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Appiphilia: Kindle content on the iPhone

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I just got a Kindle 2 last week. Though it’s very cool and convenient, I still keep tapping on the screen, longingly trying to get iPhone functionality from it. And I’ve stared blankly at my iPhone, wishing I could catch up on that next chapter in the book I’m reading on the Kindle while waiting in line.

For the record, there are other eBook apps available for free (such as eReader, Stanza and BookShelfLT) and for fee (such as Libris). And they have decent features and are worth checking out.

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But frankly, if you spend $360 on a high-tech eBook reader with 3G, you kind of want it to communicate with your other expensive 3G device. At least I do. (Our friends over at the Jacket Copy blog also gave the app a spin.)

Kindle for iPhone (free)

What it is: The app provides reading content that’s on your Kindle on your iPhone.

What sizzles: First of all, it satisfies my twitchy finger’s need to swipe ‘pages.’ There’s just something about being able to turn pages.

When I purchased ‘Twilight’ on the Amazon site, it almost immediately transferred to both the Kindle and the iPhone. In fact, over 3G with Wi-Fi turned off, the second book I bought, Toni Morrison’s ‘Love,’ showed up on the iPhone about a minute before it did on the Kindle. The new items show up under ‘Archived Items,’ and then you download them to the app’s home screen.

The chapter headings are linked, meaning you can tap on them in the table of contents and jump directly there.

One of the coolest things about synergy here is that the iPhone app asks you if you want to go to the furthest page you read on both devices. This means you don’t have to go fumbling through to find where you had left off.

Of course, it has the typical e-reader functions like bookmarks.

What fizzles: Books only. So I can’t read my daily dose of L.A. Times, N.Y. Times or Washington Post that I’m paying for. Then again, I suppose I could just go to the website.

In reality, the iPhone is primarily a receiver here. That cool feature that catches you up to the last page you’ve read doesn’t appear to transmit that same information to your Kindle. (I hope developers tweak that in later versions.) You also can’t buy books from this app or the other Amazon app, but it is an iPhone. You could log on to the Amazon site to purchase a book.

And it doesn’t read to you the way the Kindle 2 can. For that, you’d have to download Audible books to your iPhone or iPod. The upside to that is you get actual human readers.

Bottom line: If Kindle is the hardback, the iPhone has just become the more portable paperback. A decent introduction; can’t wait to see where this story line goes.

-- Michelle Maltais

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