The free Kindle app for Android is an excellent e-reader app that seamlessly ties to your Amazon account. It does a good job of presenting e-books, can easily reach into Amazon’s enormous library of downloadable works, and comes with a few bells and whistles to enhance your overall mobile reading experience. The Amazon Kindle, in all its different guises, is one of the most popular reading devices around. You just have to step on to any train and you’ll see one. It’s also a device that refuses to be pushed into the shade by tablets.
There’s a good reason for that: the Kindle is affordable, it’s easy to use and the content that Amazon offers is often competitively priced against other online retailers, and almost always beats the print pricing.
The app opens up to the Home screen, which has lists of best sellers, editors’ picks, and popular sample books available for browsing. In addition, the Home screen displays the books that are tied to your Amazon account, all neatly organized in a 3D carousel interface. From here, you can either tap a book to go inside or long-press to pull up more options, like going to the beginning of the book, going to the last page read, or removing it from device. The long-press menu also gives you a nifty option to pull up Book Extras provided by Shelfari. Book Extras are community-curated factoids (think Wikipedia) that are meant to provide readers with helpful information as they read. Meanwhile, the rest of the app’s controls are tucked into a sliding menu off to the left.
If you want to expand your library, the Kindle Store is a tap away from the Home screen. In the store, you’ll find Amazon’s catalog of books, magazines, and newspapers. Additionally, the Kindle app can handle illustrated children’s books, comics, and graphic novels. And if you’re not quite ready to commit to a purchase, Kindle lets you preview the first chapter of any book before buying.
One thing I don’t like about the experience is that Amazon requires credit card information even if you’re downloading free e-books.
The good: Kindle for Android offers a number of visual customization options, Shelfari integration, a built-in dictionary, and other extras. You can use the Send to Kindle feature as an Instapaper-like tool for saving items from around the Web.
The bad: Credit card is required even for free downloads. Doesn’t let you name bookmarks.
The bottom line: With convenient features like Send to Kindle and Shelfari integration, Kindle for Android is a rock-solid e-reader app, especially for anyone already invested in the Amazon ecosystem.
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