The Amazon Kindle App – Could it be the magazine app you’re looking for?

In the coming days, I’ll be writing a lot about iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) apps.

However, I wanted to jump ahead of myself by pointing to this news release from Amazon.com about the new version of the Kindle App that enables embedded audio and video to eBooks.

Last week, Om Malik wrote an opinion piece regarding his belief that the Kindle will win the eBook wars. When you read the headline of that piece: “Why Amazon’s Kindle Will Eventually Win the e-Book Wars,” without reading what he says, your first reaction may be to bristle and say, “No way, the Kindle reader is a one-trick pony compared to the iPad that’s, uh, Harry Houdini.” (Sorry, best metaphor I could come up with so early in the a.m.)

But Om’s post isn’t about the Kindle hardware. Like me, Om is a big believer in Kindle’s platform, channel and software, independent of the Kindle e-reader device. (While the device is not for me, I’ll gladly concede that some folks love it — and I’m happy they do.)

I have loved the Kindle app since the day Amazon announced its availability for the iPhone Kindle.

And, in coming days, I’ll be writing about how I’ve come to love it more and more, with each book I’ve purchased and read via it. (However, I don’t like the “agency pricing model” publishers have forced upon Amazon.)

Also, in the coming days, I’ll be writing about something the iPad has taught me about “user experience” that has blown up any preconceived expectations I originally had about what a “magazine app” should be. I will be writing about what I believe is one potential “killer” aspect of “magazine apps” and where I believe so many of the first generation magazine apps have totally mis-judged the opportunities provided by a new generation of pad/app devices and software.

But Amazon’s announcement about the enhancements of the Kindle iPhone/iPad app provides a hint of what I’m going to write about that I believe has gone most under-appreciated by the “media and content” industrial complex: Magazine apps don’t need to be apps. Magazine companies have great content — only a fraction of which gets into “the magazine.” “Replicating” a printed magazine may not be the only — or even best — opportunity to serve those passionate about your content. And creating something that can only be sold in the Apple apps store may not be the best business model.

There will be many, many channels through which to sell (or distribute free) content that will be read, watched and listened-to on the iPad.

In the end, Amazon will offer one of the best ways to purchase (and sell) such content.

More, much more, later.

  • Oh man you've got me salivating here Rex… I think we're seeing the same thing… can't wait for your extended thoughts on this. Though let me say one thing about Kindle app (which I use and love as well) – it's got some of the worst typography I've ever seen. I'm reading the Rifkin's Empathic Civilization right now and without fail it throws a space after all instances of “fl” (ie: conflict is consistently rendered as confl ict). I realize that digital typography is something of an oxymoron and that Apple is not much better, but at least they have started to understand and correct some of their weakness in the area – the recent version of iBooks has an option to turn forced justification off and to choose a more screen oriented font like Georgia. So while the addition of audio and video is nice, I'd rather have readable type. These platforms ignore the importance of that at their own peril.

  • Like you, I have some beefs w/ the Kindle App (no copy, for instance) and no search. However, I assume they will keep “iterating” until they get all of these things fixed. As for readable type, I'm sure when the “retina display” and more native fonts appear on the iPad, some of these issues will “clear” up.

  • Also – have you happened to see VQR's epub edition on iBooks? They seem to be thinking in the same direction as well. http://www.vqronline.org/blog/2010/06/08/vqr-ipad/

  • Another thought that occurred to me about these special “enhanced” versions of Kindle ebooks was a potential mechanism to get around some of the agency pricing lock down. I don't know if you've ever shopped for a mattress but the major mattress makers essentially create similar (maybe even identical) products with different names so that the major mattress retailers can offer exclusives (and probably get out of a lot of price competition as well). I've noticed the same phenomenon recently with kitchen appliances as well.

    One of the most damaging and harmful aspects of the major publishers' agency model is the requirement that all ebooks have the same price at every ebook store. I'm not sure how it's legal even after the Supreme Court's notorious 2007 5 to 4 decision in the Leegin case. But if there are slightly different versions of ebooks, because surely the enhanced functions and formats that work on a Kindle ebook will be different than those on an iBook ebook, maybe that opens the door for more price differentiation? Here's hoping…

  • I hadn’t see that, but I like the quote: nn”Those who have been following digital publishing trends in the magazine world will note that we took a different path than other magazines by publishing VQR as an ePub. (Several dozen magazines are available for the Kindle, but in our opinion, they look awful.) Nearly every magazine selling a digital edition for the iPad is doing so as a stand-alone application. This is a mistake. Releasing issues of magazines as apps is bad for readers and publishers alike. “

  • Years ago, I read where Walmart asks marketers/manufacturers for products that have a slightly unique feature set not available at another retailer, say, a Canon camera with one less button (just making that up). Or they ask for a box of Tide in a volume no available elsewhere — By doing so, Walmart can underprice a camera distributed through another retailer without the manufacturer having to alienate the competition.

  • Years ago, I read where Walmart asks marketers/manufacturers for products that have a slightly unique feature set not available at another retailer, say, a Canon camera with one less button (just making that up). Or they ask for a box of Tide in a volume no available elsewhere — By doing so, Walmart can underprice a camera distributed through another retailer without the manufacturer having to alienate the competition.