Recently Amazon launched two features which seem to be the answer to AppStore’s rules which forbid to place outside purchase links in ereading apps.
First one is the Kindle Cloud Reader. It allows you to access your Kindle bookshelf from a computer or iPad. There was a lot of news about it. What I can only add is that this is a nicely looking, but a poor alternative to native Kindle for iOS application.
The other functionality introduced lately is Look Inside for Kindle ebooks. It lets you read a free sample of a Kindle book in a web browser, just as you can read a free sample of a print version.
The basic problem iOS users have is that they can’t buy books from within Kindle application any longer. I’ve always argued that majority of such purchases were made from Buy Now links at the end of free samples, not Kindle Store button at the top right of home screen. Why that? If you’ve opened the ereading application, you don’t want to look for new books, but you want to continue reading, for example when you’ve finished a free sample.
Look Inside solves the problem of free samples in a much better way than Cloud Reader. Let’s have a look.
As I said, it doesn’t look I’m going to switch from Kindle app to Cloud Reader. The web browser and Internet connection is what makes it limited. Maybe in the long run web-based ereading applications will bring a much more friendly experience, but it’s not gonna happen soon.
For now on it looks like Amazon have created Cloud Reader just for the sake of having links to Kindle Store anywhere Amazon would want them to (and Apple couldn’t do anything about it). Actually it brings more mess as this is another destination you can send your book to [see picture 1].
Free samples were not synced across devices yet and Cloud Reader is a solution for that. The only thing is that if I want to read it on the iOS device, I’m offered a worse reading experience (web-based Cloud Reader) plus there is no sync, really, as iPhone/iPod Touch version is not there yet.
Free samples are designed to help you make a decision to buy a book or not. It’s actually not reading a book – it’s testing it. Look Inside is great for that purpose. If you’re on your computer there is no reason to send a free sample to any of the devices if you can test the book right away.
Another great thing about this feature is that you don’t clutter your virtual Kindle bookshelf with free samples. The ones you’ve already downloaded to your Kindle application can’t be converted into full-length books and the only way to clean them up is to archive them.
Look Inside is a functionality which is encouraging to read first paragraphs of the book before you buy it, so that you can add to your Kindle bookshelf a full-length book.
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Ask yourself a question how many times you use a computer to browse books from Kindle Store. In my case it’s as much as 80%, besides the fact that I’m a big enthusiast of using mobile phones to discover and read ebooks. Look Inside will be my primary way to read free samples, so what I’ll send to Kindle for iOS won’t require to link back to the store any longer.
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