A Reader’s Paradise

Philip Elmer-Dewitt:

As someone who has purchased and read several dozen books on the Kindle app in the past year, I have to say that this sucks. The Amazon bookstore on the iPad was a reader’s paradise: A enormous library with open shelves that let you browse at will, check reviews and more often than not read the first chapter for free. Without that Kindle Store button, however, I suspect many users — if not most — will have no idea how to get started.

A quick aside: the 9.7-inch IPS LCD on the iPad is nice, but it ain’t no reader’s paradise. I think it’s agreed almost universally that the Kindle’s E Ink is much better for reading.

Ed Sutherland, Cult of Mac:

If you love e-reading and the Kindle app for the iPad, you may have noticed the familiar “Kindle Store” button missing. Its absence is causing an uproar online and prompting questions whether Apple is unintentionally pushing consumers to buy iBook alternatives.

Elmer-Dewitt is frustrated that the Kindle Store button in the Kindle iOS app was forced to be removed by Apple. I think Apple is intentional in driving app developers and potential customers to its iBookstore. Is this a good strategy for Apple?

iOS apps and iDevices are a fantastic combination: a UI optimized for fingers combined with a superbly tuned multitouch LCD is perfect. Music on iTunes? Not perfect, but better than most; Spotify is my favorite. Video on iTunes can be much better with a subscription option, which Netflix has. But books don’t work very well.

Let’s go back to the display. E Ink is much better for reading than the best LCDs. Apple doesn’t bring much to the table. Amazon has a considerably larger e-book selection and the more readable Kindle. Apple has less e-books and you’re reading on LCDs, whether it’s on the iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad. For those of us who read a lot and want a non-analog experience Amazon is the clear winner. Apple should embrace the usage of Amazon’s Kindle app.

This will become moot soon enough though. Amazon is working on a Kindle tablet. This is what I’ve heard. The Kindle tablet will come in two sizes: 7 and 10 inches. The display technology will be Hydis-developed fringe-field switching (FFS) LCD, manufactured by Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) at its Gen. 6 line (E Ink and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Form Strategic Alliance). FFS is known to be as good as IPS in a number of attributes: wide viewing angles, low shifts in contrast, brightness and color. CPT has also been tapped to supply the touch panel (CPT Touch Panel Supplier For Amazon Tablet), which is rumored to be limited to two touches at a time (Two-Finger Amazon Tablet).

Apple is deliberately forcing potential e-book customers to choose between its iBookstore and others. For luddites like me who would rather read a book made of paper, this is a non-issue, but for the millions who do read on displays this might feel like a conundrum. Well, it isn’t really. With a move away from electrophoretic displays, Amazon loses its biggest advantage: readability. Amazon, with its new tablets, will inadvertently join Apple’s game, a game Apple has been winning for some time.

PS: A reader’s paradise in my mind is a drink, silence, and plenty of time to read a good book.

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