I often wonder if Amazon even cares about the Kindle

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.

Collections

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.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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