In one of my first posts, I talked about how it’s great that textbooks are moving to digital formats, but Kindle-ized textbooks still don’t work for me right now. One of my main gripes was that Kindle ebooks couldn’t be read on a computer. Well, Amazon has started to fix that problem by introducing the Kindle for PC application, letting Kindle ebook owners read their material on their computers.
My reaction is still … really? You’re only just now rolling out this technology? It feels like it should have been an obvious piece of software from the beginning. It’s not as though reading an ebook on a computer is a novel idea. Amazon even used to sell a variety of digital books which could be read using either Adobe or Microsoft reader apps. I remember buying a couple books this way in high school, but the files I purchased no longer appear in my “digital locker” on amazon.com. Now, almost digital books for sale on the website are branded for the Kindle. (You can still find some books for sale as PDF’s, but not on nearly as many as you could have a few years ago.) Maybe Amazon hoped that delaying the ability to read its ebooks without a Kindle would encourage more hardware sales. It is, after all, losing money from the sale of most ebooks. However, the Kindle iPhone App has been freely available since March 2009. Make up your mind, Amazon!
It sounds like Amazon wants to restrict its reading platforms as much as possible, but not to the point where it stops them from being competitive. When Barnes & Noble announced its Nook last month, it advertised that both PC and Mac software will be available to read your Nook-branded ebooks on, and I think Amazon saw a need to match this feature. It’s a smart move; I’ll gladly pick the ereader that will let me read my books (which they insist on putting DRM on) on more devices.
While Kindle for PC is free and available to download now, Amazon.com currently lists Kindle for Mac as “coming soon.” For their sake, I hope they finish it before Christmas, or else there will probably be a few more Mac-users opting for the Nook, instead.