Amazon is supposedly the leader in ereading technology but from the Kindle devices to the web app to the desktop software, the reading experience is inconsistent and even crude. If not for the one click buy which Amazon had patented in September 1999, Amazon’s apathetic attitude toward the software and user reading experience may have prevented it from coming to dominance.
Amazon wins right now because the buying and reading experience is virtually seamless. Has there been anything more transformative in consumer online spending that the one click buy? I mean, even Apple licenses once click for iTunes. The frictionless method of purchase is the key to device + content interrelationship.
But Amazon, for all its technology capabilities, has allowed its software and reader experience to languish. Witness the launch of the web reader from Amazon after Apple made Amazon pull the KINDLE store link from the Kindle App. The Amazon Cloud reader doesn’t work with every browser. In fact, it doesn’t work on the over 80 million iPhones and iTouches out on the market. Those device owners that can use the Amazon Cloud reader can only bookmark a page. There is no dual column capabilities either. It is one large wall of text.
You can’t highlight, type a note, or even use the social reading aspects offered by kindle.amazon.com.
Worse, the reader experience isn’t consistent from device to app. While I can email content to Kindle device, I can’t email content to the Cloud Reader or the apps. While I can create (albeit in an unweildy and almost unuseable manner) collections on the Kindle device, I cannot do so on the Cloud Reader or the Apps. While I can search on my Kindle device through all the content, I cannot do so on the Cloud Reader or the Apps. (An obvious refrain). But that does not make the Kindle device superior. Because of the tiny keyboard, making notes is a hassle. Because of the low onboard memory, searching for a particular book or author is so time consuming that I often set my Kindle aside and read through a dozen emails before the search is completed.
No Kindle platform allows me to sort my archives by RECENT purchases which is a significant flaw for anyone with over 30 books in their Kindle library. To some extent, as a big Kindle book buyer, I feel punished for my avidity.
Only the Kindle for PC allows for copying and pasting and that wasn’t rolled out until last month (July 2011). Michael Hyatt wrote an entire blogpost about how to copy and paste highlights and notes from a Kindle book.
The Princeton study on its ereader pilot program (PDF) said this:
Battery life, text resolution, internal memory, screen size and physical weight were the most highly rated features, while the Kindle web browser, navigation between books and documents, highlighting text, the keyboard, and annotating text got the lowest rankings
There is no way to mass download titles. You have to go to your Archived section and redownload books one by one. Even though you can sync individual notes and highlights, you can’t sync your entire library so that the Kindle App booklist and archives match your Kindle device booklist and archives.
The inability of readers to be able to sort, search and modify their collections is a huge oversight. The inconsistency of reader experience from platform to platform reduces reading pleasure. While buying is frictionless, the reading experience is not. Only competition, it appears, will push Amazon to provide a better, and unified, reading experience. Here are three things that Amazon can do to fulfill it’s promise to allow people to read anywhere:
- Give every platform the same features.
- Allow readers to create collections that are synched with the account and useable no matter the platform whether it is the laptop, the mobile device or the Kindle reader.
- Include a “recent purchased” sorting option.