This week I attended and presented at UWE’s E-Books: Experiences and Future Directions Conference. It was an interesting conference that had a focus on health and delegates from Universities, Colleges, Hospitals, Aggregators and Publishers attended.
One theme that did come out of the conference was the “Kindle Problem”. The issue stated by both aggregators, publishers and libraries was that users had Kindles, however all eBook platforms and downloadable formats were not compatible with the Kindle and therefore this was a problem “with the Kindle”.
Blaming the user is indicative of an industry that fails to understand its users and is an industry that dictates how users should do things, over trying to meet the needs of the user.
The reason that people see the Kindle is a problem, is that the Kindle has been successful. Consumers have gone out and bought the Kindle and therefore want to use it.
The reason the Kindle has been a success compared to other eBook readers is that Amazon have created a product that basically works.
I have a Kindle and I also use the Kindle App on my iPad. All my purchases are stored in the cloud and I can download my books to the device of my choosing. I can download it to both iPad and Kindle. Once I have signed into the Kindle app, I don’t need to sign in again.
Now the Kindle isn’t perfect. There are issues with it that annoy my. I don’t like how it doesn’t support ePub, I think it’s PDF support is lacking.
Importantly though I use the Kindle to read books!
I did prior to the Kindle have a Sony e-Reader and though I did use it to read a few classics, the real issue I had was with getting books onto the device, the DRM meant that I had to use a specific computer to download the books onto before transferring them onto the e-Reader. I remember talking to a colleague at work who had real problems doing that, so in the end didn’t use it, they now have a Kindle and use it all the time!
I find therefore interesting that providers of ebook platforms are very rigid and inflexible and then accuse Amazon of the same thing! I appreciate also that Amazon are in some ways just as inflexible as the aggregators and publishers!
If our users are buying and using the Kindle, then shouldn’t we, if we are offering e-book loans, ensure that whatever service we subscribe to supports or at least works towards supporting, the Kindle?
To ignore the Kindle or to assume that it is a problem is missing the fact that it is well used and liked by the user. To push another device onto the user so you don’t need to change implies you don’t have a user focus. There needs to be a push to Amazon to support an ebook lending model and for aggregators and publishers to change their systems to support the Kindle.
It can happen, but at this stage I can’t see it happening, can you?