One of the biggest Kindle strengths is that, in theory, it does not need manage books on PC. Amazon wants you to use its online store as eBook manager. Make sense - that is, for Amazon. For those of us with large PDF libraries laying around on the hard drives, there is a need to manage and sync books between PC and Kindle somehow. Suggested by Kindle's tech support option is to use MobiPocket reader. This is generic eReader for all kinds of mobile devices like phones and PDAs, it does not have anything Kindle-specific but it can convert various document and eBook formats to .prc or .mobi that Kindle can understand.
How good it is? Not very. First of all, it is confusing. It comes in two shapes, as "Creator" and "Reader" with overlapping functionality. The interface is not clean and well defined and you really need to learn your way around and spend time to get used to it. After some learning curve, it is usable. You can import document into library, it'll get converted and then you can send it to "mobile device". At version 6.2 it has no option for Kindle and, when you send book to device, it'll store it in the eBook folder in the root directory. That means you'll have to open windows explorer and manually move it to Documents folder where Kindle can find it or set up a file watcher and write a script to automate process. All this little inconveniences are not a huge deal, but you'll feel kind of like you are working for boring accounting firm while managing your e-Library.
I have tried to find replacement for MobiPocket with little success, most of what I found was even worse and got wiped out of PC after few painful steps to make it work. And that included one of the early versions Calibre – free open source one-man project that at time looked a little bit limited in functionality and buggy. Last week I came across announcement about new release with a link to the video (below) and decided to give it another try.
This time around, I liked it instantly. Here are features that won me over.
- Somewhat easier to use. The interface seems to be more logical and basic workflow more streamlined. Generally, you just click “add books” to get book into library and then “send to device” to sync it to Kindle. And it will convert it to right format and put in the right place.
- Rich in functionality, especially compare to previous version I played with. It gained a lot by 0.6 release.
- Nice path from easy basic mode to advanced functionality. As you play with it, you discover new features and, if it looks useful, add them to your toolbox. This is much better than to parse overloaded interface in search of basic “how do I just add a new book”.
- Plays well with Kindle. Even though it is also generic book reader just as MobiPocket, it does list Kindle as a device choice and understands Kindle specific rules perfectly.
- News reader - a killer feature. You can choose from many available RSS feeds to be downloaded on your Kindle, including some of the most popular blogs and magazines, or add custom feed. Brilliant!
After a week of intense using it is my default e-Book manager and Kindle companion. If you’ve seen better option, let me know and I’ll be interested to look it up.
For Amazon it seems like competition is worming up lately with Barnes & Noble moving into eBooks business, Sony releasing new readers, Google sitting on huge pile of eBooks and investing in Android, Apple tablet rumors... I hope Amazon will take a note and start doing something on application side of things, opening up APIs and creating some sort of Kindle platform so everybody can benefit.