Monday, May 16, 2011

Sharing Within Your Kindle Account

Both Amazon and B&N have long offered lame solutions for the ebook sharing problem.  Why limit the share period and why only allow it once in the life of the book?  Ebooks should be more powerful than print books but here's a great example of how the market leaders are trying to make them less powerful.

I don't see the situation changing anytime soon but I wanted to mention a partial solution that works well for me: sharing within my Kindle account.  Our family now owns three Kindles.  Every time I buy a new one I just add it to my original Kindle account.  Now all three of the Kindles have access to the same common library.  There's no reason for us to buy any ebook more than once.

Until recently I assumed pretty much every Kindle owner was aware of this option.  I've mentioned it to at least three others in the past couple of weeks though and none of them had considered it before.  That's why I'm sharing it here.

Obviously this in-account sharing doesn't address the larger problem of being able to share with all your friends but at least you can share within your family (assuming you're all configured to use the same account).  And yes, Whispersync complicates things when two or more are reading one book at the same time.  That's why I always bookmark my last location before I close a book!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why Isn't Twitter Connected to Amazon's "Look Inside" Feature?

One of my complaints with the first-gen Kindle was that there was no way to quickly tweet book excerpts.  The new Kindle lets you tweet as you read, of course, but it's a cumbersome process.  How many key combinations does it take to send a single tweet?!

Process aside, I'm very disappointed with the way Amazon handles the excerpts you want to point to.  For example, I'm reading Jane Leavy's terrific biography of Mickey Mantle called The Last Boy.  I came across a cool link in the book pointing to a simulation of a tape-measure home run Mantle hit at Yankee Stadium in 1963 (go here and click on mantle_hr_63 to see it yourself).  Here's the result of tweeting the excerpt:

This wasn't at all what I expected to point my Twitter followers to.

If you go to this book's Amazon page you'll see the "Look Inside" feature has been enabled for it.  That means you can flip through the book a bit before you buy it.  Why in the world doesn't Amazon take Twitter followers right to the book page I tweeted via "Look Inside"?  Followers could then read more than what I included in my tweet.  More importantly, they'd be right there on the product page, able to "1-click buy" it on the spot.

The Twitter functionality shown above is a small step forward from the complete lack of Twitter connectivity Amazon offered with Kindle 1.0.  But Amazon is really missing the boat here by simply showing the short excerpt I pulled for the tweet.  And just to add salt to the open wound, why isn't that url in the excerpt live?  I know Amazon hates sending customers to sites off, but jeez, they're doing customers a disservice by making them type in that simulation link.

I hope Amazon takes this to heart and utilizes "Look Inside" in some future release of the Kindle platform.  I don't see a lot of value in tweeting any more excerpts without "Look Inside" connectivity.