Amazon’s Kindle applications are one of the most popular ways to read ebooks. Oh sure, some people actually own a Kindle reader but quite a lot of people don’t. They simply use the Amazon Kindle application for their particular hardware.
To date, Amazon is supporting the following platforms:
Hmm. It seems that one VERY prominent platform is missing. Yep, that’s right. Amazon still has not released a Kindle application for Linux.
This is a very stupid and shortsighted decision on Amazon’s part and I’ll explain why in this column. Linux has a tremendous amount to offer Amazon…if the company is smart enough to understand why.
Kindle on the Linux Desktop?
Some will ask why on earth anybody would want to read Kindle ebooks on their Linux-based desktop computer. Well, why not? People do, indeed, use the Amazon Kindle application for the Mac and Windows to read ebooks on their desktop computers.
No, reading an ebook on your desktop Linux computer is not going to be as comfortable as reading it while laying in bed. But, hey, that’s for the individual user to decide. If you aren’t interested in reading ebooks on your computer, then you don’t have to download the application.
Of course, some people might install it on their laptops or netbooks. And then they have the option of comfortably reading in bed or sitting upright. Choice is a beautiful thing!
When I’m working on my iMac, I will sometimes pull up my Kindle ebook collection via the Kindle for Mac application. I want to be able to do the same thing when running my favorite Linux distributions. My Kindle books should be available to me, regardless of the operating system I happen to be using at the time.
But what about distro developers? Where do they fit into this?
Amazon should be pursuing Linux aggressively by contacting makers of such prominent distros as Ubuntu, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, and numberous others to get the Kindle application bundled right into every Linux desktop. Amazon should also make sure that their Kindle app is available in every Linux software repository.
Imagine if every copy of Ubuntu had the Amazon Kindle application built into one of its application menus? Millions of people use Ubuntu on a daily basis. By default, Amazon would gain access to many people who might never buy a Kindle and who might not own an iPad, iPhone or other device that currently runs the Kindle ebook application.
Amazon would be very foolish to ignore the possibility of distro bundling as part of their business plan.
But Amazon’s Kindle Application Has DRM!
There are those naysayers that are going to scream bloody murder about the fact that Amazon uses its own proprietary ebook format and that the Kindle application has DRM, etc. Fine, no problem. Don’t use Kindle for Linux then. Keep it off your system and don’t support Amazon by buying Kindle books.
But others might disagree with you and might enjoy the convenience of buying books from Amazon for their Linux systems. DRM, while unacceptable to some, is not necessarily the worst of all evils.
Some people simply prefer the convenience of buying ebooks from a known entity like Amazon, DRM doesn’t bother them in the least. How many Linux users would feel this way? Well I think there are plenty of purists who might detest the idea of buying DRM-laden ebooks. But I think there are plenty of others who simply could not care less about it one way or the other.
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Let each Linux user make his or her own choice. Some will buy books from Amazon, and others won’t.
Linux: Amazon’s Secret Weapon Against Apple
By now I’m sure that most of you already know that Apple’s iPad has drawn the attention of many people who might have otherwise bought a Kindle. Amazon is in for the fight of its life against Apple’s slick, new hardware. Apple’s iPad is selling like hotcakes and is no doubt already cutting into Kindle sales.
But Amazon has a secret weapon: Linux.
Apple will never, ever release a version of its iBooks application for Linux. Ever.
So that gives Amazon (or Barnes and Noble or whoever wants to go for it) the opportunity to serve the ebook needs of Linux users. And releasing a version of the Kindle application for Linux is exactly how Amazon can gain access to the wallets of millions of Linux users.
Steve Jobs isn’t smart enough to care about the money of Linux users. Is Jeff Bezos?
Linux is getting better and better on the desktop. Millions of people use it on a daily basis, around the world. Amazon would be very, very foolish not to take advantage of this.
Amazon needs to release a version of the Kindle application for Linux. And it needs to do it soon. I have my fingers crossed that somebody at Amazon has thought this through, and that the company is quietly working on a version of its Kindle app for Linux.
Linux users are waiting to buy Kindle books, Amazon. Don’t make them wait too much longer.
Edit: I’m very pleased to note that Amazon is now offering the Kindle Cloud Reader that should work on Linux. Be sure to check it out if you want to read Kindle books on your Linux system. You may need to use Chromium though as it doesn’t seem to support Firefox right now. I’m sure that will change soon though, or at least I hope it will.
What’s your take on an Amazon Kindle application for Linux? Tell me in the comments.