Available for free on Amazon, the Kindle for Mac application lets people buy, read, and organize electronic books purchased from Amazon through the retailer's Kindle Store. Amazon offers more than 450,000 books, including 102 of the 111 New York Times bestsellers.
In launching the Mac application, Amazon expands the number of devices on which e-books bought from the company can be read. Those devices include Amazon's Kindle e-reader, the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, and a Windows PC. Amazon will also offer a version of the Kindle app for the iPad, a tablet computer Apple is scheduled to release April 3.
Amazon's e-book application automatically saves and synchronizes bookmarks and last page read across devices. This is possible because Amazon stores copies of books purchased on its servers for no additional charge.
Features that will be added to Kindle for Mac in the near future include full-text search and the ability to create and edit notes and highlights.
Apple devices are becoming a major endpoint for digital books, which are now the largest content category on Apple's App Store, BusinessWeek magazine reported this week. Indeed, Amazon nearly a year ago bought Lexcyle, maker of the Stanza e-book reader for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
While Amazon certainly wants to sell more Kindles, analysts say the company is more interested in promoting and selling e-books than in dominating the e-reader market. E-books are far more profitable for the retailer, since they don't require a warehouse and distribution costs are low.
The Amazon Kindle is the market leader today, but competition is rising quickly as the number of rivals increases. E-readers today are available from Sony, Barnes & Noble, Spring Design, and others. In addition, other mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, are expected to compete as e-book readers.