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Why can I not buy books for Kindle on my iPhone?

Why can I not buy books for Kindle on my iPhone?

This post is another prompted by a user question, ‘Why can I not buy books for Kindle on my iPhone?’ My first thought was, ‘why would you want to?’ Kindle is far superior to the iPhone for reading books. However, a little more thought wondered why you shouldn’t be able to read a book on your iPhone wherever and whenever you want.

In an age where we all want everything now, any roadblock put in the way of us getting what we want, when we want does not go down well. Yet even though Apple does it all the time, they still sell their devices by the million. There is even an official Kindle app on iTunes.

Apple in-app purchases

As the owner of the entire iPhone ecosystem, Apple has everything locked down tight. Any developer or publisher who wants to sell and app with or without in-app purchases has a lot of hoops to jump through before they are allowed to appear on iTunes. Many of these hoops are to ensure quality and security and they benefit us, the user. Some do not.

One of the conditions of offering an app on iTunes is that Apple gets a 30 percent cut of everything you sell. That includes both the app and in app purchases. That is exceptionally steep considering the average retailer works on anything between 5 and 15 percent. Some retailers get more but as an average, there are few big margins in retail. Unless you’re Apple.

Amazon’s pricing structure cannot support low prices while paying Apple a 30 percent cut. That would mean either Amazon taking a loss or hiking the price on its iOS app to cover the extra. Then nobody would use it as they could get the book cheaper directly from Amazon.


While nobody would argue that Amazon is cash poor or doesn’t make any profit, the business model is structured differently. Their plan for global domination revolves around narrow margins and low prices.

Rather than take a huge portion of fewer transactions, they take a much smaller portion out of many more transactions. They consider that by selling low, they sell more. By taking a smaller cut of each transaction but doing more of them, they still make their money. There is a saying in retail, ‘pack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’. This is Amazon’s model for success.

While Apple and Amazon have very different models, neither is better than the other in terms of economics. Both companies make mountains of cash and offer a huge range of products to their customers. The only real loser is in the PR stakes but even then, Apple seems to come out largely unscathed.

The only loser, as usual, is the customer. We are restricted in what we can do, buy, download or play within the Apple ecosystem. While you can argue that that ecosystem is more stable and secure as a result, this profiteering by Apple has nothing to do with stability or security and everything to do with profit.

Buy Kindle books on your iPhone

If you use the Kindle app on your iPhone, you will already know that you can browse books, read excerpts or free books but not buy any. This is on purpose for the reasons above. But as always, there is a way around it. You can buy Kindle books on your iPhone, just not through the Kindle app.

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone.
  2. Navigate to
  3. Sign in with your Amazon account.
  4. Buy the book you want.
  5. Select Read now and the book should open in your Kindle app.

This process should work flawlessly as you are buying a normal item through the web as you would buy anything. It doesn’t trigger Apple’s tax or use the app in any way. As long as you are logged into the same Amazon account that is linked to your Kindle app, any book your purchase should be quickly available.

You can also use the Kindle Cloud Reader if you prefer.

  1. Open Safari and navigate to
  2. Log in using your Amazon account.
  3. Select Kindle Store in the top right.
  4. Browse for books and purchase as you see fit.

The Kindle Cloud Reader is a neat app that you can use from any device. It loads books into the app and lets you read them through any browser on any device. I never even knew it existed until I was researching this piece but now I know I think I’m going to use it.

Know of any other ways to buy Kindle books on your iPhone? Tried either of these? Let us know your thoughts below.

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One thought on “Why can I not buy books for Kindle on my iPhone?”

Mike says:
Nice write-up, but incorrect. If this were the case, then no shopping apps Could actually sell anything. Amazon’s shopping app can sell anything on Amazon and Apple doesn’t get a cut. Yet you cannot purchase Kindle books via the Amazon app (not even “free” books.

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May 31, 2017

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