Kindle for the iPhone, a first quick look

By James Turner
March 4, 2009 | Comments: 7

Out of curiosity, I installed the Kindle iPhone app this morning to poke around with it, and see what a "premium" book reader for the iPhone would be like. It's no surprise that the iPhone screen is a suboptimal display format for book reading, there's a reason the Kindle is the size it size... On the other hand, I didn't need to shell out many hundreds of dollars in new hardware costs (well, beyond the several hundreds I had already spent for the iPhone.)

It was simple enough to install the application and link it to my Amazon account via my email address. Once I did, the iPhone immediately showed up as a downloadable device when I went to the Kindle pages on Amazon. I bought Denis Leary's Why We Suck, and when I return to my iPhone, it was already downloaded and ready.

That being said, there's one reason I will absolutely not be using the Kindle software to read a lot of books. Right justification. You hearing me there, Amazon? Nothing makes text harder to read in a narrow column than right justification. Give me some ragged right borders, so I can keep track of what fracking line I'm on, and I'll be a much happier camper.

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Kindle justification is determined by the author/formatter of each individual ebook, not by Amazon nor the device itself.

I agree with you that the reader should be able to select justification.

FWIW, most Kindle ebooks I've purchased (over 200, since November of 2007) seem to be rag-right, with tabs and double-spacing to delineate new paragraphs.

Can you use it reading in bed? In other words can you control screen rotation, i.e., turn it off or have it manually set?

Agree on right justification, ragged is better.

That's not right justification, it's just justification.

You can configure the Kindle to disable auto right justification of text. Go to the Font setting menu, then click J, and an expanded menu will appear allowing you to enable or disable right justification.

I love the app but it has problems. You can't edit notations is my beef. When I am reading and want to make notes - I can't!

However, I like reading on it a lot. I love the backlight. I know Amazon's line about the "paper ink" etc., but I like to read in bed, at night, with the lights off and I don't want to clip on some stinky little light.

Most importantly, the size of the iPod Touch/iPhone is what makes this app rock. I have my books with me now, not stuffed in a backpack or back in the car.

- No right justification
- The screen rotates automatically (be great to have an override)
- No dictionary support

Overall, though - it's free and it's great!


You my brain doesn't pause a nanosecond to consider the justification of the pages. I am speed reading through the pages like crazy after just 20 pages of my first book. I downloaded my second. I admit some may have a learning bend, but to have a book with you wherever and whenever without another device - is heaven.

Almost two years since this post, and Amazon still hasn't addressed the issue of being able to turn off justification on the Kindle iPhone app. Yes, some people don't care about that, but some of us DO, and really wish they would offer that option. It's a trivial bit of programming, and the iPhone apps for the Barnes & Noble nook, for Kobo, for eReader, and for Stanza all offer this option. How 'bout it, Amazon?

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