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Limited Kindle book organization mechanisms

August 2, 2011

While in general I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Kindle platform (both the hardware ereader and their various smartphone and tablet applications), I have to confess that I find it puzzling that Amazon provides so few ways to help users organize their books. You can sort books by author, title, or read / download date. And on the latest Kindle hardware you can create and place books in collections.

But beyond that, there’s not much you can do. No automatic organization by genre. No ability to tag and sort by tags. And no support for the feature I most want: separating books into read and unread. I occasionally take advantage of free Kindle books that Amazon offers, and as result I’ve accumulated a fair collection of books that I haven’t yet had time to read. However, there’s no easy way to quickly identify those books from within my larger Kindle library. That seems like such an obvious oversight I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t addressed it yet. If we have unwatched/partially watched/fully watched for movies and podcasts in iTunes, why can’t Amazon provide similar functionality for books?

I could understand that Amazon might not want to introduce the additional complexity into the UI for their own dedicated hardware ereader (although they’ve already introduced collections, so providing default read/unread collections isn’t a big step; and tags are just a special kind of collection), but I’d think that their phone and tablet applications could handle the slight addition of complexity with ease. But if anything, their mobile apps are less capable than their hardware (I’m pretty sure you can’t even create collections in their mobile apps).

I haven’t done as much experimentation with Apple’s iBooks or with Google’s new Books offering. Anyone know if they offer better mechanisms for organizing your ebooks?

From → Books, Design, Software

2 Comments
  1. Ken permalink

    It’s also maddening that, once things are in a collection on the Kindle, you are still very limited in what you can do with them.

    For example I recently read a large number of short stories as part of a reading group I was participating in which were circulated as MS .doc files that I downloaded to my Kindle because I didn’t want to read them on my bloody computer.

    But when I’m done with them, I have to go through and delete them one by one by one. And we know how fast that goes with slow e-ink and no way to do multiple selection…

    That and forming the bloody collections in the first place is so hard.

    This is something I’ve thought about a lot in the context of this class of devices and it was the motivation behind some of the “informal organization” techniques that were included in my most recent Pen & Touch work (http://kenhinckley.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/paper-pen-touch-new-tools).

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