Amazon’s Kindle for PC beta application arrives this morning. The software supports Windows XP, Vista and 7 machines, while Amazon says that a Mac version is coming soon. What’s ingenious about this app — as well as the iPhone app before it — is that you can read Amazon Kindle books without buying the Kindle hardware. With a Windows version, Amazon is expanding their potential customer base to 85% or more of computer users. Reading books on a computer certainly isn’t the same experience as reading them on a light eInk device or a handheld, but I could see this swaying more money into Amazon’s bank account.
I downloaded and installed the beta app on the Windows 7 partition of my Toshiba NB205 netbook this morning. Once I signed in to my Amazon account, I was able to see all 44 of my archived book purchases with full color covers. Books can be sorted by Title or Author. A double-tap downloads the book and you’re off and running. Page navigation can be done by mouse, arrow keys or Page Up/Down keys. There are 10 font sizes to choose from and you can modify the page width using a “Words per line” slider. Kindle for PC does support Whispersync, so the software will pick up from the last read position if you were reading on a Kindle. Or you can read on your PC and your Kindle will synchronize to that point when you move from PC to Kindle.
Notes, highlights and bookmarks also sync to the PC, but with this version of the software, there’s no way to make notes or highlight text on the PC — you can bookmark pages, however. Amazon is also planning to add search and zoom / image rotation to Kindle for PC in a future version. Of course, you shop directly for Kindle books, but not within the application. Clicking the “Shop in Kindle store” button opens your default browser where you can then send samples to or purchase full titles. Now that my software is registered, I see a “Kevin’s Kindle for PC” delivery option for content. It’s worth noting that Windows 7 users with touch supported hardware gain one bonus now and one in the future. The current app supports touch zooming with a two-fingered pinch. In an upcoming release, Amazon will add page turning with finger swipes.
Since I have a Kindle, I’ll still rely on it for my daily reading. I generally take the Kindle everywhere, but on the off-chance I don’t bring it, I usually have my netbook with me, which will make for decent backup reading device. I’ll still likely use Kindle for iPhone as well, but that would be for a different scenario. When I have five or ten minutes of just standing around, the iPhone does the trick. If I can sit somewhere and I’ll want to read for a longer period of time, the netbook will be my tool of choice. And if I have my Kindle with me, it will likely trump both options, provided I have enough light to read the eInk display. The only exception might be a graphic novel of some type as the PC app supports reading color.