E-books lost on Kindle, found on iPod Touch

Among those who rushed to get the new iPhone Kindle App was CNET News' Ina Fried, who had lost her Kindle and saw the program as a way to rediscover her electronic library.

Tech Culture

When I misplaced my Kindle last year, I not only lost the device, but also any means of reading several e-books that I was in the middle of.

That all changed on Wednesday. My Kindle is no closer to home, but by downloading the new Kindle app for the iPhone (which also works on my iPod Touch), I was able to recover access to my virtual library. Not only that, but thanks to Whispersync, I was able to start reading right where I left off. Whispersync is Amazon's technology for keeping one's place in a book across multiple Kindles or cell phones.

Although I don't think the "I lost my Kindle" crowd is the target market, I must say it was very satisfying to wake up Wednesday once again having access to books that had seemed lost.

The experience highlights both the pros and cons of the "digital locker" approach taken by Amazon with Kindle content. Although some have criticized the fact that one can't resell or give away their Kindle books, the site does provide other aspects of true ownership. In this case, I didn't need to re-buy anything and as soon as I entered my account information, I had access to every book I had purchased for the Kindle. (Periodicals don't work on the iPhone or iPod Touch.)

As for reading on the iPod Touch (or iPhone), I found it quite acceptable for my 15-minute public transit commute to work. The iPod's small size makes it easy to read on a crowded train. One can even hold the iPod and flip pages in one hand while hanging on to a handrail with the other hand.

Ina Fried's Kindle is still among the missing, but thanks to the new iPhone/iPod Touch application, she was reunited Wednesday with her electronic library. Sarah Tew/CNET

That said, I'm not sure I won't go out and buy a Kindle 2 eventually. The iPod Touch reading experience, while fine for short bursts, isn't the easy-on-the-eyes phenomenon I had with the Kindle. It's harder to buy books and I can't read newspapers or magazines. Also, I suspect it will do a number on my iPod's battery.

At the same time, I won't be deleting that iPod app even if I do replace my Kindle. The option of reading on my iPod will help for my commute to work and for those trips where I can't bear to carry an extra device.

Ultimately, the end result is likely to be that I will just be reading (and buying) more electronic books. And, in the end, that's exactly what Amazon wants.

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