Last week, Joanna wrote about giving up on the iBooks app. It generated quite a number of comments, but one in particular, from reader Michael W. Perry, caught my eye. He said:

“One final note. You’re starting to discover an issue that ebook retailers have been averting their eyes from. In the near future, ebook buyers are going to become upset when they realize that ebooks have a major headache, they’re scattered across two or more apps and most people have trouble remembering which book is where. Settling on one app is a poor answer. That app may not have the features you want or access to an ebook you want. It’s a bit like having several apartments and never being able to remember which has the shelves with a particular book you’re looking for.”

His comment made me think. Is this a real issue, or do readers just not care? Do they not worry about multiple reading apps, or do they just buy from one retailer? I decided to throw the question out on KindleKorner. I’ve been a member of the group for several years now, and I’ve found them to be a good cross-section of the e-reading public. There’s a mix of techies, technophobes and technophiles. I thought their opinions would give an indication of the thoughts of the e-reading public in general.

Here were some of their comments:


“If ebooks do go totally mainstream, where there are more readers of ebooks than DTBs, I am sure there will be tons of ways to organize them. Just look at how many apps there are for iPhones and Android phones, and Windows phones and whatever comes along next. I guess what I am trying to say is that people are resourceful. Just because one person doesn’t see an easy way to do it doesn’t mean that 1,000 others don’t see it as simple.”


“Reading on multiple devices is not an issue for me. I was reading on a
Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, but I bought an iPad Mini and installed the
Kindle, Nook, Books on Board, and Kobo apps. I buy books where they are
the cheapest, and more often than not read on the iPad.”


“I simply buy from Amazon. They have hundreds of books I would like to read, but will never finish in this lifetime. If there is a book I can’t live without, I can go to the library and take the book home, or buy the book from someone who sells it. 90% of my reading is done on my Kindle, and Amazon works for me.”


“I can barely read the books available on Amazon, much less go to another source for more! The only time I get an electronic book that’s not on Kindle is usually for a review or a freebie promotion from an author friend. Then I ask for a pdf version, and send the email to Amazon to convert it to kindle. I love Kindle!”


“I also get my ebooks from Amazon and read on my Kindle Keyboard. I may look
at publishers’ websites, but when I buy I just find it easier to buy from Amazon.”


“I buy almost exclusively on Amazon, too, for the Kindle. As far as I know,
the Kindle is the only ereader with TTS, (except for the iPhone and iPad),
and Amazon has a significantly larger and more extensive collection.”


“I just don’t buy books from sources I can’t remove the DRM from—in practice, this is just iTunes. Everything else gets DRM removed and stored in Calibre, where I can convert it to read on my Kindle (or anywhere else I might care to). In practice the large majority of my reading material is not bought at all, but published freely on sites such as The non-Amazon places I buy books from generally provide multiple formats for each title (O’Reilly, Baen).”

The response that seemed closest in agreement with Perry was this one, from Becca:

“This problem is why I use Calibre and the Apprentice Alf plugins, so I can have every book I buy in one format (Kindle), so I don’t have to remember which app opens which book. I can’t imagine anything more annoying.”

So I think Carl’s answer of, “I guess what I am trying to say is that people are resourceful,” is spot on. Many of the responders above have been reading e-books long enough to amass libraries in the thousands. If they haven’t seen it to be a problem, my theory right now is that this isn’t going to be a problem in the near future.

Thanks to all the folks on KindleKorner who contributed quotes!

Any of our readers have an opinion?


  1. I’m like Ken, I use Calibre and remove the DRM from any book I’ve bought that has DRM. I have ShuBook and Marvin on my iPad. I’d actually prefer to have all of my eBooks loaded into one app but the differences in my eBooks and the features that each app has makes it necessary for me to have two. Unfortunately there is no one single app that meets my requirements and allows me to have all of my eBooks stored there. I certainly wouldn’t want more that two. I don’t want to have a separate app for each bookstore that I purchase my eBooks from. That would just be far too confusing for me!

    The majority of my eBooks are loaded on to the ShuBook app – currently over 2500 eBooks. With that number of eBooks the ShuBook app meets all of my requirements for a large number of my eBooks. I also have around 100 eBooks loaded on to the Marvin app – these are my non-fiction eBooks (biographies, recipe books, text books etc) as Marvin seems to have a better display for photos, diagrams etc.

  2. I think the answer to this question depends on whether you have a large TBR list or not. If you buy and read right away and don’t intend to go back and read again, then you don’t really need to keep track of what book is accessible from which store/account/app/device. However, if you are like me, and buy books when the mood strikes or the price is right, acquiring a large number of books in the To-Be-Read pile, then you don’t want to have to go searching through all your accounts to find the book you want to read next.

    Until publishers and booksellers remove DRM from their books, those of us who buy more than we can read will either resort to stripping DRM and using Calibre to organize our books or we will just stick with the retailer we like the best so we don’t need to deal with it.

  3. I buy books wherever they are cheapest and keep track of where they are with goodReads. Sometimes the print copy of the book is cheapest and I don’t always remember if my copy is print or ebook (let alone whether the ebook is from B&N, Amazon, or so on).

  4. Despite being a programmer and owner of different gadgets, I tend to stick with one app and device. It makes things easier. I could, of course, buy on the cheapest platform then remove DRM, convert, and transfer, but that ‘s a lot of work to save a few bucks. I suppose it could all be automated with scripts, but it is just as easy to hit the buy button and not worry about all that other stuff.

    Every now and then I’ll go outside my default reader source, but it isn’t often.

  5. Greg, I agree with you. I’ve got to get a really good deal, like a book for $2.99 that’s $9.99 elsewhere, to go through the hassle. Which is why Amazon gets most of my business. I’m pretty confident their prices are competitive.

  6. Well, Greg M., about not worrying with removing DRM, if you don’t pretend to read the books in the future that’s OK, but technologies change, books or bookstores disappear, and then you can’t read THAT book again… I’ve been through 3 closing bookstores and one change in formats, and fortunately I had my ebooks available in my PC, free of DRM. I’m not going to trust any one my ebooks.

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