Kindle for iPad: So Much Depends Upon It

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Screenshots and information surfaced this morning about Amazon’s Kindle app for iPad and other tablet computers. It looks really nice, offering, in some ways, the things the Kindle itself can’t: a fun-to-use interface, color, illustrations, a bigger screen. The image above shows the bookshelf screen, and apparently the sun moves across the background to match the time of day. E-Ink can’t do that! You can check out Engadget, Slashgear, and Amazon’s Website for more info about the app, but we want to take this opportunity to pontificate a bit about why this is an important step for Amazon.

If Apple doesn’t screw it up by prohibiting eBook apps (which it has not been rumored to be planning, but who knows with those guys), eReading on the iPad is not going to be about iBooks. The iPad will be the first device to comfortably offer access to a number of eBookstores and platforms. Most readers who use iPad to view eBooks will have their library spread across multiple eReaders–iBooks, Stanza, Ibis, Google, and, of course, Kindle. One of iPad’s biggest effects on eBooks may be to facilitate the transition from readers identifying as users of a particular device–“I have a Kindle”–to identifying as eBook readers who simply say, “I read a lot of eBooks.”

E-Ink devices like Kindle may not make it in the long run, but the Kindle platform and eBookstore will most likely continue to be the most prominent eBook source. The iPad app is what will keep Kindle on top. Kindle owners may ditch their Kindles for iPads, but they’ll port their whole Kindle eBook library to the iPad Kindle app. So Amazon is smart to make its Kindle app really cool.

Do you agree? Do you think this is a make-or-break moment for Kindle?