Buying Kindle books on iOS

2019-01-12 2 min read

    Earlier this week I finished an ebook on the train and wanted to purchase another one for the way back while waiting in the station. Remarkably, Apple, a company that emphasizes and takes pride in its user experience, does not make this easy. It turns out that the Kindle app on iOS does not allow you to actually purchase a book and isn’t even allowed to link to a page where it can be purchased. I understand the business rationale - Apple wants the 30% of the digital sale and Amazon doesn’t want to give it up - but it leads to an awful experience, especially when only the station has service and I know I will be signalless once I board the train.

    To be fair the entire experience felt like a race against time: can I buy the book before the train arrives? After realizing I couldn’t use the Kindle app I gave up and just went to Amazon’s mobile site. I found the book pretty easily but then had to go through the signin flow. To make things interesting Amazon decided to through a confusing captcha my way that required two attempts to get right - requiring retyping password for the second attempt. Thankfully the “Buy with 1 click” button saved the day and I was able to purchase and download the book by the time the train arrived.

    As enjoyable as the rush was it’s a terrible experience on all sides. I understand that Apple owns the entire ecosystem and wants its share of the profit but they’re really not adding much to the experience. Amazon is what’s driving my purchase and they already have my payment info stored. There’s no reason for Apple to be involved here other than to prioritize greed over user experience. I hope they change their mindset but am not optimistic.