Amazon's Cloud Reader designed to avoid paying Apple a 30% cut

The new Kindle Cloud Reader web app is an end-run around having to pay Apple's 30% cut of stuff sold through iOS apps.
High-Priest Today, Amazon.com announced Kindle Cloud Reader, its latest Kindle reading application that leverages HTML5 and enables customers to read Kindle books instantly using only their web browser - online or offline - with no downloading or installation required. As with all Kindle apps, Kindle Cloud Reader automatically synchronizes your Kindle library, as well as your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights for all of your Kindle books, no matter how you choose to read them. Kindle Cloud Reader with its integrated touch optimized Kindle Store is available starting today for Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome.

Announcing Kindle Cloud Reader

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  1. “The new Kindle Cloud Reader web app is an end-run around having to pay Apple’s 30% cut of stuff sold through iOS apps.”

    Well, I guess.  Except they still have the app store Kindle reader as well, which got around the 30% Apple cut by simply not offering books for sale through the app.

    I suspect this is just another play to make their DRMed ebooks the DRMed ebook of choice by having readers absolutely everywhere.

    I’m always interested to see which of these two huge corporations is “worse” in BoingBoing’s eyes, because you clearly have no love for Apple’s iOS platform, but you also hate DRM lock-in so much :-)

    1. I think that’s the main thing – I’d wager that it’s intended primarily not as an iOS dodge but rather as a ubiquity play. 

      1. “Many Kindle books (including mine) are sold without DRM.”

        No, _some_ Kindle books are sold without DRM. Though it’s hard to tell how many, since there’s no indication on the purchase page that the book comes with DRM or not.

        But I don’t think that materially changes my statement. This has less to do with “an end run” or trying to upset Steve Jobs. It’s a content play. The more devices that can read their books, the better.

          1. Well, that depends. If the book is shipped in DRM’ed epub or mobi format, it’s not _too_ bad, but not something I’d expect my dad to be able to do.

            If it’s in TOPAZ format, I think you’re kind of screwed.

            Again, though, how does that NOT make this a content play? Amazon’s use case certainly isn’t “we’re expecting you to strip the DRM from our files.”

            But all this has definitely answered my original question: Apple is definitely “worse” in BoingBoing’s eyes than Amazon.

    1. So did the Financial Times. They made a very nice Web app. Remember when Jobs was all about Web apps and not so keen on iOS apps? I’ll bet he’s changed his mind.

      1. Hah, I’ll bet he did, and I’ll bet he did it a while ago. It’s just a little harder than Flash to come up with a semi-rational reason to disallow them.

        Full disclosure: I love Android =)

      2. He’d better convey that change of mind to the product and engineering teams who continue to improve iOS’ web app features and performance.

  2. This is awesome.  Kudos for an HTML5 implementation that doesn’t require a plug-in.  It’s not an end run though, just a business decision not share the profits. Hopefully they’ll get it up in Apple’s web apps site at http://www.apple.com/webapps/ so folks can find it when browsing for web-based options.

  3. This is great. However it isn’t (yet) supported within the Firefox web browser. That’s not too bad, though. Chrome is/works fine. I’ll post an update to this comment after a coupla’ times using it.

  4. So I see that it works offline.  Does anyone have any idea how many books you can store in the browser?

    1. It asks for 50MB of storage space initially. I don’t know if that gets expanded if you run out. Infinite Jest (monster of a book that it is) is under 2MB.

  5. Or just download the ebook, rip out the DRM and go on your merry way.

    Though I’m sticking with a real e-reader. the iThing is too painful to use for long.

  6. Doesn’t change the fact that Kindle takes 70% of cover price on all but low cost books – double what they and other bookstores take for ‘traditional’ sales. Kindle is a terrible deal for writers and small publishers.

    1. It’s a little more complex than that. For most of my company’s sales, we get 70% of the cover, and we’re microscopic.

      1. It depends on your cover price – under $9.99 Amazon takes 30%. Over that and they take 70%. That price might be ok for fiction, but for technical/reference/trade/academic books that means a huge price cut and loss. When we brought out our book on film financing the most similar title then cost around $300 and we priced ours at $50. On Kindle it’s $35 and I don’t think it works if we cut it to under $10 because it’s a niche subject.

        Keep in mind we also have to give 15% of cover price out in VAT (in UK at least, which uses Irish VAT rates) and pay for the download bandwidth.For this reason I’m trying to persuade everyone I know out of getting a Kindle. AFAIK Google and Apple books take a flat fee regardless of the price.

  7. Web apps are the way to go.  Why let Apple control you?

    (that said, I do realize there are also lots of benefits for devs to be in the app store in certain circumstances)

    1. Yeah, web apps are the way to go. When you have ubiquitous web access with unlimited free downloads. However, in the real world I live in, rather than your utopian fantasy world, it’s necessary to have the books natively stored on the devise, in my case an iPhone, as most of the time the only wifi I have access to is at home; if if got a patch of free time at work or at my local coffee shop, I’m lucky to get an Edge connection, very rarely a 3G one, and never free wifi. I have to go to a city 12 miles away, or the nearest McDonalds for free wifi. How, exactly, does that fit your ‘screw Apple, embrace Amazon in the cloud’ stance. The ‘Cloud’ is a fantasy that I can’t see being of any serious use until the theoretical next Gen wifi with 60mile coverage becomes reality.
      In the meantime I’ll happily keep downloading books from Kindle, Stanza and iBooks onto my phone where I can read them anytime it suits me, and not via the vagaries of whatever network coverage my IP see fit to allow me

  8. Flawless….easy to use menu, love the white on black which is too difficult to find and run in Chrome. 

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