Amazon is removing the ability to buy e-books in its Android apps

It felt like a sneaky hack because for years you could buy a Kindle book in the Amazon app on an Android device when you couldn’t do the exact same thing on an iOS device. But this unique relationship has ended, as first noted by Ars Technica. If you try to buy eBooks in the Amazon app on Android, you’ll now be taken to a new screen that explains why the option to buy is gone. If you update the app, you’ll see a notice similar to what you would see on an iOS device, stating that digital product purchases through the app aren’t available.

Amazon withdrew support for buying digital books from iOS devices back in 2011. The goal was to avoid the “tax” that Apple’s App Store imposes on digital goods. Comixology, the comic book app, lost the ability in 2014 shortly after Amazon acquired it. It was and is a deeply annoying by-product of the Apple App Store ecosystem. When you see a book you want to read and click the button to buy it, you will be taken to the Amazon app. Then you must immediately return to the browser, navigate to Amazon and purchase the book through that route. Not impossible – just frustrating.

In comparison, buying content on an Android device felt like you were getting away with something. That’s because while Google expected apps to use Google’s proprietary billing system for the purchase of digital goods, it’s rarely actually enforced that expectation. It made Android an attractive alternative for those of us who spend way too much time buying digital books on our devices. I went out and bought an Android E Ink tablet, partly because I was excited not to have to jump through the hoops I had on iOS.

But Google is currently cracking down on app developers who circumvent its rules. As of June 1, Google announced that it would remove apps that violate the rules of the billing system. Because of this, Amazon ended support for purchasing Audible audiobooks through the Android app on April 1, 2022, and competitor Barnes & Noble ended support for purchasing digital books through its app on April 4.

Oddly enough, in March, Google announced a pilot program that would allow app developers to use their own billing systems. The pilot program includes Spotify but not Amazon. This pilot program likely stems from Google’s legal battle with Epic Games. The crackdown on the billing system may not help Google, but much of Epic’s battle with Google revolves around the inconsistency with which it treats partners. Treating everyone equally, even if it degrades the user experience, still means treating everyone equally. Amazon is removing the ability to buy e-books in its Android apps

Fry Electronics Team

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