For those with the patience to listen to my comments on Twitter, you probably heard me making note of how terrible the new version of the Amazon Kindle app is for the iPad. The last version made a few changes to what I once considered the best e-book reading app on the device.
After a few emails from helpful friends, some gyrations with file formats and and upgrade to my version of Calibre, I had all of my Kindle books residing happily in the constantly-improving iBooks app.
Overall, I much prefer the reading experience on iBooks at this point, for many reasons. I'll address them in a minute, but first I wanted to show you why I feel the Kindle app has gotten so bad.
Where Amazon Went Wrong
Here are two screenshots of the same page in both apps. I greyed-out the Kindle app version to better differentiate the two. Key to note here is the amount of "breathing room" there is around the text. In the previous version of the Kindle app, the text used to float inside the frame much like the iBooks version but with the latest release, it is cramped on all sides.
(click the pictures to enlarge)
While it is distracting enough while reading, if you display the interface elements to do something like look at the time, check your progress through the book, or add a bookmark you can see that the interface elements cover the text in the Kindle version. Why? It's inexplicable, distracting and downright ugly.
I'll admit that one spot where Kindle gets it right is the Library display. There are rare occasions where the skeuomorphic design might work but the whole bookshelf idea is not one of them. I much prefer the Kindle version of this screen.
What's A Good Solution?
Before Amazon laid this egg, I had been almost all of my ebooks from them. I figured their versions would be portable to my Kindle 2, my iPhone or my iPad. Another big plus was that the Kindle app for iPad had a "night mode" long before iBooks did which it made it the best choice for reading at night, as I generally do before bed.
Since Apple opened their online bookstore, I rarely bought ebooks in iBooks format but it was sometimes necessary if they weren't available from Amazon. It was rare however as, even now, I can count the number of iBooks epubs on one hand. I even pre-ordered the Steve Jobs bio on Kindle which seemed somewhat of a betrayal at the time.
But, as with all things (especially software development!), time marches on and with each release Apple improved the iBooks app. When night-mode was added, I seriously started to look at it for handling the bulk of my reading. Still, ebook pricing was generally more favorable on Amazon and the selection was much better so moving was not going to be an easy choice.
That said, some events have conspired to precipitate an quicker move to iBooks than I had previously anticipated (*cough-IOS6beta-sneeze*) and I needed a good way to read books on my devices. After some asking around, it turns out many had solved this problem before and were eager to proffer solutions. Thanks for all of the help, folks.
At this point, I've come up with a decent (if fiddly) method for moving my books to iBooks in epub format. I can switch back and forth depending on my needs at the time and, if Amazon ever decides to improve their Kindle app (or at least restore it to it's former level of usefulness), this way I'll be able to switch back. The issue of having a perfectly serviceable app become unusable (for me) is something I've rarely had to contend with (Instacast is another example of an app that had a misstep but, after their last release, they seem to have corrected the most glaring issues). I'm hoping Amazon corrects their problems and gives me the options which I appreciate for things like this. Until then, at least there is one really excellent choice for epub reader in iBooks. It is gorgeous, works really well and its bookmark cloud-sync seems to be working flawlessly.