January 27, 2013

A rant on the Kindle

I love the Kindle be it on the eponymous device or on an iPad. But I just can’t stop my being extremely frustrated at the shortcomings of the current Amazon e-book format.

  • Footnotes/endnotes are broken. On the iPad, I need to tap three or more times to activate the footnote. Unusable. Navigating back and forth from footnote to text is broken. Focus on reading is distracted by trying to navigate from and to endnotes. This has been the case for 3 years.
  • Images and tables are very poor. Not only there is only one zoom factor available which is clearly insufficient but also resolutions are ridiculously small. Reading charts, tables, graphs and diagrams is just a pain. There has been some improvements here but this is hardly enough. With hi-res retina displays, Kindle could do so much better…
  • No cut & paste. There is no way to cut & paste a snippet of text so as to quote an excerpt of the book. The workaround is ridiculous : you need to tweet the excerpt and the copy the text at Amazon. This is just ludicrous.
  • A lot of typos. I understand no system is 100% precise but why not allow for crowd-sourced feedback.

Clearly, Amazon has made a fantastic job of making books available in electronic format over the years and has curbed the mighty publishing houses which were fighting against this new medium. Plus it has brought about new best-sellers that would never have existed through the self-publishing programme. Still the e-book itself has been evolving extremely slowly, e-books as of today are good for novels but way too limited for books with footnotes, graphs and images : text-books, scientific articles, non-fiction, …

Maybe there is no strong enough incentive as of today for Amazon to disrupt the e-book layout, navigation and overall usability ?

Please Amazon do something.