lack of selection in the iTunes store for about six months. While I’ve found it so limited that it’s borderline useless when it comes to finding books I actually want to read, it’s still saved me on a couple trips where I’ve finished my physical book and not wanted to scrounge for a semi-tolerable airport novel.
It wasn’t until this week when I happened to be looking for a book that wasn’t on the iTunes store on Amazon.com that I realized I should give the Kindle for iPad app a try. Amazon offers a free version of the Kindle for iPad, iPhone and Mac (along with other platforms that don’t interest me). The Amazon library of books available for Kindle is orders of magnitude larger than the iTunes library. Amazon is generally slightly cheaper than Apple, too.
But what really makes this for me is that the Kindle syncs reading across up to six devices. I can start reading in the morning on my iPad at home, contine reading on my iPhone while I’m riding the bus to work, then pick up the book again on my Macbook Pro while I’m eating lunch at my desk at work. By contrast, while I can have the iBooks app on both my iPad and iPhone, it doesn’t sync across devices.
I do prefer the interface of iBooks over the Kindle app. The finger swipe page turning in iBooks is a lot slicker and more familiar than the Kindle app. I also like the built-in note, highlight, search and dictionary functions better on iBooks.
I guess I would say that if Apple dramatically ramped up their available catalog for books, while slightly lowering their pricing and adding multi-device syncing, I would prefer it to the Kindle app. But for now, the Kindle app is likely to be my electronic reader app of choice. Syncing and selection are simply too important for defining what an effective alternative to physical books is to be ignored. Hopefully Apple is paying attention and working to improve iBooks to the point where it is really competitive and not just the first choice of company loyalists like myself.