Can an iPad Read Kindle Books?

And how do I buy Kindle books on the iPad?

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Getty Images / Jordan Siemens

If you are wondering, the iPad absolutely can read Kindle books. In fact, the iPad makes an awesome e-reader. The newest iPads have an improved anti-glare screen and the Night Shift feature can take the blue light out of the iPad's color spectrum during the evening, which some studies suggest can interfere with sleep.

The newest iPad Pro models sport a True Tone display that shifts the color spectrum based on the ambient lighting. This mimics how objects in the "real world" look a little different under natural light versus artificial light. But what really makes the iPad a great e-reader is its ability to support Kindle books, Barnes and Noble Nook books and other third-party e-books along with the iPad's own iBooks.

How Do I Read My Kindle Books on the iPad?

The first step is to download the free Kindle reader from the App Store. The Kindle app is compatible with both Kindle books and Audio Companions, but not with Audible books. (More on those later!) You can also read books from the Kindle Unlimited subscription, and use the Amazon Cloud Reader if you don't want to download the Kindle app.

After you download the Kindle app, you will need to log in to your Amazon account. This will allow the app to download the books you have bought on Amazon. One you have connected the Kindle app to your account, you are ready to start reading. The app is divided into five tabs that are accessed via the buttons at the bottom of the screen:

  • Library. This is your entire Kindle library. Books that you have downloaded will show up with a checkmark in the bottom right corner. You will need to download a book to read it, but once you've downloaded it, you can read it online or offline.
  • Community. This tab gives you access to Goodreads, which is a social network for book lovers. Goodreads is a great place to share your bookcase with other friends or avid readers, and it is also a great place to discover new books.
  • Your current book. The book you are currently reading will show up in the middle of the tab buttons.
  • Discover. Amazon will use your reading habits to pair you with similar books. While you cannot buy books directly from the Amazon app, you can put them on your wishlist, which makes them easier to find when you go to Amazon.com directly.
  • More. If you need to change your settings or sign into a different account, you can do this within the More tab. 

Tip: The iPad can easily become filled with apps. Two quick ways of launching the Kindle app without searching through several pages of icons is to use the Spotlight Search feature to search for it or to simply ask Siri to "open Kindle". Siri has all kinds of cool tricks up her sleeve.

How Do I Buy Kindle Books on the iPad

This is where it gets tricky. You can browse through and read Kindle Unlimited books through the Kindle app, but you cannot buy Kindle books. This is a restriction from Apple limiting what can be sold through an app. But don't worry, you can buy Kindle books from your iPad. You simply need to use the Safari web browser and go directly to amazon.com.

After you buy the book through the web browser, you will be able to open the Kindle app and read it almost immediately.  The book will need to download first, but you will be amazed at how fast it shows up in the list.  And if you don't see it, there is a Sync button in the bottom-right corner of the library on the Kindle app to refresh all of your purchases.

How Do I Change Fonts, Change the Background Color and Search the Book?

While you are reading a book, you can access the menu by tapping anywhere on the page. This will bring up a menu across both the top and the bottom of the iPad's display.

The bottom menu is a scroll bar that allows you to quickly scroll through pages. This is great if you are resuming a book you've already started from another source like the actual hardcover. (The Kindle app should resume where you left off even if you read it on another device, so you shouldn't need to do this to continue reading from a book you started on your Kindle.) 

The top menu gives you a number of options. The most important is the font button, which is the button with the "Aa" letters. Through this sub-menu, you can change the font style, the size, the background color of the page, how much white space to leave in the margins and even change the brightness of the display.

The search button, which is a magnifying glass, will let you search the book. The button with three horizontal lines is the menu button. You can use this button to go to a specific page, listen to the audio companion or read through the table of contents.

On the other side of the menu is the share button, which will let you send a text message with the book's link to a friend, a bookmark of annotations, the x-ray feature that brings up information about the page including definitions of some of the terms and a bookmark button.

How Do I Listen to My Audible Books?

If you have a collection of Audible books, you will need to download the Audible app to listen to them. Unfortunately, the Kindle app only works with audible companions. The Audible app works similar to the Kindle app. After signing in with your Amazon login, you will be able to download your Audible books to the iPad and listen to them.

If I Have an iPad, Should I Be Using iBooks Instead of Kindle?

Here's the great thing about the iPad: it really doesn't matter if you use iBooks or Amazon's Kindle app for reading.  They are both very good readers.  Apple's iBooks has a neat page-turning animation, but Amazon has the largest library of books available and nice features like Kindle Unlimited.  

If you like to comparison shop, using both e-readers will allow you to compare prices against each other.  And don't forget to check out all of the free books available that are in the public domain.