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iBooks vs. Kindle

I wanted to compare the Kindle app for iPad against Apple's iBooks equivalent. Realistically, any iPad book reader will have both of these; Amazon's Kindle selection is far larger than what you can find in iTunes (app. 7-8 times more titles) but, at least for now, content specifically produced for iPad is a far more rich experience - it can even include imbedded video. There is also the matter of price; while most titles are priced the same or very close to the same, you may find variance here and there (mostly on the Kindle side being less).

For comparison purposes I chose P.T. Barnum's The Art of Money Getting. That is long out of copyright, so is available for free from both iBooks and the Kindle Store. As both versions would certainly be scanned rather than produced specifically for digital reading, I thought that might let me focus entirely on the differences between the apps, but that wasn't quite the case: the iBooks version is presented much differently and (in my opinion) is much better than the Kindle version.

By the way, old Phineas is worth reading. You won't find much better general business advice anywhere. The writing style is typical of the time (think Dickens), but almost everything he has to say can be applied to a twenty-first century entrepreneur. I recommend him without reservation.



The most obvious difference between the two apps is that the iBooks has a table of contents and the Kindle does not. The top image is the iBooks; you can click on a chapter to go to it. The Kindle version doesn't have a table of contents for this book at all - just a bookmark to the beginning.

Of course new digital works do have clickable contents and more.

I don't like the Kindle concept of "locations" instead of page numbers. Their reasoning is that page numbers will vary with font size, making a page number bookmark indeterminate. That's silly: a page starts with a specific sentence fragment regardless of font size. Their "location" scheme makes it impossible to tell someone else to "look on page 135".

The iBooks version can be searched; the Kindle cannot. That seems to be true even for new works and would definitely make me prefer the iBooks version if available. Unfortunately, iBooks doesn't even have a Technology section, so I didn't find any of my favorite tech titles that I would love to have here in searchable digital form. Kindle is way, way ahead on available content.

I remain disappointed with digital pricing. It seems unreasonable to me, especially considering that you generally can't pass on digital works. In my family, books get handed from person to person, and some travel long distances while doing so. We get a lot of value from a $20 book. I will certainly pay near hard-cover price for a book I want to keep as a reference, but digital pricing is too high for books I would read just once.

The publishers insist that they need these margins. I think they would sell far more if they sold them for far less. Distribution cost is near zero; I just don't think current pricing is realistic for the value gained.

So, get the iBooks version if there is one, but I think pricing is too high.

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© Anthony Lawrence

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