Speaking of Kindle: what about bookshelves?

15Apr09

Is there some reason, do you suppose, why Amazon only wants to sell their Kindle to people who don’t read very much? I’d think it would be just the opposite. Silly me. So far as I can see, if you actually love books, you’re expected to stay away from the Kindle.

Why do I say this? Because it doesn’t seem to provide any mechanism for keeping track of more than a dozen or so books. It (or their service) can store them, sure, but how many titles can you scroll through before you go nuts?

I love books. Every room in my house has at least one book case. I sort them endlessly: the Science Fiction, the history, the sailing stories, the Bibles, the detective stories … oops: Science Fiction detective stories, what to do? Some other organization now needed! Rearranging my books is itself a part of the love.

My electronic books, same story. I have just a bit over 200 volumes of electronic literature that I’ve collected in the ten or so years I’ve been reading ebooks out of my hand. They’re organized in a fairly rich folder hierarchy—and reorganized into some other hierarchy fairly often. I’ve been through three or four reader programs, written conversion utilities on occasion, and every one of them has come out initially unable to list these volumes in anything but a simple linear list. I’ve worked with each developer to help them understand the need for organizing tools, and each one has added the feature … only to be supplanted by the next wave of reader technology or platform, sadly, and I have to start all over again.

Now, Kindle. Once more around the barn.

And due to format wars (another blog post, for a time when my teeth can unclench), also Stanza, an excellent reader, but also without organizing capabilities.

For the iPhone, there appears to be only one reader with organizing capabilities, BookShelf. It doesn’t actually organize the documents on your iPhone, but it works in concert with a free helper on your laptop or desktop: the documents can be organized there, and can be browsed from the iPhone, and then downloaded onto the handheld. Almost close enough to suffice: the dox on the device are still just listed linearly, but the other connection’s good enough you don’t care. It’s like the laptop is just external storage for the iPhone.

But BookShelf is payware, and startlingly high priced for an iPhone app at that. I fully support the developer’s right to make a living, and I’m rather baffled at how LexCycle can provide Stanza for free … but they do. So I have to decide whether my need to organize my books is worth the whole price of BookShelf. Tricky question … not yet, anyway.

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2 Responses to “Speaking of Kindle: what about bookshelves?”

  1. 1 abe

    Stanza allows you to create custom collections/albums in addition to the built-in titles, authors, subjects categories.

    • 2 jrep

      Ah, you’re right, it does! I completely missed that [+] button. Thanks! You’ve increased my reading satisfaction by around 10x!

      Still only one level deep, though. My current filing system is as deep as three levels, such as

      Philosophy :: Christian Studies :: Creeds

      … and that only covers the stuff I labored to download from Project Gutenberg, reformat, translate through several reader shifts, and organize into my hotsync folders. Now that actually acquiring things is so much easier (which Stanza and iKindle definitely make it), I foresee much richer taxonomies.



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