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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kindle Upgrade Thoughts

I've been waiting and waiting for my Kindle to get the 2.5 update that allows books to be filed/organized. The one thing I haven't loved about my Kindle was the fact I couldn't sort anything. I could look by author or by title or by download date, but that didn't help me find a particular book. This weekend I decided I couldn't wait for Amazon to push the update and I installed it manually.

First off, this was much simpler than I expected it to be. The directions on the website were clear and easy to follow. It was also quicker than I thought. The install only took a few minutes.

Then the real fun began--trying to sort a 24-page list of books into categories.

Defining the names of categories turned out to be moderately difficult. I wanted to slice it down far enough that I could find everything easily, but I didn't want it so fine that I had 24 pages worth of categories. Since I read a lot of romance, I broke that down into Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, and a generic Romance for anything that didn't fall into the first two. I also did a Read and Unread for each because Amazon's designation (bold dots below the book title instead of regular dots) doesn't exactly leap off the screen and scream Read!

Anyway, I gave Urban Fantasy it's own folder and then did all of Fiction under one umbrella. I also broke down my research books into Writing Craft, General Research, and Research specific to a particular story/series idea. As I filed books away, I discovered the need to add more categories for filing purposes and made it to 2 1/2 pages worth of categories. That's more than I'd hoped for, but I guess I'm not too surprised.

Then began the "fun" process of categorizing everything. I'm still not done since I was only able to work on it at odd moments. This ended up being interesting. I discovered books I had no memory of downloading. I rediscovered books that made me go, Oh, yeah, I wanted to read that. It was amazing how much I had that just got buried without a filing system.

Right now I still have about 5 pages of books to categorize. The problem is that I've had my Kindle for about 16 months now and I don't remember what these books are about or which file they belong in. I need time to research them so that I can file them, and right now, time is in short supply.

I think this update to the Kindle software was long overdue. The ability to put books into categories should have been there from the beginning and it was something I noticed immediately when I got it. I'm still not 100% happy, though, with how categories work.

While I do love the fact that a book can be filed in more than one location, I absolutely hate that I can't arrange my category names in alphabetical order. Grr. Amazon puts whatever category I opened last on top. I can see that some people would like this, but I'd prefer alphabetical order so I can find what I'm looking for quickly and easily. If Paranormal romance is falling in the middle of my list of files, how am I going to find it without paging through and scanning through the entire list? (BTW, if there is a way to do this and you know it, please tell me. I haven't had time to really explore the update yet.)

So overall, the 2.5 update for Kindle is definitely worth the extra steps to download manually, but it's still not a perfect solution for organization. Two thumbs up, with a wish that Amazon would refine this filing a little more and give the reader more options.