Here’s a glimpse at Kindle’s new iPad app that sports a cool redesigned tablet-based interface that should give a great reading experience. It’s hard to tell from that whether it’s going to be more like Cover Flow, or like the iPad’s kinda cheesy wood bookshelves. But, it’s likely our first taste of the Kindle interface for the new, super Kindles being developed with full color multitouch displays and Wi-Fi.
Or at least, it’s practice for Amazon. (Granted, those super Kindles at least a year away, unless Amazon had been working everything but the touchscreen before they bought Touchco, the company supplying their quite cool-sounding multitouch display tech.)
The Kindle app for the iPad, which Amazon demonstrated to a reporter last week, allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. It also presents two new ways for people to view their entire e-book collection, including one view where large images of book covers are set against a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. The sun’s position in that image varies with the time of day.
The reason Amazon and Barnes & Noble need apps to get their books onto your iPad, even though Steve Jobs touted the iPad’s format of choice, epub, for its popularity and openness, is that they each use their own crazy formats and DRM (particularly Amazon). Amazon’s books won’t work at all, and the only B&N books that’ll work are DRM-free epub files. Obviously, the apps offer other benefits, like syncing, but format compatibility is a huge reason.
The question, really, is whether or not Apple’s going to let them build their own ebook stores into the apps, now that they’d be competing with Apple’s own iBooks store. B&N’s iPhone app, for instance, lets you buy books directly through the app, but iBooks wasn’t an issue at the time.
The best thing Apple could do? Let them be. The easiest way to convert a Kindle customer into an iBooks customer is to let them seamlessly move to the iPad, bringing all their old books and their Kindle account with them. Then, if the iBooks experience is better than Kindle’s or B&N’s, for the same price, they’ll switch. If people can’t bring their old books along for the ride, they’re less likely to hop on, plus if Apple gimps or bans Amazon or B&N’s apps, they’ll just look like callow dicks, afraid of the competition. If the competition makes everybody’s ebook apps better, then everybody wins. Then again, if Apple’s selling tons of iPads, making lots of money, I guess they win either way.