eBooks, dammit.

The original plan called for tying together a series of unfortunate events in my younger days that led to a terrible date/non-date with a girl named Kendal. This would bee matched up with my frustration with the Kindle (ha) and ereader woes in general.

Then I remembered her name was Kendra, and my ereader problems stemmed from a Libra, and the whole thing fell apart.  In any case, enjoy.

Re-Kindling A Relationship

A while back I picked up a Kobo Libra2 to replace my worn-out Kindle. The Kobo and a case were on sale, and the Kindle had pissed me off too many times that month. Seeing a chance to escape the Amazon garden, I jumped over the wall and into Kobo-Land.

The side buttons were a feature I didn’t know I needed, at first. The screen was beautiful. Responsive, silk-smooth, lit. OverDrive integration, what a blessing! And the ability to sort my sideloaded books into collections on the device? Glorious.

Ah, right; my sideloaded books. So many books from Kickstarters, old Baen CDs, StoryBundles, HumbleBundles, RumbleBumbleBundles. Free epubs for signing up to a newsletter. Free epubs for Patreon members. Free epubs from Project Gutenberg.

Maybe not that many in comparison to others’ libraries, only 600 titles or so. Certainly nothing compared to the amount of books I bought from Amazon which…oh, shit.

Note: This isn’t the time or place to talk about removing DRM from books or converting formats or any of that stuff. You can Lycos Webcrawler search that if you wish.

After some research, swearing, and experimentation, titles I used to read on my Kindle now I could read on the Libra2. Never again would I have to go through this, I thought. My books are moved. Maybe some formatting issues exist, but whatever. I can work around that. My magazines, the old Analogs and Clarkesworlds and Ellery Queens are moved. They function like hot garbage on the Libra2, which is a bummer. My library of non-Amazon books work perfectly. My Amazon books are passable. And the books purchased from Kobo are, well, Non-existent.

Even when a book dropped in price for a sale, even when a book I wanted to read since forever popped up on the Kobo store, I couldn’t do it. No force on Earth could make me log in to my account, add a credit card, and buy a Kobo title.

I’m swimming in Amazon gift cards. Still. To this day. People give them to me all the time. Birthdays, holidays, work related prizes, random strangers on the street wanting to make a good impression. My gift card balance is healthier than the market cap for most alt-coins. It’s nuts.

And that bizarre gift card stockpile made it easy to buy Kindle books. The books I struggled to convert, add to Calibre, move to the Kobo, all while hoping there wasn’t a firmware update that broke my ramshackle system.

As much as I loved the reading experience on the Libra2, I sold it off to an acquaintance looking to replace their old Nook Whatever. That money combined with a trade-in of my forgotten, dusty Kindle to purchase more of Amazon’s newer, sexier hardware. So now a new Kindle Paperwhite Signature sits in the corner of my desk, charging wirelessly, waiting.

But now I’m back to a familiar problem; what about all these sideloaded books?

Re-Kindling Frustration

Amazon made changes in late 2022 to allow for sideloading epubs onto the Kindle platform, while moving away from the old azw and mobi formats. Great! Epub is an industry standard, mobi is old Amazon hat. Let’s go!

Ah, not so fast. Will you email the file to your Kindle? The filename will become the title and the author, well, death of the author and all that, right? Every book you send via email to your Kindle is now written by Unknown. They are, I’m told, exceedingly prolific. (There’s workarounds for this, I’m sure.)

Let’s try the Send to Kindle app. Now I can add an author name, so it does have bare bones functionality. And as long as the books I’m uploading have the same author, I can batch process them. Hope you don’t fat-finger any of this or screw up a copy/paste operation.

There’s a third way. It’s not much better. Move the epub files to my iPhone using iCloud. Click on each file, tap Share and select Kindle. Edit the title and author name, then click OK. The epub magically shows up in the Kindle App with a cover (once it is opened), and the correct filename and author. Total time for one file is 40 seconds.

Looking at my list of 300 books to upload, I decided to cut my losses. I’ll upload them as I want to read them.

“You should use Calibre!” I heard from the crowd. Well, no, I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t have to because I don’t want to. For me, the News functionality of Calibre is a waste of code. So are plugboards. It’s a most things app. I’d rather have a supported, dedicated tool for the job. I’d like the books in the cloud, available on my Kindle and my phone, and I don’t want to deal with yet another piece of software designed for 80 things when I only need it to do 1.

The fact that once my non-Amazon books are up and in the cloud not my computer, I still can only export highlights and notes from those books as a txt file on the Kindle itself is another equally frustrating topic.

Perhaps Amazon doesn’t consider it in their best interest to support books not purchased from their store. The honorable, non-cowardly way to do that is to stop providing half-formed tools that offer a false promise. Just be honest. Pull an Apple and say “This is a completely walled garden. Deal with it.” *shades drop*