App of the Week: Kindle

Title: Kindle
Platform: Apple iOS 3.0 or later, Android OS 2.1 or later
Cost: Free

When the July 25th update for the Kindle iOS app diabled in-app purchasing (to circumvent profit-sharing rules instituted by Apple), Amazon has added a feature many teen readers will love: support for magazine subscriptions.

While Kindle App users have had color covers and graphics for a while, subscriptions were limited to dedicated Kindle devices. Those ereaders have fans because of their excellent battery life and readable e-ink screens, but can be plain-Jane for many teen users, many of whom really appreciate the appeal of a color cover and are using their mobile devices for reading on-the-go.


Now, App-based readers of more than 100 newspaper and magazines will actually have an improved user experience because of the App’s support for color (which also suggests that a color Kindle device is imminent). The current title lists ranges from genre fiction faithfuls like Alfred Hitchcock and Analog as well as teen favorites The Onion and Shape.

Annual subscriptions and single issue pricing can be found online in the Kindle store, and while files are no longer sent automatically to devices apart from the ereader, they can easily be retrieved from an Archived Items page within the App. There have been some report of other ebook file associations creating problems with new downloads opening in Bluefire or some other format-independent reader, but the Kindle download process is barely changed.

Unlike faithful digital version of Wired now available through a standalone App, the Kindle magazines tend not to attempt to replicate the paper. In case you missed the caveats that not all content will make it to the Kindle edition, there are fewer feature photos than in print editions, but, in the case of Shape magazine, all-important illustrations for articles, workouts, and recipes seem carefully chosen.

A collapsable menu provides an overview of contents and quick links to any article. Removed from print layout, both text and image content lose some charge. In the case of the fitness magazine, shots of both Khloe Kardashian and Rosario Dawson appeared less intimidating in this format. Pictures can be enlarged beyond the display size, another advantage to the Kindle device. There are six available font sizes and a keyword search option with links to Google and Wikipedia.

One word of warning: do remember that tablets and e-readers are consumer mechanisms, so double-check the renewal cycles before scheduling delivery. At a recent workshop, a mother shared that her college-aged daughter’s automatic debits for Nook magazine subscriptions were leaving her overdrawn.

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