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How to Download Kindle E-books on an iPhone

And why you can’t buy Kindle e-books from the iOS app

Akshay Gajria
4 min readAug 26, 2021

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My friend recently published her poetry collection on Kindle. It’s a gorgeous book and you should definitely check it out. But shameless plug aside, she like me owns an iPad and an iPhone and does not own a Kindle. After publishing her book, she did the most natural thing: She downloaded the Kindle app on her phone, hoping to get it there. While she could see the listing, there was no option to purchase it. I imagine she shrugged her shoulders, switched to the Amazon app. Maybe you need to buy it from Amazon directly?

She found her listing on the Amazon app but again the same problem. Where was the buy button? You could get a sample of the book. But what about purchase? And if she couldn’t buy it, would others face the same problem?

So she did what she always does when faced with a tech-related problem. She pinged me.

This was a problem I’d faced too when I published my e-book on Kindle. (Shameless plug strikes again: check it out.) There is no way to buy an e-book on the Amazon app on your iPhone. But when I opened the link on Safari on my iPad, the buy button was present. I tried opening the link on my iPhone’s Safari, and after being rudely sent to the app, the Safari page opened and the buy button sat where it should. What was going on?

After a little digging I found that this was due to Apple’s in-app purchase policy. Let me explain.

When you have an app that sells anything digital, like in a game if you buy coins or that fancy flaming sword, whatever amount you pay, 30% of it goes to Apple. Why? Because you use their payment processes to make that purchase.

But you’ve made purchases using apps like Uber and even Amazon that use their own payment methodologies. Why can’t you make use of that while buying digital goods? Becasue Apple considers all digital goods to be of notional value, intangibles. They also cite how they provide users a seamless in-app experience. For all this and more they charge a cut. This is big revenue stream for Apple, and the majority of it comes from games. But other (non-gaming) apps have the same restriction. Anything digital sold in an app from the App Store, 30% of the amount…

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