iOS5 Showdown: Kindle vs. iBooks

As I continue to examine the impact the changes to iOS5 will have on my behavior with my iPhone and iPad, I’m going to do it in the form of the app I use today and the new app Apple would apparently like me to replace it with.  Second up: How I get my books.

Since the Kindle came out as a device, I’ve been getting my books in digital form from Amazon.  As a self-proclaimed premature adopter, I dove all in and never looked back. When the Kindle App came out for the iPad, I gave my old Kindle to my Dad and integrated even more of my life into the Apple device.
I love to read and have hundreds of Kindle books from Amazon. When iBooks first came out, it posed a small challenge. I love the refinements Apple put in – making it look like a bookshelf, the visualization of the page turning, the ability to adjust brightness within the app. All of these were things I definitely want in an e-reader app. So, I bought a few books from iBooks. But there were three big problems.

  1. Finding books on Amazon is easy. Finding books on the iBookstore – well – that was always a challenge. Searching was difficult. Categories were too broad. It was almost impossible to find anything that wasn’t a Top 20 bestseller (yes, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.) Amazon is all about discovery. With the iBookstore you had to know what you wanted and search for it SPECIFICALLY. It just didn’t make any sense to take a selection Amazon served up and manually type it into iBooks to buy.
  2. Apple’s selection was lacking. Even when I could navigate and get to the section I needed, the books I was looking for weren’t there. I have a broad range of reading interests – from bestsellers to biographies; from marketing to finance; from sci-fi to books about gay activism or gay fiction. I simply couldn’t find half the titles in the iBookstore that I could find on Amazon.
  3. We share our books but have separate iTunes libraries. This one is a biggie. My partner and I have separate iTunes libraries on separate computers.  We each sync our iPads and iPhones to separate iTunes accounts.  It has just always been this way, even though we got our first iPhones at the same time.  When it comes to books, I do a lot more reading – so it made sense to sync his Kindle app to my Amazon account. Amazon makes this easy – he can retain his own Amazon account, and only the Kindle app shares my account. I buy books. He browses what I buy and reads them from time to time. Easy.  Apple won’t let us sync separate apps to separate accounts.  It’s all or nothing. Combined with the other two issues, I gave up on iBooks.

Apple’s announcements didn’t really wow me in the book area. Essentially, they’re just making a better, separate area in iTunes to find books.

It has momentum and Amazon has my business and my library. I’m sticking with it.

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