eBook Reader App and Streaming Player App Spiel

Back in 2015 or so, I wrote a short op-ed that was ill-received, calling for better ebook management features on Kindle platform. It’s been 8 years, but I see little to no changes in the app, and frankly, with the gorgeous displays and extended battery life used in most smartphones and tablets, I see little to no appeal in buying another ebook reader. After all, Kindle and other ebook readers themselves haven’t changed much in terms of what the software provides, only some niche hardware changes.

Same can be said for almost all streaming apps. In fact, we can draw some comparisons from tvOS. The world of Apple TV (the hardware) had seen back and forth between contents providers jostling for control and Apple trying to create more integrate UX. In so many words, apps like Youtube or HBO wanted its custom player on Apple TV apps, whereas Apple wanted its native player app to be utilized. Users quickly learned streaming services do not make a good media player, and making a player app is something of Apple’s forte.

If we go back to ebooks, Amazon, despite its market dominant position, doesn’t make the best of reader apps or reader devices. In fact, most avid readers would often buy paper books alongside the ebooks just to avoid some of the problems ebooks poses. Taking notes and indexing them are just the beginning. Have you ever tried purchasing a Korean book from Amazon? It’s almost non-existent. I see myself as a bookworm, —or a spendthrift on books— and every time I have to install new apps to read same book in different languages it makes me want to throw up. Searching for some authors, especially when they use multiple pen names and that pen names are translated differently every time, it’s a nightmare to find a book. There is no automation. It’s always one more app to install across all of my devices, and one more account to manage, and one storefront I need to keep myself acquainted, because otherwise I wouldn’t even be able to return to that book in the future.

By comparison, Apple did something different with the video contents. The TV app on Apple TV shows a consolidated results of your query. So if you are looking for Christmas classics for the holiday, the app will tell you from which streaming service you can watch it from; instead of searching every streaming app until you get a match or googling it on your phone to see where it is available. This isn’t a game changer or a killer feature to sell Apple devices. But this is what people need to stay sane while streaming from multiple platforms. And last time I checked, book club is still a thing where you need to take notes and share opinions, but somehow Apple decided to provide more cohesive experience for video contents than ordinary books.

So this holiday, let us read books, watch TV shows, and movies on our own apps and devices, of our own accord. Let us manage what we experienced outside of dubious half-baked apps that were clearly outsourced decades ago. Or at least let me export a full list of books I own on each platform, that has to be the first decent thing I could imagine.

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