Turn your iPhone into a Kindle e-book reader

Amazon Kindle Apple iPhone app
Less than a month after the debut of its much-anticipated Amazon Kindle2 e-book reader, Amazon opened its formidable e-book library to a much larger potential audience: Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users. By downloading a free app from the Apple App Store, you can use those devices as a Kindle-like reader that can download any title from Amazon's 240,000 e-book library, typically for $3 to $12 each. (Newspapers, magazines and blogs currently can't be downloaded, though there are indications this may change at some point.)

While the 3-inch iPhone/Touch screens are only half the size of a Kindle's, they're sharp and back-lighted (a feature the Kindle lacks), handy when it's dark and a reading lamp isn't an option. The multifunctional Apple devices are also easier on the pocket in two respects. You can enjoy e-books on the go without spending $360 to buy the Kindle or toting an extra device that weighs 10.2 ounces and measures 8 x 5.3 in. x 0.36 inches.

The e-books have been optimized for the Kindle's screen, which means photos and other graphics are in black and white. But I found the text and images reasonably sharp and easy to read. (Click on the image at right for a closer look at what an Amazon e-book looks like on my Touch.)

Since the Apple devices lack buttons, you turn pages with a swipe of your finger, which you'll do more frequently than on the Kindle since their screens are so small. And you'll want to adjust your Apple's screen settings to avoid the hassle of unlocking it every time you pause on a page for more than a minute.

But tapping once on the Apple touch screens produce the essential controls at the bottom of the displays for adjusting font size, jumping to other pages, and marking pages. (See image above.) One very convenient feature for those with more than one Kindle reader is WhisperSync. It remembers where you left off reading for each book, and lets you resume where you left off even if you switch to another device.

Downloading books on an Apple takes slightly more work than on a Kindle, though. You have to first order the book on Amazon's site (with your Amazon account) using the Safari browser, then launch the Kindle app to read it after it downloads. That took about a minute over our reasonably fast broadband connection.

—Mike Gikas