I often wonder if Amazon even cares about the Kindle

by John Wilker in I am a Consumer, Kindle, Technology

I love my Kindle, it’s packed full of books, hundreds of them. It sucks.

Amazon from the start with the Kindle has been a weird duality. At the same time, making it super easy to buy a book, start reading it almost instantly, and making it nearly impossible to manage your library either on the Kindle or online.

Amazon has never since the launch of the Kindle had what might even be considered a strategy. As a customer, it seems they don’t care how we manage our library. I think they thought, “They’ll just have a virtual pile on their device and dig around for their next book.” Assuming they even thought about it.


Kindle for MacYou might think you could manage your library on a desktop app, that makes sense, there’s screen real estate, a rich UI, etc. NOPE.

Even collections I’ve created on my device aren’t visible in the Kindle desktop app.

Long long ago, there was a time that the Kindle firmware made managing your books pretty easy. You created collections, and there was a view that consisted only of collections and unassigned books, so once you saw only your collections, you were organized. A subsequent firmware update did away with that, forever. Thanks Obama.

(UPATE: As Mike points out in the comments, this feature is actually present. I stopped looking a long time ago, so maybe it was only missing for a point release or two, but it’s there now, which is awesome!)

Gooddreads shelvesOne might think the acquisition of good reads would make managing your library somewhat easier, or even possible. NOPE. Good reads has ‘shelves’ and you can add books to the ‘currently-reading’, and ‘read’ via your Kindle, but that’s it. Collections aren’t represented in Goodreads at all, nor are your Goodreads shelves represented on the Kindle.

As Kindle owners know, there’s the “manage your devices and content” section within Amazon. You might think you could go there to sort your vast library of books purchased from Amazon. NOPE, you can see them all listed, download them to your computer (handy for using CalibreAmazon manage your content screen to manage your library), re-deliver to your Kindle and just recently assign books to collections. That’s right, the Amazon site knows collections are a thing, knows you have them.

Awesome, except there’s no “collection view” on the site, so you can’t actually take a look at your ‘sci-fi’ collection, see what’s in it. Oh and if you want to re-assign a book to other collections, or add itAmazon manage your content screen 2 to more, once you’ve done that initial sorting, you can’t. Amazon’s site (at least on Safari) basically sucks, and you get a blank dialogue.

Initially, well ‘initially’ being the last 5 or so years I’ve owned a Kindle, I’ve endeavored to just suck it up and manage all my content on my handy little e-ink screen. It was the pits.

There are third party tools, like Calibre, that I love for managing my library, but this solution isn’t realistic for the less technically inclined. I might write up my current workflow which more or less works, until Amazon updates their ebook format, temporarily breaking things, and activating the hacker Kindle community to work on new patches. It’s tedious, but beats thumbing through screen after screen on your device for your next reading adventure.

9 Responses to “I often wonder if Amazon even cares about the Kindle”

  1. Mike Hall says:

    I’m finding this a bit confusing and you may need to be more specificabout which devices you are using. On the Kindle e-ink devices (Paperwhite) it is certainly still possible to have a view showing collections and unassigned books: use the “All items” and “Collection” view.

    And on my PC “manage your devices” has a “Collections” option under “show” which lists all the collections; click on one of the collection names and the books in the collection are listed. The design is pretty bad as you cannot control the order in which the books are listed and the default order appears arbitrary but the list is there. Or anyway it’s there on a PC; on my Android tablet none of the collection functionality appears even though I am using Chrome on both devices.

    So, Amazon definitely cares a bit but not nearly enough and could do much better. For example, adding a book to a collection is easy on the PC – I normally do it when I buy the book – but removing it is a bind and I always do this on the Kindle just to avoid the PC system. What really sucks is trying to do a major change in your collections (or even just splitting a large collection in two.)

    • John Wilker says:

      I don’t know how I missed it! Though I stopped looking many firmwares ago (RE: All items -> Collections). Thanks for correcting that oversight!

      My problem is that I don’t want to use my PC (Outside calibre for file storage) to manage my books, and my experience managing collections in “your devices and content” is hit or miss, as sometimes the page has to be refreshed to get things to display correctly etc, and as you say, removing from collections…

  2. Yep. It is a big pain in the butt…

  3. Angela Carr says:

    I have a 5th generation Paperwhite and don’t have any problems using it.I deliberately limit the number of books I have on it,at present I have under 30 books,all of which I keep in the cloud and just download one book at a time to read. When I have finished reading a book I simply move it to a collection called Finished Books and when there is a number of books I wish to delete I do so through Manage Your Content and Devices.I have been using my paperwhite since 2014 and find it an excellent way of reading books

    • John Wilker says:

      I’m glad that workflow works for you. I have hundreds of books and would prefer to manage them on device

      • Angela Carr says:

        I believe in keeping things simple and fail to see the advantage of having hundreds of books on my device.

        • John Wilker says:

          Ok, well don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad that works for you, but don’t care if you don’t ‘get it’

          I fail to see why I can’t have my library on the device I read my library on.


  4. BeeTee-Ess says:

    I agree with Angela.

    My Kindle Paperwhite is a great device for reading books, organizing them, not so good.

    So, I have just two collections on my Kindle, each with about 20 books in it. One set is mine, the other is for reading to my kids.

    Calibre, on my PC, is a great tool for organizing my books.it just may have been created with that purpose in mind. :)

    So, once the books in one of my Kindle collections have been read, it is a simple matter to delete them and copy another batch from Calibre, where the detailed organization is a breeze, and the next set for one collection or the other has already been identified and tagged.

    • John Wilker says:

      That’s my point, lots of things exist to get the job done, as do lots of ways of dealing with it. My point is, that’s not how I think it should be. Why have a kindle with 2 (IIRC, or 4) GB of storage? Clearly Amazon at some point in the process thought, “everyone will keep their library here so they can grab the kindle, and all their books are present”

      We’ve all got work arounds to the existing design.

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