The Kindle needs an iTunes app

Amazon quietly roled out kindle.amazon.com the other day. It’s a pretty cool but only slightly useful idea.

picture-3 It’s a cool idea, you login with your amazon account and can see your Kindle content, mostly.

I’ve been thinking on this for a while and I think (I hope) that kindle.amazon.com is Amazon’s first step in ‘killing it’ as the kids say.

A lot of people have said, myself included, that the iPod alone wasn’t the winning solution, iTunes was a huge part the success. library management that works flawlessly with the device. The Kindle needs this, like yesterday.

The Kindle UI is craptastic, and there’s no way to manage content. iTunes is the secret sauce for the iPod/iPhone. you don’t need to keep all your stuff on the device, or manage it from the device. There’s an easy to use, clean interface on the desktop to manage all your media, then you sync what you want. It’s all contained and orderly and easy to manage.picture-6

The Kindle has nothing like that. You manage your media on the Kindle itself with basic “Remove from device” functionality, which puts (purchased) content into the archive, which Amazon stores in the cloud. You can pull archived content back into the Kindle, but that’s it. It’s on or off the device.

What about stuff you put on the Kindle yourself? You’re SOL. User created content can’t be archived, it can only be deleted. Sure you can keep it on the computer in a folder somewhere and when you plug the Kindle in you can copy it over again, but that’s janky to say the least.

kindle.amazon.com comes close, allowing you to manage your Kindle library (except you can only see it, not control/change anything) and see your annotations… on purchased content only. Content you’ve put on the device is notably missing. Meaning annotations you’ve placed on ebooks you loaded yourself are still tricky to retrieve/make use of and only available on the Kindle itself.

If Amazon really wants to nail the eBook reader market, they need to realize what Apple did, a device alone, while awesome, isn’t the solution. The desktop client that makes it easy to manage your library is a must. It might be too much to ask, but it’d be nice if the me@free.kindle.com functionality was built into the desktop app so I could convert my PDFs etc on my own and sync over USB.

I think the first company to launch a nice and easy to use eBook reader (the Kindle MOSTLY fits the bill) AND desktop library management application will be the winner. Until then, the race isn’t won and I hope Amazon doesn’t drop the ball at this important point in the eBook race.

4 thoughts on “The Kindle needs an iTunes app

  1. Tom Gonzalez

    One has to wonder what the boys and girls in Cupertino will come out with on the rumored 7-10" touchscreen tablet…. If Apple can lock up some publishing rights and deploy Books to their new table in glorious full color (and solve the battery issue) Apple could sew up the deal. They already have the infrastructure, distribution mechanism, etc.. Then you could read AND listen to music, or watch movies, or TV etc…. But they would have to make it pretty darn light.

  2. John Wilker Post author

    Yeah as much as I'd bitch slap the Queen of England for a nice portable tablet running OS X, that was more user friendly than my old Nokia N800, I'm not sold on reading on it.

    Battery life wouldn't be a HUGE deal except when I travel, since I'm a OCD nut about plugging things in. Just in case teh zombie apocolypse comes and I only have half a charge.

    The screen will be the thing for me. I really can't read for long periods on backlit screens. the reflectivity, and harshness just mess me up.

    eInk has it's limitations, but for eBooks, it's spot on.

    You're right though, if Apple could lock in some distribution, brow beat the DRM thing out, and make it as seamless as music is now, Amazon better watch out. Their position isn't secure yet.

  3. Len Edgerly

    This really makes sense, and I hadn't thought this clearly about the lack of an iTunes-like organizing app for Kindle content. kindle.amazon.com shows what might be possible. And I agree on the phantom Apple Kindle Killer tablet. I'll definitely get one, but I can' believe it will replace my Kindle for long-form immersive reading, especially at the beach.

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