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2013 BEA Amazon Roundtable

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I was invited to participate in an Amazon Roundtable. There were three authors present: CJ Lyons, Stephanie Bond, and Hugh Howey.  The first two are Kindle Millionaires, or authors who have sold over 1 million kindle copies.  Howey is apparently 300,000 sales away from that mark.

Also present was Nader Kabbani and Libby Johnson McKee from KDP and Createspace.

The others included Jane Friedman (formerly of Writer’s Digest), David Vandagriff of the Passive Voice, Len Edgerly of the Kindle Chronicles, Porter Anderson (Writing on the Ether), Amy Edelman (Indie Reader), Jason Boog (GalleyCat) and Mercy Pilkington (Good E-Reader).

CJ Lyons shared that she was frustrated at the pace of traditional publishing. She is a prolific writer and self publishing suits her writing pace. Lyons also traditionally publishes but she did not speak of this much during the meeting.  She self-published four titles in 2010 and by January 2011 was making a living writing.

She became a NYTimes bestseller when she put her title Blind Faith on sale for 99c.  Most of her books are priced $4.99.  She sent out a newsletter asking her readers to do her a favor and put her into the top 25 on the Kindle Bestseller list. They responded and she ended up #2 on the NYTimes list and #12 on the USA Today list.  She said that her market share is around 250,000 to 300,000 readers and she is trying to grow her readership.

Stephanie Bond has published over 50 books. She was able to reclaim some of her backlist titles and put a dozen of them up for sale on Kindle in 2011.  Within six months she was making a living off her KDP sales alone.  She did not like traditional publishing’s protracted book scheduled or the project by committee.  She is thrilled to get her books out quickly.  She has a new series called 2 Guys Detective Agency that is exclusive to Amazon and has been optioned by the producer behind Bones.

Hugh Howey calls himself an accidental bestseller. Howey was charming and self effacing and respectful of both Lyons and Bonds, and pretty much nothing like how he presented himself in the infamous blog post. It was quite the dissonance so I emailed Howey after the event which was kind of a strange thing because I hardly ever email anyone that I don’t know unless it was about business.  And this wasn’t at all business related and I felt like I was attacking him in some way.  But I also wanted to have the opportunity to share with him how the blog post came across to me and I have to confess that his explanation made sense to me.  To wit, it never occurred to him that it would be taken in a sexually connotative way and now when he looks back on it, there is no other way for him to read it.  I got the impression that he not only truly regrets ever saying it but that he has a new appreciation for gendered language.

I came away from the conversation both grateful that he took the time to explain his position and that he did so without rancor in response to my somewhat weird email.

He mentioned he could live off his audio book royalties alone.  This is consistent with what I’ve heard about another major self publishing star – that her ACX audio book royalties are quite large.

The theme from the three authors is that Kindle Direct Publishing has made it possible for them to make a living as an author. This was echoed by Mr. Kabbani; the goal, Kabbani said, is to reach out to authors who are neglected and enable them to write for a living.

After the introductions there was actually very little time to talk. I recommended that Amazon create a nook conversion kit. I’ve heard from a lot of readers that they are ready to move from Nook to Amazon but have hundreds of epub books.  Amazon has the capability of converting an epub to a mobi through its KindleGen program.  I asked that they incorporate that into their Personal Document Service.

Len Edgerly recommended that they not have a two tiered system – treating books separately that you sideload (such as not showing public highlights and notes of books you may have purchased elsewhere) v. the ones you buy from Amazon.

There was some talk, led by Amy Edelman of indiereader, about promoting self published books as something unique and special, much like the indie music label or the indie film label. Authors felt that only a few of their readers knew that they were self published but that some readers did email to find out where the best place to purchase the book was.  Hugh Howey believed that much of his cachet was due to being a self published author. When he was being courted by major publishers his question was how much they were going to pay him to give up the label of “self published.” Admittedly, that is the source of much of his publicity and celebrity – like a small town boy made good.

IndieReader wants to capitalize on that type of sentiment that is attached to Howey.  I admit to being a bit skeptical about the average reader caring that a book is self published or traditionally published and suggested that the major cachet of the self published book is price. I could be completely wrong about that (you let me know in the comments).

After the meeting, I was invited to do two things.  Submit ideas about Goodreads integration with Amazon and submit ideas on how to improve the Kindle reading experience.  I’d like to do this but I want to include your input.  In the comments, would you share your gripes and wishes for an improved digital reading experience? I will send this thread and a letter to the two contacts I was given for this.  

If you have any questions, let me know.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

71 Comments

  1. Jill Myles
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:28:15

    I would like that if amazon had on its recommendation engine the ability to “Never show me this book again”. There are some that pop up over and over again, and I’d love to filter down on certain subjects.

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  2. liz
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:28:42

    I would like to see an easier way to “check out” ovedrive library books on the Kindle Tablets. My mom has no problem buying or borrowing a kindle book through the kindle book store app, but the different sites involved confuse her when getting library books.

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  3. Brian
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:41:27

    IMO one of the best things Amazon could do is make the Kindle reading experience as consistent as possible from app to app to device to device (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, eInk, Fire, etc). Obviously they can’t be 100% the same, but they can offer the same overall feature set on the eInk devices and the apps for various ecosystems instead of offering one feature set for Android and a different one for iOS and the like. Also more adjustability and a little bit less ‘Amazon knows best’ in the settings for all their readers/apps would be nice (officially allow font sideloading, more margin & line space adjustment options, etc.). All apps should offer the ability to organize things through Collections (or some other method that’s consistent across platforms).

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  4. Jen
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:44:18

    More organization options!!!

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  5. Fiona
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:48:20

    @Jen:

    THIS. So many times over it’s not even funny.

    I know you can organize on the regular Kindle, but I would LOVE to make folders through the Kindle Fire and be able to drag and drop books into different folders, for example, having the ability to drag and drop Laura Kinsale into a folder marked Historical Romance.

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  6. Julia Gabriel
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:56:18

    As an author, I would love it if Goodreads reviews could automatically get imported into Amazon. I know some authors probably ask reviewers to post on Amazon too, but I’m not comfortable bugging people to do things like that.

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  7. Diane P
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:03:00

    I have an old Kindle & an IPad which I do most of my reading on. I want to comment about the software which I think could be improved. (I have played with my daughter’s Kindle Fire & really don’t find it user friendly.)
    I’d like to see Amazon add some options: I’d like to be able to tag, rate & comment on the books I’ve read for only my eyes. I’d like to be able to shelve my books & take them off my device without having to delete them. (I love to shelve my actual keeper books.) It looks like others have organizational concerns too. I do go back & re-read my books so I want them available but not right in my face. That way I can see my TBR pile easier.

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  8. Kim
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:06:15

    I’m probably in the minority, but it does make a difference to me whether something is self-published or traditionally published. I only purchase self-published books from authors that come from traditional publishing. Even with the sample option, I don’t think you can get a true picture of the quality of the product. I prefer to go with an author that’s at least been “vetted” by New York. In the future, I’d probably make an exception for a self-published book that’s garnering great reviews, but that would be an isolated case.

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  9. Angela James
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:15:06

    @Jill Myles: Yes, 1000x, yes!

    I have two small things I’d like, when speaking of the apps, not the device: One is to have a shelf that’s like the ones already showing of “books” and “docs” but this one would be “samples”. Something that lets me go to where all the samples I’ve downloaded are grouped.

    The other is that I’d really love to be able to copy text. Often I don’t want to highlight or note (or share from within book, which is generally too public) I want to copy it from the book, into a document, text, email or tweet.

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  10. Suzy
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:17:17

    After reading some really really bad fan fiction and unpublished stories, not to mention some badly written publisher released fiction, I am truly hesitant about reading self-pub’d stories.

    What would it take me to read a self-pub’d book? A really positive review by someone I trust at librarything.com. That person(s) has to be someone who is a regular there and whose opinion I trust to speak honestly.

    Goodreads reviews? don’t trust them.

    My reading time has become limited so I am very careful about what I read. Do I miss some really good books? Yes, but that’s my choice. As it stands, my TBR pile would bury me if it fell over!

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  11. Brianna (The Book Vixen)
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:17:44

    Re: Julia’s suggestion

    I don’t like the “automatically” part. There will have to be an opt-out option. There’s a reason I, as a reader/reviewer, no longer post my reviews on Amazon. On a rare occasion I do but for the most part I avoid doing so.

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  12. LauraB
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:21:52

    2 things:

    1. Like everyone, I would like to see greater organizational options for my Kindle App. Please some granularity (such as being able to organize by author and title or title and date or date and author). Being able to organize into shelve or collections would be nice. iBooks allows users to create shelves.

    2. I’d like to be able to access personal docs from the Amazon website not just on a single device.

    Thanks!

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  13. Allison
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:22:13

    It’s not really a “reading” issue but they really need to improve how you can search for books in your archives. I find it irritating that there are so few search options. Even adding fiction and non-fiction would help. If you have an archive of any size it is not enjoyable to page through hundreds of pages trying to find a book. Even if it could pnly be improved on the website it would be helpful.

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  14. Kristi Lea
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:28:43

    I have a Kindle Fire and love it for the actual book reading experience. I have been successful at checking out overdrive books from my local library onto the kindle–maybe it’s my library, but they link me right through to the kindle site where I choose whether to send the book directly to the fire or to my phone. I did have one checkout that required me to side-load the book, but I suspect that it was a publisher restriction (and a silly one at that…I guess they hope that users will get so frustrated at the process that they give up and go buy the book? Fat chance…if I got annoyed I would actively AVOID those books for purchase because I’m spiteful that way)

    The Kindle Fires (or future tablets) need a memory card slot. Amazon cloud drive only works as long as you’re on a network (I don’t pay AT&T 3g rates for the 5% of the time when I don’t have a wifi signal).

    My biggest beef is with magazines. I have tried the free subscriptions to a couple of my print magazines (Cooking Light and Better Homes and Gardens, plus trial issues of others). Every magazine seems to have its own special “app” for reading. I can’t copy/paste out of them into an Office Doc or EverNote or anything (hello, I’m reading cooking magazines with Recipes…). Each magazine issue is like 300MB so i can’t just keep three years worth of six different titles sitting on the Kindle–note my gripe about lack of memory card slot!

    Get the magazine vendors into line and make the reading experience between different ones consistent. Compress those suckers or something so they aren’t so blasted slow to download (and so big to keep around) And for goodness sake, let me clip recipes! I would happily switch the dozen or so magazine subscriptions to digital if they could make it as nice as the books are.

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  15. Dabney
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:33:49

    I’m with the consistent across all Kindle reading applications, especially the ability to import and export Collections. Also, it would be lovely to be able to sort by pub. date.

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  16. wikkidsexycool
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:33:55

    Hi Jane,

    I don’t know if my questions are things that deal with the Kindle reading experience, but I thought I’d submit them anyway.

    I’ve already responded to Goodreads about this, but I’d like it if their newsletter could be more diverse in the books they promote, which include Kindle offerings. Also, since Amazon did away with many of the tags that helped self-pubbed authors land on the same list as the major authors, that site is becoming segregated in how books pop up on a page when someone logs on. It’s hard to explain this, because I believe that like Borders had its special section of books by say, African Americans, I don’t think Amazon realizes that this can also work against an author who strives for a more diverse fan base. I think this also comes down to when a book is uploaded into Kindle and the tags that are listed don’t offer much flexibility.

    I think someone else may be better at describing this frustrating situation than I can. Is it all in how their algorithms are set? I don’t know. But as a reader also, just because I peruse the Scifi section one day, it doesn’t mean I want all Scifi the next time I log in. I guess I’m wondering what determines the books a customer will see pop up on their screen, and how this can be configured to be more inclusive.

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  17. Kati
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:34:10

    I’d like to be able to shop from the Kindle app on my iPad, or iPhone, rather than going to my web browser to do it.

    I would also REALLY like a less time intensive way to filter Amazon’s suggestions (than clicking the “I own it”, or rating pop-up for each book). Just because I click on a book (usually it’s in horror at the title or cover), does not mean I want to read it, or many, many others like it. It can take days to get the algorithm to stop suggesting similar books.

    Also, when are they going to create a New Adult sub-genre in Romance. I like my romances generally with grown-ups. I’m exhausted with the number of NA books that seem to be constantly suggested and there is no way to differentiate a NA from a regular, adult themed romance without clicking on it…which scores me more NA suggestions…it’s a neverending cycle.

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  18. kris fletcher
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:36:58

    I love my (old, aging) Kindle, but I am seriously techno-challenged. If there is a way to be able to print something that is on my Kindle, I have yet to figure it out. Most of the time I don’t care, but when I am reading a how-to of any kind, I find it easier to have those steps on paper.

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  19. Keishon
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:37:47

    As mentioned above, better organization of ebooks but on the DEVICE and APP and if they can’t do better than collections? WHY. Sometimes I forget what the hell I have bought because it’s in the cloud so better storage space as well. That’s it. I’m easy.

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  20. Ani Gonzalez
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:41:53

    Ditto on Kindle organization and additional search functions. I desperately need an “unread” Kindle folder.

    I have a really hard time following Goodreads conversations. I wish they had an “interactions” function similar to Twitter or, at least, a simpler system.

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  21. Stephanie Doyle
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:42:45

    Yes with the organization! And more importantly when migrating from 1 Kindle to a newer one, that it maintain the folder structure – or allow me to import just my “favorites” to the new Kindle.

    While I find I can’t read paper anymore – I do worry that 5 Kindles down the road I’ll lose some of my favorites already purchased.

    And I do agree that it’s the price of the book and not the publisher that attracts the reader. As a writer I care, because I know what the process of publishing can do for a book. As a result I only buy self-published authors I know and trust to put this level of work into their product.

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  22. LeeF
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:42:45

    Good story! I am going to have to go back and read more about some of these topics and authors.

    This isn’t exactly on topic but, since Amazon owns Audible, I wish I could use my Amazon gift cards to buy on Audible as well.

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  23. Ros
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 11:50:37

    I would like them to (a) start selling the kindle keyboard again and (b) make devices that are not programmed to die after about 15 months of use.

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  24. Kris Bock
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:05:58

    @Julia Gabriel: It would be nice if it worked the other way, too, with Amazon reviews showing up on Goodreads. Some people might want to tell the difference (maybe they trust Goodreads reviews more), so they could be in separate categories or the source could be identified.

    I would also like to be able to sort books as read and not read, as well as by my genre categories.

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  25. Sophia (FV)
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:06:15

    Re: Auto posting of GoodReads reviews on Amazon. No. Just no. If this happens I will stop posting my reviews on GoodReads. I post some reviews at Amazon, but if my GoodReads reviews are automatically posted to Amazon, forget it. I want to be able to choose where my reviews get posted.

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  26. MrsJoseph
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:16:25

    @Sophia (FV): Agreed.

    Amazon is a very toxic review site and I do not review there for a reason. I’d stop reviewing if my reviews end up cross posted without consent.

    TBH, there’s nothing I want from the Amazon/GR merge than to be left alone. I want both places to be separate.

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  27. Ruth (CO)
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:27:09

    @Jen:

    Organization improvements is huge and when changing from one Kindle to another Kindle, that the organization (i.e. collections) would carry over.

    Also, would like to organize the content in the manage kindle area when on the internet from my computer. My library is large enough that it takes quite a bit of time for it to load when reviewing as not to duplicate purchases.

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  28. Ann F.
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:28:19

    I second (or third?) the request for more and better organization options. My two young daughters also have Kindle Fires so I have 3 devices tied to my personal Amazon account. I want to be able to organize the books into folders but ALSO be able to deny/allow access to those folders. My 6 year old really doesn’t need the latest Maya Banks offering showing up on her tablet.

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  29. Jennifer Lohmann
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:30:52

    @Sophia (FV):

    Ditto. I don’t, nor do I have any interest in, posting reviews on Amazon. If someone else wants to and loves it, great. If you love Amazon reviews and not Goodreads reviews, also great. Don’t force people to have both.

    My Goodreads reviews auto posted on Amazon was my biggest fear of Amazon buying Goodreads.

    ETA: I would accept an opt-in button with something like “also post this review to Amazon” and one on Amazon that said “also post this review on Goodreads. The key word there is OPT-IN.

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  30. Lozza
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:21:35

    I actually wouldn’t mind if either Amazon or GoodReads sent me an email when a book one my to-read list on Goodreads came out. I tend to put tons of stuff on my to-read list and often forget when things are coming out, and if I had a reminder, I might go and buy them.

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  31. JJPP
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:24:07

    Ditto on all the requests for more organizational options! Especially the comments made by Diane P. about keeper books vs. TBR, and by Angela James about samples.

    And here’s something very specific that drives me crazy about the Kindle app on my Android — I can’t delete anything. Even if I go into the Manage My Kindle page on Amazon and (supposedly) delete something permanently, it still shows up in my Kindle archive on my Android. It’s not just the cover, either – I can redownload the book, if I try. This is also the case if I buy a book and then return it, so you’d think Amazon would want to fix it!

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  32. Karen
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:25:38

    I second others’ comments re organising things within the kindle app and giving reviewers the choice of where their reviews end up. One thing I’d add is that I’d like to be able to permanently delete titles I have bought, not just remove them from my device. Sometimes samples or entire books are so dreadful I know I will never want to read them again but end up seeing them and remembering their awfulness each time I browse through the cloud storage to pick something to download. It might just be me who is annoyed by this though!

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  33. Kelly
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:26:08

    @Ann F.: YES to more options for managing multiple devices and parental controls! My daughter has a Fire, and I very reluctantly set her up with her own account so she didn’t have access to my smut books. But now I can’t easily see or control what she’s viewing or downloading – I trust her, but I don’t trust what might show up in her recommendations.

    More options for collections/folders would also be high on my wish list – I have dozens of collections set up on my Kindle Touch, but I’d love to have nested/hierarchical folders and the ability to export. I used to use Calibre, but it doesn’t play nice with the Touch, and losing all my collections is the primary reason why I haven’t upgraded to a Paperwhite yet.

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  34. Kelly
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:30:14

    Also… More variety in the Romance Daily Deal (and other promotions) would be much appreciated. Three months straight of Crimson Romance contemporaries was more than too much, and I’ve yet to see anything non-traditional like (*gasp*) GLBTQ romance.

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  35. Anne
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 13:44:28

    @Lozza: It seems that Amazon is finally doing notifications like this.

    Go to the Amazon page for the author and in the upper right there is a link to “email me when there are new releases from xxxxxxx”.

    It was hit or miss for a couple of weeks, I think mostly dependent on which browser I was using but it now seems to be working for all browsers and all authors. I have received four or five of these notifications from Amazon and I’m pleased.

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  36. Willa
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 14:22:51

    @Ros:

    You got 15 months from yours? Way to go :D

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  37. jb
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 15:32:35

    i’m probably repeating here, but YES organization is SO needed! i have eclectic tastes from romance to science to the history of garden gnomes, and while i love the idea of the cloud, i have two devices and i don’t want EVERYONE seeing what i read all the time. Especially if my husband wants to check out a passage in a book i’m reading or i’m showing how to work the device to my MIL (hello semi-dressed dude), so i usually end up completely deleting a book which is a shame and annoys me.

    it also keeps recommending books i have bought. i find that odd. i’m like, i just bought this book. in fact, i’m reading it RIGHT NOW!

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  38. Ros
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 15:48:22

    @Willa: I got 9 months from the first but that was still under warranty. 15 months from the second. Am now on my third which I bought second hand from a friend, because I didn’t like any of the current kindles on sale. They have LESS storage space than the old ones. Ridiculous.

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  39. Willa
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:00:38

    @Ros:

    After 13 months of use, Amazon’s truculent response when mine ‘fried’ – their word not mine, was that I pay £50 ($75) for a refurbished one with a 3 month warranty. I declined.

    I now have a Kobo Glo that I adore. I have bookshelves (collections) organised to a fault by author, I use Calibre to do the series listing of books, with all the books numbered and listed in a series, as Jane showed how to do here with her Calibre feature. And I have the cover of the book I am currently reading showing when it is asleep. It also has microSD memory card slot for any more books to pop on it ..

    Their website for books is not the best, the search function is in need of an overhaul, but I can live with that.

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  40. A.G.
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:06:10

    @Kati “Also, when are they going to create a New Adult sub-genre in Romance.”

    They already have. Been around a few weeks now.

    Some of the categories got a bunch of new subcategories, but the content isn’t all that well-organized. I don’t see the point of clicking on “gothic romance” when all I get are a bunch of popular PNR and UF titles. Where are the creepy old manors with secrets? And last night, I saw The Forsyte Saga in the science fiction romance bestseller list. In general, a lot of cleanup is needed.

    Also, historical fiction doesn’t have any subcategories yet, and it desperately needs some. All those eras and regions, just lumped together. It’s a complaint I constantly see from readers and writers.

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  41. Brian
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:13:06

    @Kati: As long as Apple wants a 30% cut from anything bought through the app you’re not likely to get in app shopping back.

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  42. Stephanie Doyle
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:20:04

    @Anne:

    Oh my goodness! I had no idea you could get email notification of an author’s release. This is awesome. Thanks for this.

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  43. Patricia
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:37:26

    I use the Kindle app on my iPad mini for most of my reading. The organization options suck. I have a terrible memory for authors and titles, so trying to page through ALL THE BOOKS to find the one I want to refer to is an exercise in frustration.

    I want to be able to separate read, in-process, and unread books. I also want to be able to tag/shelve books by multiple categories (or any categories, really), including categories I make up that probably only make sense in my own mind. I’d like to be able to sort the books by any criterion I can think of — length, copyright date, publisher, frequency of the “f” word, whatever.

    I want to be able to effectively page through the book. A button that would let me jump ahead (or back) one chapter and/or a set number of pages (10, 20, 50, etc.) would be nice, especially if I could also easily return to where I started. A way to tell at a glance what chapter I’m in and how far I have to go until the next one would also be swell.

    I’d like a button at the end of the book that would take me to the rest of the author’s backlist in the Kindle store, and if the book is part of a series I want a buy button for the next in the series at the end of the book, too.

    I’d like to be able to ask Amazon for recommendations only in a particular category. When I’m looking for science fiction on Amazon I don’t need to see recommendations for cookbooks and vice versa, even though I buy both.

    I’m not enthusiastic about automatically importing Goodreads reviews to Amazon. I don’t review a lot, but when I do I definitely choose my tone based on where I intend to post. Some of my Goodreads reviews are considerably snarkier than anything I would post on Amazon and I wouldn’t want them ported over without my consent.

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  44. cleo
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:42:21

    I’m a Nook owner who sometimes thinks about switching to Kindle and I might actually do it if there was an easy way to convert my epubs. I went with the Nook in the first place because it had better organizational abilities and from the comments it sounds like org is still an issue for Kindle.

    I still buy a lot of print books from Amazon and I get so frustrated with the recommendations. I wish they were more like the Netflicks recommendations, which seem to be based on your entire purchasing history, not just you bought this book by JAK, try another.

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  45. Mandy
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 16:46:49

    I would love an opt-in button to have my Goodreads reviews appear automatically on Amazon. I’d love an email to my Goodreads account (not my private email address) when a book on my tbr shelf is published. I second what someone posted above about improving the Goodreads newsletter with regards to diversity of books and purchasing deals.

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  46. Sammi
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 18:07:04

    @Kelly: The Crimson Romance books that were the RDD’s weren’t bad so bad. I’ve read better from there. Then again, I’ve read some very good Crimson Romance books as well as some very bad. It seems to be a hit or a miss. I can let you know the one’s that I have read that were really good if you’d like.

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  47. Dee
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 18:21:43

    Organizational options on the app. I don’t have a kindle, but do make many purchases of kindle ebooks, as well as from B&N and others. My favorite way to read is on the ipad. I have many apps, and they are all lacking organization options and search options. Having a huge library means I often have to refer to my Calibre libraries, just to see what I have, what I want to read next, or what I want to purchase. Thank god for Calibre, and it’s infinite sorting and searching features.

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  48. Angela James
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 18:40:04

    I can’t believe I didn’t say this earlier but I’d love the app to offer same functionality as Audible app in two ways: reading the book blurb & being able to mark as finished/read & have it actually show that as banner on cover. I love both those functions on Audible, especially being able to tap & read blurb without opening book.

    On that note, I wouldn’t mind being able to sort by length like Audible as well.

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  49. Tabs
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 19:12:43

    I’ve got one I don’t think anyone has mentioned: I would love the option to reset the syncing between devices. I’ll often start a book on my kindle and then read bits from time to time on my iphone. Which works fine except I like to “thumb through” and peak at the ending and once I’ve done that, it’s locked into “syncing to the farthest point” and there’s no going back. I hate it so much.

    Also, I find the search function on my Kindle Paperwhite to be almost entirely useless. If you search for an author or title, you don’t get a handly list of matches (like the iphone app gives), you get excerpts from passages that mention those words or phrases and it’s so tedious to wade through.

    Those are my two biggest peeves.

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  50. Anne
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 20:00:19

    @Tabs:

    1. You can clear your furthest read page by logging into your Manage Your Kindle page. I usually do it from my desktop but it can be done a tablet. It’s a bit awkward as it will set it back to the beginning so be sure to bookmark whatever page you really want to go back to.

    Search your library, find the book and then click on the far right column marked “actions”.
    Select “Clear furthest page read” and confirm.
    Sync everything up, reopen the book, go to bookmarks and then select the bookmark you want.

    The other thing, and it might be the easiest, is to just use bookmarks. That is generally what I do it when switching between phone and kindle. You just have to remember to sync things up. I usually do the clear thing only when I have finished a book so that it opens at the start for the next person on my account that reads it.

    Another thing I just though of that might work is turn off syncing on your account. I don’t do that because trying to explain the change to my dad is more than I want to do. You would still have to use bookmarks but it should stop asking you if you wanted to go to the furthest page.

    You should be able to do this under your MYK page as well, you just have to go to the Manage Your Devices section. Turning off sync is a choice below the list of your devices and apps.

    2. I’m not sure if I understand the second peeve. If you’re on the home page of your pw, you should be able to sort by title, author, most recent, etc. If you sort by author and are looking for one with the last name of P, you should be able to just type in the letter P, click and it should come up with a list of the correct authors (as long as the data was input correctly). The same thing for titles. My apologies if I’m misunderstanding your concern.

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  51. Brian
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 20:59:52

    Speaking of MYK, that page could really use some work. Once you have a large quantity of books it takes forever for them all to “load” and then if you do certain things & go back the loading process starts all over again.

    Another peeve is publishers/authors being able to upload a “new” version of a book under a different ASIN (usually with new promo content, like blurb’s for new books or a new cover) and then when they delete the old version it’s deleted from the book’s available formats. The old version should still be listed, just like older paper editions, and just be made unavailable for purchase if they don’t want to just update the current version for whatever reason. This also happens with self-pub stuff that gets picked up and re-pubbed by Amazon or another publisher. Fine, make the old edition unavailable to buy, but they shouldn’t eradicate all record of it being published. For one thing it’s nice to have a record of other editions, but it also means folks who have bought the old version don’t have a quick way of knowing they bought it previously while shopping. (If any of that made sense)

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  52. Jacqueline C.
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 21:16:25

    I’d love for the Personal Document Library to be more accessible on the Kindle and easier to edit (i.e. upload, delete, rename) on the device, as well as the apps and the current Manage Your Kindle setup. The ability to do bulk uploads and deletions would really make me happy.

    I also second the previous motions for additional – and less clunky – organization options and rethinking the syncing. I would actually like for books to sync not to the farthest point read, but to the last point read

    Books read on the Kindle or through apps should also be automatically added to a “Read” collection. That “Before You Go” window that pops up at the end of a book should offer you the option to add that book to one or more collections, too. I’m always forgetting to add books to my collections and that would help a lot.

    Regarding Goodreads integration, I would like the option to link my Amazon account with my Goodreads one (opt-in, not automatic). From there, it would be awesome if I could choose what info from my Amazon account that I would like reflected in Goodreads. Purchases, wish lists, books available to loan, books borrowed from the library, Audible audiobooks, personal documents, etc.

    They should also make lending books easier through Goodreads, by allowing people to lend to a Goodreads friend without having to gather their email and trek over to Amazon.

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  53. Susan
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 21:32:31

    Ditto on the organization. I have an obscene number of ebooks and need an easier, but expanded way, to organize them.

    Since I do have so many books, and a really crappy memory, I often can’t remember a particular book based just on the title/author. I wish there was some way to get a quick description of the book w/out the time/bother of connecting to the internet. (As far as that goes, even having a decent picture of the cover would help jog my memory. A lot of ebooks don’t come with the cover artwork, much less the other artwork, and that really miffs me.)

    I used to keep my unread books on the device and the read books in the cloud. The catch there is if you upgrade/change devices, everything reverts to the cloud. As a result, I’ve caught myself starting books I’ve already read. (Doh. I mentioned “too many books, bad memory,” right?) I guess I could have read and unread collections, but I’m too lazy for that. Is there an easier way to mark books as read or unread?

    As a follow on to the above point, I’d like to easily “prioritize” my TBR pile into categories like “read right now,” “read real soon,” “read this year,” “read when I win the lottery and have time to hang out on a chaise lounge all day.” (Maybe I’d have different category names, but that’s the idea.)

    Granted that I’ve gotten a lot of great reads based on the recommendations feature, but I haven’t even bothered with it lately. Just because I view—or buy—one book from an author doesn’t mean I need to suddenly have all 25 books from their backlist show up. And it’s a nuisance to make them go away and stay away. There’s just a lot of dross there that I don’t feel like wading thru most of the time. (And that’s not just for books, mind you. If I buy a vacuum cleaner, I probably don’t need to see 10 recommendations for other vacuum cleaners. I only needed the one, thanks.)

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time searching for items in my library—and it seems harder w/ the Paperwhite than w/ previous models. I know I own a book by a certain author, but it doesn’t show up with a search. I don’t like having to “manually” search thru the pile.

    Faster way to get updates? I get all these emails that updates are available, then I have to go to the Manage My Kindle page, download all my books (takes forever), find the book that has the update, then download it again (to all my devices). I’m really too lazy for this.

    I’m glad to read that I’m not the only one whose Kindles don’t last. I think I went thru 3 Touches in a year. 2 Paperwhites. 2 Fire HDs (the new one) so far. Resetting everything is a real nuisance. I was especially peeved with the Fire HDs because all the settings, preferences, and bookmarks went away and had to then be reset. And, to add insult to injury, my Fire was just deregistered one day—found out someone at Amazon had accidentally marked it as lost/stolen. So, I was without the use of my tablet for 3 days and then, you got it, had to reset everything once again.

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  54. Anne
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 21:46:06

    @Brian: You’re absolutely right on both of these. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent in feedback on my dislike of the MYK page and I just got a refund due to the different ASINs problem. I’m sitting here agreeing with all the organizational comments and didn’t give much thought to other things that I consider problems.

    That said, I’m pretty excited about a workaround I found for the load time problem last week. Open and login to MYK in your browser, open a second tab in the same browser to MYK, let them both load and do whatever you need to in the first tab and while it is resetting, go do whatever you need to in the second tab. I’ve played with this a bit with as many as four tabs opens and it seemed to work fine.

    My biggest frustration is whatever their signed in time is before they make you login again. If I’m doing something in MYK, get interrupted and come back, I found that I had to login again and wait for it to reload. What I discovered totally by accident when playing with the above scenario is that if you logout and login to Amazon on a different tab, it resets your login time on your MYK tab. That saves reloading time.

    Maybe they should just buy Calibre.

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  55. SAO
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 01:51:09

    My number 1 wish is for easier browsing. I’d like to be able to page forward a chapter, 3 pages at a time, 50 pages, whatever.

    2) Making bookmarking easier. I’d like one button, not a menu because I use bookmarks to note where I read up to (this is not at all the same as the last page I skimmed). Goto should include bookmarks.

    3) I’d like recommendations based on authors, not the 50 books in the backlist of a go-to author. I can figure out myself that if I like this author, I might like more of her books. I’d like to be able to blacklist some authors so they never get on my recommendation list. I’d like to be able to flag books I’ve read easily, so they don’t recommend I read them again. I’d like recommendations based on several authors, not just the one whose book I bought last. I’d like to be able to flag books I bought for a gift. My Goodreads recommendations has plenty of suggestions that combine my fondness for historicals with my son’s middle school reading tastes. Neither of us wants to read the Magic Tree House’s take on the Little House on the Prairie. And, yeah, if I buy a lawn mower, I am probably not planning to buy another one soon. Certainly not before the end of the warranty period for the one I just bought. If I downloaded a book, opened it and a week has gone by and I haven’t finished it, don’t use it for recommendations. Or never finished it. Unless it’s a manual. I might really like that recipe book, even if I never opened the chapter on Tasty Tofu Tortes.

    4) If the library book is expired and I deleted it off my Kindle, please don’t download it again the next time I connect to the server, just because I forgot to delete it from the Manage my Kindle. There should be a button for delete all expired library books. Instead, I have to do it manually and the refresh time is really slow.

    5) When I put something in a folder on my Kindle, I want it to remain there, not pop up to the top of the list because I read it recently. As a result, the folders are useless. They don’t sort stuff I want sorted. Maybe instead of folders, we could tag stuff and sort by tag. That would allow me to tag DNF, manuals, book club books and find them again without segregating them in a folder.

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  56. Kaetrin
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 05:10:04

    I’m with the other commenters about no automatic cross-posting of reviews between Goodreads and Amazon. A clear opt-in would be my preference, but at least an opt out.

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  57. Angela
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 05:57:50

    Many people have said it, but I definitely would love better organization options. I’ve gotten kind of used to the collections, but wouldn’t mind a different way – whatever gave us the most flexibility.

    An SD slot – I get more than 500 books on my Kindle (Keyboard) and it starts to slow down when I highlight, search, add to collections, move between menus/screens (except paging forward/backward) and download. It’s frustrating. I got a Kindle so I could keep my favorites and a large selection of “not read” on there for options. I read ALL the time. I want my books ON my Kindle (or on an SD card that I carry with me).

    Have the book blurb download with the book. When I go to “Book Description” I don’t want it to require wifi and take me to the “buy” page on Amazon. I want the description/blurb. It’s usually under 500 words, it should just come with it. Sometimes I’m away from wifi and can’t remember what the (one of 900) book on my Kindle is about. The blurb helps me remember why I got it and if I’m interested in it at that particular moment. I can’t say the number of books I’ve gotten and haven’t read because I simply don’t remember them.

    On a similar note – the covers. Why aren’t there the actual covers with each Kindle book? Sometimes it’s a generic cover with just the author name and title. Cover art is another thing that can tell me what the book is about and/or if I want to read it at that moment.

    Batch sending/downloading. I’d like to be able to pick multiple books to send to my Kindle at a time, rather than one-by-one. It took me HOURS when I upgraded my Kindle to send all the files again through Amazon’s website. And then HOURS again when I had to do a hard re-boot of the Kindle.

    While I’m on wishlist Amazon things – in regards to the Wishlist – make it so I can sort by “author” or “creator” vs just title.

    Recommendations – I’d like to be able to add books/authors to “never recommend to me again.” I know their style/that book doesn’t get on with me, and I get sick of marking it “not interested.” In the same note, I’d like to know if I like X author, I may also like Y author.

    If I buy a book, or add a book to my wishlist, don’t recommend another version to me. I admit I do sometimes buy multiple versions (Kindle, paper, hardcover etc) but that doesn’t mean that I want them recommended to me. If I want the other formats I’ll search them out.

    That’s all I can think of for now. Thanks, Jane for putting this together :)

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  58. Anne
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:43:49

    @Kelly: It’s pretty easy to import your collections to a new kindle:

    1. Download your books. This is the really painful part if you have a lot of books because it can take so long. I recommend downloading only 10 or so books at a time. You want to give it some time for indexing and I found that 10 was a good number for me.

    2. Go to your Archived Items Folder and select “Add Other Device Collections” and then select the device you want to import collections from. It’s been some time since I had to do this but as I recall, it all went smoothly.

    All the downloading and indexing can be a big battery drain so have your charger handy.

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  59. Willaful
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 11:43:59

    @Jennifer Lohmann: I’m not sure even an opt-in button would make me happy. My experience with GoodReads has been that even without opting in, I wound up connected to things I absolutely don’t want to be connected to, ie Facebook.

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  60. Willaful
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 11:47:37

    Two things that bug me about my Basic Kindle (and if there are fixes for these, I’d love to hear about them):

    1) Sometimes I “go to” another part of the book to check something. Often this info turns out to have been placed at the end of the file. When that happens, I have no way to get back to where I was, because “synch to last place read” will take me to the end again. I can add a bookmark before moving if I remember to, but bookmarks are a pain to use.

    2) It would be nice to be able to delete something from my kindle from within a collection. As it is, I have to remove it from the collection, then page through to find it to delete it, and what page it ends up on seems to be anyone’s guess.

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  61. Jennifer Lohmann
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 12:57:49

    @Willaful:

    Oh, I had forgotten about the annoying Facebook/Goodreads link.

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  62. Willaful
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:08:11

    Another issue with my basic Kindle — it sometimes skips a page ahead.

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  63. Katie
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:13:28

    Ditto the better browsing suggestion. That’s pretty much the one thing I miss now that I’ve switched over to reading 90% ebooks. I want to be able to easily flip back a few chapters to remind myself of a piece of information. (Basically, I just want a “slider” on my paperwhite like the kindle app has.)

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  64. Susan
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 17:26:26

    @SAO: “2) Making bookmarking easier. I’d like one button, not a menu because I use bookmarks to note where I read up to (this is not at all the same as the last page I skimmed). Goto should include bookmarks.”

    FYI–Bookmarking on the Paperwhite is easier than with older models–you just tap the corner of the screen. You still need to go thru the menu to access your bookmarks and notes, tho.

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  65. AlexaB
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 20:54:30

    New-ish account holders at Shelfari and Audible must use their Amazon account to sign in to those services. Only account holders who predate the Amazon takeover can use email addresses to sign in.

    I’m already flirting with LibraryThing (alas, if only Tim Spalding didn’t think web design reached its zenith in 2001). If Goodreads makes it all but impossible to sign in except with my Amazon account, I’m outta there. I keep those accounts separate, with different email addresses, and I like it that way.

    Which means that no, I do not want my Goodreads reviews cross pollinating Amazon. In fact, I think the current level of integration is just fine: if I want to buy the book on Amazon, there’s a link. And if I want to purchase the book elsewhere, there are links to other stores. That’s all the integration I need or want. Unfortunately, I doubt that will be the end of it. I just hope Goodreads continues to provide links to alternate retailers.

    Regarding things I like to see on the Kindle, I’m seconding all the recommendations so far. I’d be specifically thrilled to have:
    Better search. Period.
    The ability to easily skip ahead or back a few pages, and easily return to where I was.
    The ability to organize and shelve my books. I find the current collection function useless for my needs.
    Blurbs.

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  66. Amy
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 10:04:23

    Hi Jane,

    So nice to meet you last week. I did want to clarify one thing…I do agree that the average readers of romance and other genre fiction are probably more interested in price than they are with whether a book is trad or indie pubbed. But I do think that there is another type of reader–those interested in books that are unique–from the story line to the way the books are created–who will care about whether a book is indie or not and those are the types of readers we at IndieReader are trying to reach.

    Of course we do have our “List Where Indies Count” which weekly reviews the current self-pubbed bestsellers. But we do think the world of indie includes much more than those titles.

    Best,
    Amy
    IndieReader

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  67. MrsJoseph
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 12:01:34

    @AlexaB:

    New-ish account holders at Shelfari and Audible must use their Amazon account to sign in to those services. Only account holders who predate the Amazon takeover can use email addresses to sign in.

    I’m already flirting with LibraryThing (alas, if only Tim Spalding didn’t think web design reached its zenith in 2001). If Goodreads makes it all but impossible to sign in except with my Amazon account, I’m outta there. I keep those accounts separate, with different email addresses, and I like it that way.

    Which means that no, I do not want my Goodreads reviews cross pollinating Amazon. In fact, I think the current level of integration is just fine: if I want to buy the book on Amazon, there’s a link. And if I want to purchase the book elsewhere, there are links to other stores. That’s all the integration I need or want. Unfortunately, I doubt that will be the end of it. I just hope Goodreads continues to provide links to alternate retailers.

    THIS!!! SO MUCH THIS.

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  68. Estara Swanberg
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 13:58:40

    @Brianna (The Book Vixen): I second this sentiment, though I do copy reviews to Amazon occasionally, if I want to support the author actively.

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  69. E_bookpushers
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 08:09:16

    I agree with the suggestions for better organizational ability. I also do NOT want my Amazon and Goodreads accounts linked. They are under seperate names, email addresses, sign-in etc for a reason. If I want a review on Amazon I will cross-post it there manually.

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  70. Jae Lee
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 15:06:36

    @Willaful:

    You can jump from chapter to chapter on certain devices and within certain books. I know on the Kindle Keyboard, you just press the square button (or flip the joystick for the older models) to the right or left and if it’s coded into the book, it will jump to the preceding/following chapter. On the Kindle Touch you just drag your finger up or down and it will do the same thing. These are the only devices I’ve used personally, but it will probably work the same on the current basic model and the Paperwhite.

    I am fairly happy with the level of integration between Amazon and Goodreads right now and I want to continue using my email address as opposed to my Amazon account to log-in to Goodreads, but I’d like to be able link them enough to dump my future purchases into Goodreads and mark them automatically as to-be-read, but it’s something I want to opt into (maybe to tick a box that says “add to goodreads” and I definitely don’t want it to happen for previous purchases since I’ve spent a lot of time fixing up my shelves.

    Being able to nest collections would be pretty dope, too. And please, make book descriptions part of the actual file so you don’t have to connect to your data-whatever. That mess is annoying. I don’t keep the wifi on because it drains the battery.

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  71. The Kindle Chronicles - TKC 253 Nader Kabbani
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 21:51:58

    [...] Jane Litte’s report on the KDP/CreateSpace roundtable – at Dear Author [...]

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