Amazon dances around Apple restrictions with ‘free sample’ search inside Kindle for iOS app

Amazon dances around Apple restrictions with ‘free sample’ search inside Kindle for iOS app ...

Amazon has released an update to its Kindle for iOS app, and it features (for the first time ever) the ability to search its catalog of books online. This is a departure from the past versions of the app, which forced you to jump out to Amazon’s website to search for or buy books.

That restriction came from Apple’s App Store rules, which forbid apps from offering items for purchase that do not give the company its 30% cut of sales. Amazon wasn’t about to slice off that much of its cut of the profits after already splitting it with publishers, so the app has remained ‘purchase free’ for years now.


This latest edition, however, allows users to search Amazon’s online library for books with ‘free samples’ available. Users can download the sample and read it to their heart’s content. When they’re finished with the sample section, they’re presented with a ‘before you go’ screen that allows them to email themselves a purchase link for the book.

Previously, the search field would only search a user’s existing library.


Yes, it’s convoluted, but it also offers a significantly improved user experience for those ‘just looking for a book’. It lets them grab the book quickly for free and, once they’re locked in, offers them a way to purchase it from a link. I believe, just breezing over the guidelines again, that it also does not violate the rules of the App Store as they stand. We’ve reached out to Apple to clarify.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 10.50.46 AM

We’ve reached out to Amazon to clarify the scope of the books available with free samples, though the update does say ‘millions of books’ and casual searches for popular authors and titles all returned results. The endgame would be for them to get samples available for all popular titles.

This update also brings the ability to use custom purchased dictionaries and a guide to accessibility in the app. It also improves cover load times.

Kindle for iOS

Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service

Read next: Photo sharing service SmugMug gets a makeover with new personalized sites and responsive design