Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amazon was ready for Apple's No-Buy-Here. Kindle Cloud Reader arrives. - UPDATE


That was Electricpig's headline last night, which was to the point.

Kindle for Web to the Rescue
Should Kindle Cloud Reader be sporting a cape?  For now, it can fly only in Google Chrome browser and in Safari, but it's very slick, not faster than a speeding bullet but pretty smooth.  All my book covers showed up instantly and I could choose to download any to read offline instead of reading them online from the 'cloud.'

 If you're on Windows and don't have the Chrome browser yet (or if you're on a Mac and want to try Chrome), download it here and then browse to your CloudReader (at

On February 24, this year, while the e-reader world worried over Apple's ax falling on rival ebookstore apps, I wrote "Why Kindle books will be readable & sync'd on Apple devices no matter what" -- and the killer reason was Amazon's work on Kindle for Web, which Amazon demo'd December 7, promising that the ability to read full books was coming soon.   What it touted:
' Kindle books can be read ... anywhere you have a web browser.  Your reading library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are always available to you no matter where you bought your Kindle books or how you choose to read them. '

The Home page of the live Cloud Reader (formerly known as Kindle for Web), which is accessed via Chrome or Safari (the latter, for the iPad) has the Kindle Store icon at the right top.  Try getting rid of THAT Buy Button, Apple :-)

The Kindle Cloud Reader is just another tab on the browser, so when I go somewhere else on it (to the touch-optimized Kindle Store, for one thing), I have to remember to go 'back' on the browser to the Cloud Reader's "Kindle" home page, called "Cloud."  It's not separate as the other Kindle apps are.

Also, this will be an additional "device" when you do the initial setup (in that most books can be read on up to 6 devices on your account (publisher decides how many) though your account may have many more devices than that).

There are a zillion articles on this quietly released feature already.  Electricpig's points out immediately that
' Amazon has quietly outed a way to get round Apple’s restrictions on iOS in-app purchases: the Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader.  We thought Amazon had simply acquiesced to Apple when it killed the store link in its Kindle iPhone and iPad apps but it had a Plan B in the works.

 The Kindle Cloud Reader is a totally web-based version of the eBook reader app that works with Chrome and Safari and comes optimised for the iPad.  The iPhone isn’t supported yet but that can only be a matter of time. '

 They said it "works like a charm.  The ability to switch between the Kindle Store and your library on the iPad is also a treat.

TechCrunch points out that Amazon hasn't said anything about it yet but it's already live.  I didn't know about it but received an alert from Corneliu Dascalu while I was browsing Twitter. (Thanks!)

So it's ready for PCs, Macs, Linux and Chromebooks (not Android yet, but Buy Buttons work on the Android).  TechCrunch's MG Siegler adds that though the iPad is very much supported :-), the iPhone currently is not, so for now, keep using the Kindle for iPhone.

  Since Cloud Reader is optimized for the iPad, it feels, to Siegler, like a native app though it's not, and you can (somewhat slowly with a whirling timer) "swipe back and forth to move between pages."  Since you can read from the cloud or instead read a downloaded book offline "thanks to the magic of HTML 5 (or a Chrome browser extension), it looks and works great," Siegel says.  "It's ready to go and it's very good."

Reaction overall, in a quick browse of news stories, is very favorable.  I'm enjoying reader comments too.

Gadget Lab's Charlie Sorrel opens his story with
' Angry and outraged that Apple forced Amazon to pull the link to the Kindle e-book store from within its Kindle iOS app?  So was Amazon, but instead of just sitting and whining about it like you and me, Amazon decided to do something.  Behold, the Kindle Cloud Reader, a web app that behaves just like a slightly slow native app. '
He considers it 'clunkier' than a regular Kindle app but "sleeker than some actual hardware e-readers.

And here's some advice -- "long press a book cover thumbnail to save" -- plus the info that the app automatically caches any book you're reading, for a smoother experience.

  You can't search within a book, but you can use the browser 'Find' to do that, for now.  However, the Chrome browser gives you the number of Finds and then you have to next-page until you come across them in yellow or orange.  It doesn't go directly to the words.  No notes or highlights can be created, but you can see the ones you've done, by clicking on the right-hand column header-icon that toggles the display of annotations.

  Going back to my Cloud Reader's Library, I went to see the two books I'd downloaded and got a spinning wheel in the center of the browser that might have continued until the end of time, it seemed, but pressing the Refresh icon at the upper left fixed that.

Sorrel adds that a request for a sample gets you one loaded up right there in the store area and looks like the regular reader but you have to read it then and there (which I don't think I mind) but the downside is you can't choose to send it to your library to read later.

Google 'cloud reader' to see much more on this.

UPDATE - Since Kindle Cloud Reader doesn't have a dictionary yet, here's a reminder that Windows users can install a great little free dictionary, WordWeb.  Here's what you get:

The comprehensive English thesaurus and dictionary includes:
Definitions and synonyms
Proper nouns
Related words
5000 audio pronunciations
150 000 root words
220 000 word senses
Fixed web reference tabs

See full details in the blog article from May 3, 2010.

For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books -
- USA: by:
NEW:  June  July  Aug 2011
   Publication Date   Late-listed
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle (U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   DX Graphite

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  1. Thanks for mentioning me, but there was no need. I was just happy when I suddenly noticed the "Cloud Reader" button and I just wanted to share the news :)

    I had just finished ordering a book (on my PC) and behold, a new button! Click! Kindle Cloud Reader, all colorful and shiny... Quickly, go to Kindleworld. Nothing yet. Google "kindle cloud reader". None of the results were older than 1 hour. "Wow, it's really hot! I bet Andrys doesn't know".

    After exploring it a little, I've noticed one missing feature that was available on the desktop Kindle app: two-column view. Which is pretty handy on wide screens. But all in all, it's a nice little thing.

  2. I was lamenting the lack of ebook news (where's the darn Amazon tablet already?), and woke up to this! Just installed it on my macbook/Chrome. It's very nice, though not a full substitute for a native app: no side-loading, no highlights/notes (though you can see those previously created), and as you note no dictionary (though OS X has one). Gosh, even Topaz books work. No margin adjustment, doesn't support iPod/iPhone (yet), probably not Nook Color either but don't know if the latter supports web db or whatever it is called for offline reading.
    The interesting thing will be to see what the uptake is on various devices, in particular the iPad. It seems Amazon will be the only ones able to measure this directly, and after years of the nanny App Store, where Apple has detailed information on app deployment and user profiles, etc., they are about to experience a degree of information 'blackout'.

  3. Corneliu,
    I knew there was no need but I wanted to. Was glad to get the alert!

    I do like the two-column view too. I miss the good Kindle search and an effective dictionary, but it's much smoother than I would have imagined as a new product.

  4. Tom,
    Glad there was SOMEthing for you to wake up to :-)

    The NookColor web browser is android-based and they say they're not ready with that yet. I'll still try it later though!

  5. I was happy to see this news as well. I, too, am waiting on the Amazon tablet. I'm wondering if it will be of better use than the app for a two (or more) account household since it's operating within a browser.
    I can't check myself but does anyone know?

  6. Jazz,
    It's just seen as yet another device and each setup counts as one of the normally 6 allowed to access a book under the same account. Not very different from Kindle for PC or for Mac in that way, but more flexible for access though less fully featured (for now)...

  7. Tom,
    Turns out there's a margin adjustment under the 'Aa' icon. No preview -- you have to 'apply' it.

    I like the 'bar' method better but it's nice to have it at all.

  8. Here's a neat feature - on a PC, you can run *multiple* instances of the cloud reader. That means you can read one book and have another one open to refer to. (For example, when I read a theological text, I can have a Bible open in another tab.) And fyi - Chrome lets you grab a tab and pull it off into its own browser instance - i.e. you can have both books open side-by-side.

    This is something you could NOT do with the PC app, or - obviously - a Kindle.

  9. Thanks for this. Incidentally, there is nothing that I can see at (and doesn't work) but works well with my UK login details.

  10. Thanks for the margin tip. Now life is perfect!

    Note that on iOS (and when Android is working), web apps have their own app icon and appear as separate tasks in the app tray or whatever you call it. So they don't appear as just another browser window/tab as on desktop Chrome.

    Safari and Chrome are both based on webkit, as is the Android browser, so I'd expect support for iPhone & Android (Opera is webkit based and might work already) sooner than for Firefox or IE. I've been using Chrome almost exclusively for at least the last six months on both Win and Mac, so I didn't have any migration barrier to overcome. I would recommend Chrome to almost anyone.

  11. Joel, that's great to know! About a month ago, I had a 17" tube monitor die on me after a decade and I went to Staples to try to get a cheap screen until I could get a good one and wound up with a 24" Dell ST2421L despite their having done no proper setups for any of the screens. It was the only one without convergence problems at the odd settings they had there, making each monitor look gruesome.

    It's beautiful at native resolution. Beautifully clear words, no matter how small, colors are gorgeous, and though I don't see these for sale much for some reason, others who bought it at the same time from Staples seem as happy as I am with it. Vertical viewing angle matters but it's easily tiltable.

    Anyway, am looking forward to trying out your tip :-)

    This was sold for only $200 though it's usually $250 and it has been amazing. I often use two full web screens on, one for writing and one for reading.

    So I'll try out your discovery. Thanks.

  12. Stephen, it's good to know that despite your being in a non-USA area, an international group CAN use this new feature, by using the URL.

    Thanks for sending this added info!

  13. Tom,
    That's really interesting about iOS Safari (and eventually Android too) treating the app as separate, as that will be less confusing. I found myself out of my cloud reader and wondering where it went :-) It's so strange to see it treated as just another web-tab!

    I use Foxfire 5 (will try 6 soon) for 90% of things, as it's just amazingly fast and has all my favorite extensions but I have Chrome as a nice lean alternative and then I choose 'View in IE' when firefox doesn't obey IE's active-scripting that will occur on a few pages and which are activated when I trust the pages.

  14. i'll probably only rarely actually open a book on my pc, but -- wow. the 'multiple instances'-thing will be great for scholarly work. and the Cloud will be excellent for my ipod touch. now i also wonder whether it will work with my phone's browser, but doubt it, as it's webOS.
    for me, the most surprising bit: "fall in love with your library all over again!" i can't imagine that i'm the only one who was simply dazzled by the revelation of the cover-art for all of the books in my library, in such a nice, browsable layout. i've learned from this that the cover art is *extremely* important for pique-ing my curiousity about what's inside.

    now i wish i could set the 'screensaver/screen-lock image' on my actual Kindle to be the cover of the book i'm reading. i do like the privacy aspect of the Kindle, so i'd like to be able to change it if i'm reading something that might spur a distracting discussion; but i'd be most happy to see that neil gaiman cover for a second everytime i sat down to read. even if it is b&w.

    anyway. now all we need in our Kindle Clouds, will be to have our dictionaries integrated/integratable. i bet that will happen.

    happy as a clam about this development.

  15. Hm - another plus (I think): it looks to me like "the cloud reader" counts as one *single* device. At least, when I order a book now I see only one cloud reader, no matter how many machines I've installed this on (3 PCs and one Linux box so far I think). That would suggest you could conceivably have a book on more computers than license limitations allowed.

    Can anyone confirm/figure out a way to test this?

  16. joel, that is really interesting!

    Must be so. My Kindle app for pc shows up for one desktop and two laptops.

    A true Web device then. There's no installation, for one thing. I can access the web and my spaces in it from any Net-connected device, so this is similar...

    Thanks for exploring this and letting us know!


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