Monday, October 03, 2011

Great New Kindles, but They Still Suck

I've been watching the Amazon Kindle Press Release from September 28, 2011. The new Kindles are exciting, and the prices are coming down. I am intrigued by the Kindle Fire--it integrates all sorts of things, such as music, reading, and watching movies. It's in color. And yes, I did say, you can watch movies on it. And it's cheap for a tablet -- $199.

But you know what? Kindle still sucks.

I enjoy my Kindle. With a reading disability, it makes reading possible and enjoyable for me again. It's great. I like listening to books. I like being able to read classics for free. I like the nearly instantaneous delivery. I like being able to email documents for free to read on my Kindle with text-to-speech.

But what I hate, absolutely hate, is that Kindle has made it possible to download thousands of books, and find none of them.

Oh, they have collections. You can sort by title and author. But you can't sort by read and unread. And it's a pain in the butt to try and press through my hundreds of books and put them into collections, which I can't arrange the way I want to arrange them. I can't see covers, either. Not even when I open a book for the first time do I get to see the cover. Covers help me remember.

I want to be able to organize my content in the way that works for me. I want to be able to put it into hierarchies to sort it. I want a folder system.

But you know what? I'd settle for being able to manage my Kindle from my Mac. I can't. All I can do is delete and download from my archive. It would be so much easier to be able to use a keyboard where I can actually type at a reasonable speed instead of pecking out the collection names.

And given that Kindle says it wants syncing to be simple and invisible... that means, if I bust my butt to go through the incredibly awkward, tedious, and time-consuming process of setting up collections, I want them to appear on my other devices. Like my Mac.

Kindles are supposed to make reading easy -- but if you have over a hundred books loaded on your Kindle, reading is no longer easy. I want more books, I do, but I have curtailed my appetite for Kindle because I don't want to bury myself any further in books I can find and which take such a gargantuan effort to organize.

When I need to look something up in a book, I don't reach for my Kindle. I go to my bookshelf or I look it up on the web. It's just plain easier to call up the Gutenberg edition of Moby-Dick and search it than searching through a Kindle. Typing a search term on the web is so much easier than typing a search term on the Kindle.

The Kindles are now very cheap -- an ad-supported Kindle can be had for as little as $79. A lot of people are going to be getting Kindles. This is a good deal, and even though Kindle has its flaws, I still recommend it. It's still better than the competitors. But when oh when will somebody actually create a reader for people who love books?

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