Amazon Launches Free Kindle App for iPhone

Last Updated Mar 5, 2009 3:10 PM EST

Amazon just took the wraps off Kindle for iPhone, a free app [iTunes link] that lets you read all the books, magazines, and newspapers available from the Kindle Store. (It's compatible with the iPod Touch as well, natch.)

First, the bad news: You can't purchase books on the run like you can with a real Kindle (and, for that matter, with existing e-book apps like eReader and Stanza).

However, once you buy a book (or request a sample chapter -- Amazon lets you preview the first chapter of each and every book in the store) on Amazon's Kindle site, it's immediately available for download on your device. I nabbed a few samples and found the process quick and painless.

The app itself seems fairly basic, offering a choice of text sizes and a bookmark option, but no way to make annotations. You can view notes made on your Kindle, assuming you have one, but that strikes me as pretty lame.

Even so, I'm positively thrilled by this arrival. Amazon did what Steve Jobs should have done, bringing 240,000-plus books (tens of thousands of which are devoted to business, by the way) to a device people are already carrying in their pockets.

Indeed, I've long held that the iPhone is already the best e-book reader money can buy, and this just cements it. Agree? Disagree? The Comments await you.

Meanwhile, don't miss our recent post on whether buying a Kindle 2 makes good business sense. (My take: Now it makes a little less.)

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.