Just as on the Kindle, users can purchase any of Amazon's more than 480,000 eBooks, one of the largest catalogs of paid titles. Though the app has access to the large selection of New York Times bestsellers--94 percent at press time--magazines and newspapers aren't available, nor are blog subscriptions (though those would be pretty much useless). Customers only have access to their eBooks.
On the iPhone, clicking Get Books on the home screen launches Amazon.com in Safari, where users can purchase new books. On BlackBerry devices, both browsing and purchasing happens from within the app, so the user doesn't have to switch back once the purchase is complete.
Aside from titles purchased on the phone, we were able to download books we already owned by browsing through Archived Items, accessed from the home screen. Just choose a book from the list to download, and it will appear on the home screen once complete.
Navigating the Library
On both BlackBerrys and the iPhone, the home screen presents books in a simple list with just the title and author showing. From here users can sort by title, author, or recent, but not by collection, genre, or user-defined presets. Deleting books from the device (but not the server or other devices) is also accomplished from here.
Kindle's app offers the most bare-bones reading experience, but it does the basics well. After opening a book in the iPhone version, the menu and information bars remain at the top and bottom of the screen for a few seconds before fading away. A tap in the center of the screen will bring them back or dismiss them again.
There are few customization options available to users. Default margins and line spacing on the iPhone take advantage of the screen without seeming too crowded; however, users can't customize these options. Page turns are only accomplished by swiping right or left, or tapping the corresponding edges of the screen--no up or down motions are available for those who prefer it.
Users can choose from five text sizes, but no alternate fonts. The app has three predesigned themes: black text on a white background; the reverse for night reading; and Sepia, which makes the background easier on the eyes.
On the BlackBerry, thin bars at the top and bottom with the book title and progress remain unless the user chooses Full Screen mode, a must on models with smaller displays. On this platform users can scroll text smoothly with no page breaks or use the space bar to advance to the next screen. Other than the six offered text sizes, no other custom tweaks are available.
Both apps utilize the Whispersync network, which allows users not only to sync books to multiple devices, but also to the last page read. We were able to read one book across multiple devices, always picking up where we left off.
Amazon's Kindle app isn't the most sophisticated or customizable piece of software, but it offers a good reading experience and a large selection of content.