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Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software 232

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the eyestrain-is-fun dept.
palmsolo writes "The Amazon Kindle 2 just started shipping last week, but Amazon surprised everyone late on March 3rd by placing the Amazon Kindle software for the iPhone in the Apple App Store. With the Whispersync technology you can now keep your Kindle and iPhone ebooks in sync and read everywhere you go. Readers on the iPhone also now get access to over 200,000 ebook titles on the Amazon Kindle storefront. Check out the hands-on image gallery and video of the Amazon Kindle software on the iPhone and Kindle 2."
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Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software

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  • by joeflies (529536) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:58AM (#27065251)

    Do you need a Kindle to use this iphone app? The article only talks about the benefits of using the app with the kindle, but for all of those that don't have one, can we use the app and buy ebooks on the amazon store?

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:01PM (#27065293)
    Amazon probably makes plenty of money off eBook sales. With tons of iPhone and iPod Touch users using Stanza and other eBook readers, it only makes sense to support this market. Now instead of having Amazon eBook sales tied to Kindle hardware, they can tie to iPhones and iPod Touches too.

    While I don't think this will do anything to get iPhone/iPod Touch users to buy a Kindle, it will certainly quintuple their Kindle eBook sales.

    Watch the Kindle software platform become available on other devices (Android, Windows Mobile) in the near future.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:03PM (#27065333)

    Thousands of iPhone zombies squinting into tiny little screens, walking into cars...

    Never mind them, some will be driving cars.

  • Even at free... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:05PM (#27065371)

    DRM = no sale

  • Also ipod touch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by proxima (165692) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:07PM (#27065393)

    The summary doesn't make it clear, but the article mentions that it also works with the iPod touch. Considering the touch is smaller, lighter, and much cheaper than both the iPhone and the Kindle, this application might give a significant boost to readers looking for a (relatively) inexpensive reader.

    Having read long books on old Palm PDAs, the size of the screen is only a minor annoyance. Those PDAs, though, were not backlit LCDs. Some people might find an iPod screen too fatiguing for long reading.

  • Compromise to DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:10PM (#27065433)
    If Amazon starts allowing its software to be used on _any_ platform, whether it be iPhone, Kindle, Laptop, Netbook, or 3rd Party eBook Reader, would that be an acceptable compromise to the fact that their e-books use DRM?

    Valve's Steam has shown that people (even Geeks who notoriously hate DRM) are willing to compromise and use DRM if something of great enough value is offered with it (and possibly because of it).
  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:24PM (#27065631) Journal

    Which is why the iPhone absolutely sucks as an ebook reader.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:26PM (#27065649) Homepage Journal

    I've done a very significant amount of reading on devices as small or smaller than the iPhone. Originally it was all Pocket PCs, and more recently my Blackberry Pearl and iPod Touch. I end up doing most reading on my Blackberry (recently Moby Dick, The Stand and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) simply because I've always got it with me, and it's convenient to pull it out and fill in little downtime here and there.

    I've contemplated actual dedicated ebook reader hardware, like the Kindle, but most of my reading is done when I don't have anything better to do, regardless of where I'm at. The spontaneity of always having the ebook with me without having to consciously bring it along or keep track of extra hardware is what allows me to do much reading in the first place.

  • by blhack (921171) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:29PM (#27065687)

    I think the quality issue will change.

    I don't know about this, at least not in the near future, and probably not on a device as weak (computationally) as the kindle.

    There is a lot *more* to speech that the words, the sounds of the letters. Speech is music, words are like tabs.

    Every tried to play a guitar song by looking at a tab and having never heard the song before? Or tried to sing karaoke? Its hard. Its almost impossible to get it right.
    Computers are trying to do the same thing with text-to-speech. Text doesn't tell you what sort of inflection to use, what sort of cadence to use, says nothing of dynamic range. (can you see that I'm trying to draw a correlation between speech and music).

    More analogies:
    Text-To-Speech is a lot like trying to get a concert masterpiece from a midi file...except that even the midi file is telling you WHEN to play the notes. The text doesn't even do that.
    A lof of the cues that we use to read speech naturally comes from our ability to "render" whatever scene we're reading from in our head, and use the cues from the scene to act out the part of whatever we're reading (be it the narrator, or a character, or a journalist in a magazine article).

    Is it possible to replace human speech with a computer? Yes, most definitely. Is it practical to do it in something like the kindle with current technology?
    No.

  • I think they focused on the benefit of using this app with the Kindle because... well, the first question that popped into my head was, "If I buy a book on my iPhone and then get a Kindle in a few months, will I be able to transfer my books over to the Kindle, or are they going to try to make me buy them all again?"

    Once I had gotten past that thought, my next question might have been, "Well how hard will it be to transfer books from one to the other? Will Amazon provide a mechanism for that?" If I had gotten past those two, I'd like to think I'd be clever enough to ask at some point, "Can they provide any method for me to read on my one device and have my place synced over to the other so I can pick up right where I left off?"

    It looks like Amazon may have covered their bases pretty well.

  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:36PM (#27065787) Homepage

    Do you not think that this would be of interest to slashdot? Do you honestly think that this site, with millions of users, would have nobody submit this as a story, and that none of the editors would post it?

    So what you're saying is that you think it's more likley that this is astroturfing, than just you know, the people who use this site happening to think this is cool news? I for one think it's neat.

  • Re:Tried it out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:40PM (#27065831) Homepage

    I buy books from living authors I like, because I want them to keep writing. Dead authors? I use the library. I don't give a crap about supporting their whiny children's estate.

  • iStrain? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:04PM (#27066159)

    Give me a phone with e-ink display first.

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:12PM (#27066239)

    Not available in the Canadian app-store (or in Europe).

    I really am saddened by this aspect of 'progress', you can order physical CDs, DVDs, kindles, anything from all over the world and nobody has an issue with that, but the second anything becomes distributed electronically boom, we're transported to this strange super-protectionistic world where things do not move freely anymore.

    I fear for tomorrow's world, where instead of being exposed to music, shows, books, tv, from other countries you will just be able to read, listen and watch to things 'approved' by some company somewhere.

    And let's not talk about people learning a foreign language: say you're studying German and you'd love to read some German books and watch some shows from Amazon.de, sorry, no way. Or maybe you live in Brazil and you'd like to improve your English by reading books, listening to music and watching shows over the internet, nossiree, not gonna happen.

    It seems that modern technology is more and more used as a 'control' technology, vs an 'enabling' technology, which is quite sad as it just promotes an extremely insular world, instead of the free exchange of information.

    I really hope that, as it happened to the music DRM, at some point the 'powers that be' will realize that this attitude is completely wrong, but given the latest salvo by the book authors about the kindle's text-to-speech functionality (which could've helped a lot of blind or non-native-English speakers) I am really not sure if it will ever happen.

  • Re:Even at free... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:23PM (#27066407) Homepage

    "no DRM = (no sale) x millions"

    No, no DRM means no sale to tens of ummmm....tens.

    The anti-DRM lobby isn't as big as folks like to make it sound. Most pirates aren't going to buy regardless of the DRM status...those that make up the millions. The casual copyright infringers may be annoyed but buy the content begrudgingly.

    Personally, I don't like DRM, but so long as there are easy ways around it, I'm not so worried. Every book I found for the Kindle was also easily available online through other sources. I prefer to use my books / music / otherwise how I feel fit, and I respect copyright, so I don't feel bad about finding ways around the DRM...but 99% of the time...I use the content exactly as the publisher expects me to. It is rare that DRM gets in the way of me doing something legitimate....and I'd safely say except for the outliers who choose to use obscure systems or for some religious purpose can't be associated with a product because it isn't F/OSS (then why are you buying copyrighted books!@!!!@!), it is generally a rare event for this to be a problem.

    DRM is not going to put a dent in sales what so ever...personally, I wish the day would come that the GIB IT TO ME FREEEHEEE crowd either grow up or die, so that DRM could go away...ironic that the very people that are most vocally yelling against it is pretty much the reason it exists in the first place.

  • by agnosticnixie (1481609) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:15PM (#27067105)
    Neither have I, ever.

    *gets back to reading her book in the sunset*

  • by haystor (102186) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:31PM (#27067333)

    The iPhone is too expensive and not worth the money. The average person would probably buy the iPod because it costs so much less than the iPhone. With the Apple stores and going online and looking around there are always have deals or a refurbished one, you just have to watch for them every few months.

    Last I checked, the iPod Touch was $30 more than the iPhone hardware for an 8GB ($229), and the same price ($299) for the 16GB). (I last checked 1 minute ago.)

    Now, if you're talking data plans, sure, the iPhone ends up more expensive after just one month. But the price difference obviously depends on your current phone plan. I had unlimited Internet on my old Blackjack, and getting the iPhone 3G was only $15/month more for me--and I was told I would have to pay $15/month more for any phone I got, as I was on an older, cheaper data plan than they currently offered (woo, prices went up!).

    YMMV.

    *Qualified customers only. Two-year contract required.

  • by Jay L (74152) * <jay+slash&jay,fm> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:45PM (#27067507) Homepage

    Perhaps that sounds like a lot of work.

    More importantly, it sounds like a lot more work than recording the audio. What's the advantage of the TTS method?

    You no longer need voiceover artists. Instead, you need a voiceover programmer. You still need someone with all the skills of a voiceover producer to make multiple listen-and-tweak passes. I suspect that it takes more producer time to tweak the TTS than it takes to tweak human talent - and producers are more expensive than talent. You'll also have the TTS equivalent of "browser compatibility testing". So your labor costs probably go up with TTS.

    The real advantage of text is bandwidth and storage - and even today, the resource requirements of audio speech are already far more comparable to those of text than those of video. By the time we develop sufficiently advanced TTS workflows, why wouldn't TTS be as quaint a concept as recompressed-for-modem-download JPEGs on web proxies, or SID/MIDI files for popular music? Both were technical solutions that brought media to the masses before the masses were ready. Both disappeared as soon as we could feasibly transmit the real thing.

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