This is a repeat for many of you (so you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t read it), but this re-post is in answer to the many emails I have received over the past two weeks regarding the Collections App for the Kindle Fire.
Many people have asked me over the past year – including my own family – why I don’t read books very often on my Kindle Fire: I primarily read on my Kindle Keyboard or Kindle DX, although the Paperwhite is trying its best to take their places. The main reason was the Fire does not allow you to organize your books into genres / categories as all of the books are lumped together on one endless bookshelf after another on the carousel.
I’m not the only one who has a complaint or annoyance with this, as I can’t tell you how many discussion board rants and posts I have read of people wanting that functionality: it’s how I organize the 100+ books I have in my electronic “to be read” pile on my e-Ink Kindles and is something I consider a must-have with an e-Reader. I kept hoping Amazon would release a software update and implement the feature, especially with the new versions of the Fire that came out this past month, but they never did.
Well, I decided to bite the proverbial financial bullet and hired a group of talented app developers to design one for me –they came through, and now it is available in the Amazon App Store.
The first iteration of the app in late October / early November had some bugs to it that were problematic to a handful of users, and the negative reviews of the app piled on really fast. I am happy to say those first-generation bugs have been resolved and I appreciate the positive emails people have sent me saying how much they love it.
What does the app do? It’s pretty straight-forward: the app will classify your books into your own categories and launch your book directly from the app so you can start reading. Here’s a look at how I have started to organize the “uncategorized” books on my Kindle Fire (there’s a lot of books to categorize on my Fire):
If you look at the picture, you’re able to see five categories I created, but if you were sitting in front of my Kindle Fire and swiped down the screen you would see others. The little icons on the shelf represent each book I have in a particular category – you can change the color of the book icon’s spine if you want if you want to further classify your category or if you want all of a particular category to be blue, red, green, etc. On my Kindle Keyboard there are 23 categories, and I imagine there will be something similar on my Kindle Fire HD when I am finished.
Moving books to categories is also easy – each book is initially put into an “Uncategorized” category until you tell the app where you would like for it to be placed. To move a particular book from the “Uncategorized” section, just tap the book’s icon and a new window like the one below will open:
From this screen, you would then tap the “Move to Category” line and put the book into whatever category you desire. Can’t make up your mind or decide where it should be? That’s okay – you can put a book in as many categories as you want. For example, I have many books categorized in both “Mystery” and “Thriller.” The key here is you as the user decide – not me or a random computer. If you change your mind on a category, or realize down the road you may have misspelled a category, you can either move the book to a different category or rename any of the categories.
Once you have created a category and put a book (or more) into it, you can check it out: the picture below is what I have started with the “Mystery” category on my Fire. I have a ways to go on finishing my uncategorized books!
Once you are in this category – or any other category within the app including the “Uncategorized” section – to get started reading just tap the icon of the book and the book will launch. And yes, for some of you who are wondering, while software limitations won’t bring them directly in to the app to look at, you can still see a book’s stock cover image once you launch the book!
I imagine my Fire will have a lot of books on it now, as I have a lot of things in the electronic “to be read” pile! In case I have too many to quickly find a particular author, title, etc., the app will sort them by various parameters like the author’s name or book title to minimize your time hunting and maximize your time reading.
Once you’ve finished reading for the day or that session, either leave a bookmark where you were reading, or tap the middle of your Fire’s screen once to bring up the menu at the bottom: make a note of your location or page number then tap the back arrow one time. A dialog box will then open up where you can type in the location or page number. Going back to your category screen, you will see the last location you just input (see the screen above – they all say Location 1 because they have not been read on the Fire I used to take screenshots). That way, you will know where you are in the book while perusing your categories.
Why is that important? The Kindle reader, when launched from the app, automatically goes to the first page vs. going to the last page read: that’s a block with the Fire’s operating system the technical team couldn’t overcome (and they tried mightily). Now that you know what page / location you last read, when the book opens just drag the book progress / slider bar at the bottom of the book’s opening screen (it opens up automatically when you open the book or tap the middle of the book’s page on your Fire) and quickly go to your page.
One final thing: rather than having to open up a new web browser or use the free app for the blog to see the free book offers and tips, if you have an available Internet / Wi-Fi connection you can access it directly from your Fire. Just tap the “Free Kindle Books and Tips Blog” icon at the bottom of the category screen and you can grab the freebies right there.
I tried to make it simple in the design – one app to categorize and read books, as well as the same app to read the blog.
No, unlike most of my other offerings and the original app this one is not going to be free: I need to pay for the programmers (they don’t work cheap) and remember, I’m still trying to see if I can make blogging a full-time enterprise. I’ve initially priced it at what I think is both economical for the user without trying to gouge anyone as well as at a price point where I think there could be some nice sales volume that will allow me to make a profit after I pay the programmers, Amazon takes their percentage, and the US government takes what they believe is their fair share. At just $2.99, I hope you will give it a try and, if you do, I believe you will get a lot of value out of it!
If you do like it, I would appreciate a positive / favorable review on the Amazon website. If you think I missed something in the design or there is something wrong, please shoot me a note (michael at fkbooksandtips dot com) as the technical team and I are already compiling a list of future enhancements. If you had previously reviewed it with the old version of the app, please consider modifying your review.
Here is the link again:
If you have read this far, I appreciate it – thanks for sticking with me over the years! What started out as just a fun way to share the free Kindle books I heard or read about during the week with a handful of people a couple of years ago is slowly, but surely, growing and turning into something I hope can be a full-time job!
Have a great Christmas and New Year,
Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your e-Ink Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week trial subscription! Click here for the Amazon page of the Free Kindle Books and Tips blog or type in http://www.tinyurl.com/fkblog into your computer’s web browser.