Kindle Publications Move Beyond the Kindle

Whenever I write about the reading materials that are available for Amazon.com's Kindle, I have to remember to be precise. A very good selection of magazines and newspapers exist in Kindle form, but you've only been only to read them on Kindle hardware, not on the Kindle apps available for the iPhone Android, and other platforms.

Today, that's changed -- not completely, but quite a bit. Amazon has updated its Kindle app for Android to version 2.0, and the new version lets you buy magazines and newspapers, in both single-copy and subscription form.

Amazon says more than a hundred publications are available. That's an impressive start, but there's further to go -- by my count, folks who own the Kindle e-reader have access to 238 magazines and papers. For now, the Android app's selection is spotty (you can get Newsweek but not TIME; The New York Times but not The Wall Street Journal).

I sampled the Times and MIT Technology Review. In both cases, the presentation was simple and text-oriented -- which is probably what you want on a tiny smartphone screen anyhow -- but images were in color. As with publications available on the Kindle device, everything offers a trial period that lets you get freebies before you're committed to pay.

The new version of the Android app also introduces an in-app store that lets you browse and buy titles without having to hop over into the Web browser. But for reasons I don't understand, it shows all magazines and newspapers, not just the ones it's possible to read on an Android device.

Amazon's release on this news doesn't say anything about future plans. But for publications that aren't yet available on Android, a button lets you bug the publisher to permit an Android version, so I assume that Amazon would very much like to offer everything that's available on the Kindle e-reader. I imagine it would also like to sell all this stuff to iPhone and iPad owners. Perhaps the lack of a way for publishers to sell subscriptions via Apple's App Store is the only thing standing in the way.

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