There have been many debates in regards to books: hardback versus paperback, mass market paperback versus large print, fiction versus nonfiction, books versus ebooks, etc. Technology and the needs of consumers dictate the evolution of books. While ebooks may not ever completely replace hard copy books, it is important to understand that ebooks have revolutionized how and where people can read. It is also important to note that not all e-readers and e-reading apps are created equally. There are many similarities and differences between two of the most common reading apps: Kindle and iBooks. The best app is determined by each person’s individual needs regarding the device used, what format of book to be used, features wanted and needed while reading, such as annotating and highlighting, and how it incorporates external information.
- They are both free apps that can be downloaded with WiFi connection or cellular data.
- Kindle is available on almost all major phones and tablets. Kindle even has its own line of e-readers appropriately named Kindle.
- iBooks is an Apple product, so it only works on their devices (i.e. iPod, iPad, Macbook, etc.). iBooks seems limiting, but it is perfect for someone who owns all Apple products and wants to sync an app across all devices.
- Kindle also works on Apple products and can also be synced across all devices, regardless of what platform.
- Kindle wins this point.
- The easiest way to get books for each app is to use their coordinating store: iBooks Store for iBooks and Kindle Store through Amazon for Kindle. Both stores auto-deliver books to the appropriate app, and both provide free samples of many books (Chavanu, 2014). However, some people may get files emailed to them or from a library and need to upload them to an e-reading device manually.
- Kindle has its own specific format of books, the AZW file, which prevents that file from being used on other reading apps (Bradford, n.d.). Luckily, Kindle also supports other types of documents such as TXT, MOBI, and PRC. Amazon also can convert other types of files into something that Kindle can read such as: DOC, HTML, PDF, JPG, and PNG (Bradford, n.d.).
- Like Kindle, iBooks also has its own unique formatting for books purchased from its online store. It also supports PDF and EPUB files (About iBooks, n.d.).
- At first, Kindle may seem to win this area too because of the variety of document types it supports. However, an important note is that it seems like most self-published authors use EPUB files when sending out free copies of their books to reviewers, and EPUB is one of the most common file formats for ebooks overall, which makes iBooks the winner of this category.
Features Available During Reading:
- “Both ereaders also allow for categorizing books, but the Kindle allows for putting books into more than one category” (Chavanu, 2014) whereas iBooks does not.
- Both apps share features such as reading in portrait or landscape mode, adjusting screen brightness and color, and automatic update to the furthest page read as you move from device to device (Chavanu, 2014).
- The Kindle has some additional features for personalization of the reading experience such as changing the margin size and number of columns (Chavanu, 2014).
- One big difference is that iBooks uses page numbers whereas Kindle uses locations. Locations makes it difficult if someone is reading a textbook with assigned pages or is trying to cite a specific page number.
- iBooks has one feature that Kindle does not, which is “the option for reading books in continuous scrolling mode instead of page by page” (Chavanu, 2014).
- Another big benefit of iBooks is that it will read aloud text that the reader selects. This is great for auditory learners, hearing the pronunciation of a word, or for people with bad vision.
- Each app has some unique features that make it stand out, so this category is a tie.
Annotations and Highlights:
- They both allow notes and highlights and save across all devices (Chavanu, 2014).
- A plus for Kindle is that its annotations save automatically to the associated Amazon account.
- They also both offer highlighting in a variety of colors. The Kindle app has four colors, whereas iBooks has five plus underlining (Chavanu, 2014).
- A huge benefit of iBooks is that it allows for readers to send all or some annotations via email (Chavanu, 2014).
- While Kindle does not offer that feature, it does allow for readers to sort annotations and categorize them by color (Chavanu, 2014). This is very important to people who want to categorize their notes by color, perhaps for studying or researching.
- Another unique feature of iBooks is that it allows for text to be copied and pasted into annotations and it also allows for text within the book to be copied and pasted (Chavanu, 2014).
- This category also ends in a tie since both offer some good annotation features, and, again, the winner for this depends on each reader’s individual needs.
Incorporating External Information:
- iBooks does not have an internal web-browser, so all links have to be opened externally (Calimlim, 2015).
- Because Kindle does have an internal browser, it offers integration of other apps and offers quick and easy definitions and translations (Calimlim, 2015).
- “Kindle’s X-Ray functionality provides more information about the characters, terms and events in books, and the app’s Popular Highlights feature and Goodreads integration make reading a social endeavor and not just a solitary vice” (Calimlim, 2015).
- Kindle definitely wins for best incorporating external information.
It is important to know the differences between Kindle and iBooks apps if you are a reader or a writer. Readers need to focus on the ease of use and appearance, whereas writers need to focus on how many platforms it is available on and how easy it is to get their book into each format. Both apps have unique features that could easily make either one of them a better, depending on what purpose needs to be served. Both apps are very well run and easy to use, so a reader cannot go wrong with either of them. Since the consumers dictate the evolution of technology, it won’t be long before both apps offer a combination of the most popular features. Then it will be a race to see who can come out with even cooler and more unique features.
About iBooks. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201478
Bradford, A. (n.d.). What Types of Files Can I Put on a Kindle? Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://science.opposingviews.com/types-files-can-put-kindle-13019.html
Calimlim, A. (2015, April 28). Apple's iBooks versus Amazon's Kindle. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://appadvice.com/appnn/2015/04/apples-ibooks-versus-amazons-kindle-leading-e-reading-apps-go-head-to-head
Chavanu, B. (2014, September 8). Kindle vs. iBooks: Which Is The Best eReader For Your iPad or iPhone? Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/ios-kindle-vs-ibooks-video-highlight-similarities-differences/