Even though I have had an iPad for a while, I haven't taken the plunge to buy any ebooks yet. I'd like to make a decision on whether to prefer buying iBooks or Kindle before I buy any so that I can keep my collection in one place.

iBooks or Kindle: What are the reasons to choose one or the other?

I also have an iPhone for some reading, and don't imagine I'll ever buy the Kindle hardware (as nice as they are at present).

  • Very good question. +1 for asking it.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 19:38
  • 4
    I know you don't imagine ever buying a Kindle reader of any sort, but I did and I didn't look back. For reading novels, eInk and a Kindle Touch is +100 better than the "bulky" iPad and it's glossy screen. If reading text is your thing, a Kindle is the way to go. (Off topic, but wanted to mention this because I own two kindles and have (or had) an iPad 1, 2 and iPhone2G, 3G 3GS 4 and 4s as well as some Android devices. Of all that, the best reading experience has been given by the Kindle Touch surprisingly, since I loved my Kindle Keyboard (3g) Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 21:45
  • @MartínMarconcini Thanks, that's a good point. Ultimately (spoiler alert), I did decided on the Kindle store, mostly for the portability option. I still don't have a Kindle, but could see myself getting one, as cheap as they are becoming and if I were to spend much more time reading.
    – Nicole
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 0:38
  • @bmike Thanks for the bounty! This has brought many new and good answers.
    – Nicole
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 0:40
  • It deserved better. And yes - once you get enough books in the kindle store, it's almost inevitable you will get a kindle reader in addition to an iPad - especially for in-between pad/phone as well as when you really want as close to a book in weight and to get away from LCD screens for longer reading.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 1:30

12 Answers 12


The iBooks app is better. But Amazon Kindle Store is cheaper and has a superior selection.

The books

Publishers are responsible for creating and making available the books in each store. Sometimes a book is exclusive to one store. In that case, you have no option of where you purchase it.

When a book is available in both stores, you must compare the price and quality on a book-by-book basis. This is easy to do because both stores offer free sample chapters. Books tend to be better formatted in the iBooks Store than in Kindle's Store. This can be critical for some genres, such as technical/programming books with graphics, code samples, and tables.

The ecosystem

iBookstore purchases can only be read on iPhone/iPod touch/iPad/Mac. Kindle purchases can also be read on Amazon's dedicated Kindle devices, Microsoft Windows, iOS, BlackBerry, Mac OS X, Android, webOS, Windows Phone, as well as in a web browser.

The apps

iBooks app:

  • better interface (you even can turn off the skeuomorphic design features, if you prefer)
  • it has less features, but the features it does have are better: dictionary, highlighting, type/fonts, footnotes, navigation, look and feel
  • better PDF support
  • iBookstore built-into-the-app for convenient browsing and purchasing

Kindle app:

  • Sharing feature where you can publicly publish snippets from your book to kindle.amazon.com for linking-to in Twitter/Facebook. Example.
  • Amazon creates an email address for you to send documents to your Kindle via email. E.g. [email protected]
  • Con: You have to jump out to the web browser to browse and purchase content.

On an iPad, I prefer reading in iBooks because Apple executes the fundamentals better. Amazon's Kindle app has some nice differentiating features, though. All that said, at the end of the day, nothing's better than reading a basic novel on a standalone e-ink Kindle device.

  • 2
    The skeuomorphic design is much less of a problem now that you can turn off the fake page-edge. They have also added a night mode, which was the main reason I used the Kindle app before. I also find iBooks' fonts to be much better. Between these things I prefer iBooks as well.
    – Peter Roe
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 15:47
  • Thanks, Peter. I incorporated your comment about full screen mode (turning off skeuomorphism). I just checked -- Kindle currently has the Night mode as well. Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 15:56

I use both. I use whichever one has the book I want for cheaper, and since I really only use the iPad to read with, I am not fussed by which one is cross platform. Since they are both free, and the books still have to be bought, and feature wise they are both fairly much the same in usability.

One large advantage of Kindle store books is that you can read them on your mac (or PC) whereas there is no good reading solution for iBooks on a mac (or PC). You can take both reading software through their paces using similar free books and sample chapters from the respective stores.

In general, the effort taken to digitize the books has far more influence on how they look than does the conduit / store used to buy them. Both companies have very good customer support and both have refunded me when a purchase was problematic or unintentional. I feel like both Amazon and Apple are looking to take care of me as a customer as opposed to a "all sales final" approach.

  • I would like to second the both recommendation. Currently many books are only available in one store or the other - so we don't have an even content field at the moment.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 21:52
  • Good points, however, I have to note that there is something to be said for having a book collection in one place, for long term purposes. It's worth at least a few dollars difference to me.
    – Nicole
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 0:42
  • Although there are several great answers - this one gets my bounty even if it's not the OP's selected answer. Using both seems worth the hassle of not having everything in one pot given the realities of limited selection and platform specific formats in early 2012.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:41

iBooks for iPad is free. Amazon Kindle Reader for iPad is free. Both systems have free books that you can download and read. So install both, get some free books for both, and try them out. Then decide if you want to buy some books from one or both services.

  • 2
    Such a subjective question, and answered thoroughly appropriately.
    – Swizzlr
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 11:12

Kindle, because you can then read your books on any platform. If you buy them through iBooks, you can only read them on iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.

  • 1
    And the Kindle is an awesome device to read from too. Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 16:30
  • 2
    He's only reading on the iPad today (or at least, at the time the question was asked), but he might want to read the books he purchases now on different devices in the future.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 19:28

My thoughts given the new iBooks Author release and the like:

Generally, not much has changed.

The iBooks reader app remains the superior app for reading on an iPad, and the introduction of the slick, interactive eBooks that will be coming out with the introduction of iBooks Author just solidify this.


The Kindle App remains far more flexible if you care about having your library readable on multiple platforms. I didn't didn't think I cared much, but I've used both the cloud and Mac readers for the Kindle, and appreciated their availability. Apple has had more than enough opportunity to come out with clients - I think it's clear by now that its not a priority for them to do so.

So if you can only see yourself reading on an iDevice, go with iBooks. If you see yourself switching, dabbling, or going back and forth between an iDevice and any other format, stick with Kindle.


I have both an iPad and a Kindle 3, and iBooks and Kindle books. I find I read the Amazon ebooks more, since there currently seems to be a wider selection of ebooks to browse on Amazon, and more devices on which I can read Kindle content. Just finished another Kindle book, mostly read on my iPhone 4, not the Kindle 3.


I use both but generally find iBooks more capable. I have many pdf documents and iBooks handles them well (imported through iTunes on the Mac). Also the ability to almost effortlessly check a word definition with ePub books in iBooks is very useful (double tap and select 'definition'). This is a significant advantage over physical books where a dictionary offers the same functionality but is just not as likely to happen. Kindle has a much larger selection of books and I use it to get free samples.


Get some sample chapters and see. I prefer the reading experience of the iBooks app, but it doesn't extend beyond my iPhone and iPad. Kindle books can be read on many more devices.

If you are prepared to fiddle, you can convert a purchased Kindle book into a normal ePub file which is readable in iBooks. You cannot do this the other way around.


If the Price of the book is the same. Then I would go with the iBook version.

You can use the kindle app with no issues that I have found, but the iBook is a bit more refined and smoother in page turn animation (curl of page).

On the Kindle, I have turned off the page curls an set it to slide side ways. Because its not that great.

But both are good to read with and at the end of the day I do not hold a e-book in the same regard as a real paper one.

Where as with real paper books I will Try and by a Hardback as apposed to a Paperback. Price only coming into it if I am feeling skint.


Without a doubt, iBooks. Apple created iBooks to work seamlessly with their own products. With that in mind, iBooks is sure to deliver the best reading experience on your iPad as opposed to any other reading app. For simplicity, choice, and integration between devices, iBooks is definitely the way to go.


iBooks: Looks better, nicer store - feels more like a book. Books can also be interactive.

Kindle: Often cheaper, and crucially for me - works across devices from nearly all manufactures: My Windows 8 laptop, Kindle Paperwhite, Nexus 7 - you name it, there's probably a Kindle app for it. There's even a web based reader.


You cannot easy annotate iBook pdf and I use Goodreader. But iBook present better. Hence sometimes I have to get to the PDF I send to iBooks.

If you turn on the iCloud sync, it is in the iCloud drive but hidden. You may like to use the following procedure to retrieve it.

If you do not want to go through terminal (and use ls -al etc.) try this:

  • copy a named pdf say "a=pdf.pdf" to ibook
  • search for a=pdf.pdf
  • if there is no such second copy, try this further

    add pdf as a kind into the search field (whatever the search is) search for "a" instead of "a=pdf.pdf" (or any other possible filename) just a your file would appear (as the original copy) click the open the enclosing folder

It works under El Captain just a moment ago.

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