I resolved in January to see how long I could go without spending money on ebooks. I have just broken my buy-free chain—sort of. I received an Amazon gift card and decided that was fair game since I wouldn’t be spending money per se. And a book I once had in paper has finally made the Kindle store for $2…
Amazon has much to recommend it as an ecosystem. I love my Kobo Glo, but I loathe the Kobo iOS app, and I have recently found that much of my reading progress was getting stalled by not having the Kobo with me. So I have resumed my use of the Kindle app—at home, on the iPad Mini, and on the go, with my iPhone. This way, I can take advantage of cross-device syncing and get through more books!
But the Amazon ecosystem is far from perfect, and there are some tweaks they could implement which would make it even better. Such as:
1) Get rid of the Topaz format. I’ve read two Amazon purchases this month which, unbeknownst to me at time of purchase, were both in the Topaz format. Both of the books had horrendously poor formatting and were riddled with typos. In one case, I gave up on the book and moved on to something else. In the other case, I found an epub copy at my public library and read that instead. There is no need for the Topaz format. Any books Amazon has which remain in this error-prone relic should be upgraded to the regular Amazon .azw.
2) Enable shelving in the Archived Items area. I understand that the app now has enabled cloud collections, and that is a start. But when I log into the Manage my Kindle section of the Amazon website, I still see all my purchases in a giant list. I want to be able to see, at a glance, which books in my collection remain unread. What I’d love is if Amazon could implement a shelving system—in the apps, and on the website too—where all books get added, by default, to an ‘unread books’ shelf. And when they have been completed, the user can be prompted to move them off of there to something else. Alternatively, they could implement tagging. All books begin with an ‘unread’ tag that disappears when the book is done. You could add your own genre tags, and then just click on a tag list to sort and browse your collection as you see fit.
3) Enable bulk downloads by shelf or tag. A sorting system would enable a few other cool features, such as bulk downloading. Rather than going through your library book by individual book, you could bulk download by tag—download all your unread books onto your device in one go, or all your children’s books, or all your mystery books. You get the idea. This would make it much easier to set up devices for multiple family members. I could use the faster website interface to tag books for the Beloved, then download them onto his Android tablet with one tap.
4) Show me some stats. Another thing that the shelving or tagging system would enable is a rudimentary, but potentially cool stats function. What percentage of your library remains unread? What percentage of it was free, or self-published, or romance books? Just set the tags as you see fit, then click the stats tag to get cool data on the books you have and how they fit into your collection as a whole.
I think that overall, Amazon does provide the best buying and browsing experience. But a few little tweaks, like those I suggest above, would make it even better!
What features would you like to see at Amazon?