When I was a kid, the local library hated me and loved me at the same time. I read. I read a lot. I’d go in weekly and come home with 12-20 books. Every week. Even when I was a teenager, I’d still read numerous quantities of books a week. The local library couldn’t keep books on the shelf for me. I was requesting books from neighboring libraries because our library didn’t have enough books for me.
Then I started college and just stopped reading. I was too busy studing (yes, I did study, just in case mom or dad end up reading this) or playing video games with my friends. In other words, I had better things to do than read books.
When ebooks were first introduced, I thought they were awesome. I could start reading again. I could quickly and easily get any book I wanted on my ebook reader. I managed to get the Barnes and Noble Nook when it was first released. Wow, was it a piece of shit. The unit that I managed to aquire went back to the store in 24 hours. It had hardware issues galore. Nothing worked right on it. After the Nook, I didn’t bother with any more ebook readers until I got an iPad.
I read some books on my original iPad, until I got tired of the weight. The original iPad is surprisingly heavy. It wasn’t comfortable to use for long periods. When I upgraded to an iPad 2 I read a few more. But I still found shortcomings. It always seemed to come down to the same thing. Ebooks. They are fundamentally broken by design.
Ebooks should be universal. It shouldn’t matter what device I own or use. If I buy, rent or borrow an ebook, I should be able to read it on any ereader. MP3s play on any MP3 player. Ebooks should be readable on any ereader. But instead publishers and distributors have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t figure that out. Hell, some authors can’t even figure out that people want their ebooks.
J.K. Rowlings, the author of the Harry Potter series, didn’t have ebooks until May of 2012. Just as a reminder, the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007.
But what really promted this post is the recent arrival of Oyster Books into the ebook world.
Oyster offers unlimited access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month, with new titles added all the time. We created Oyster to evolve the way people read and to create more of the special moments that only books can offer. From anywhere a mobile device can go—a bustling subway car, a quiet coffee shop, or lost at sea with a Bengal tiger—our mission is to build the best reading experience, one that is both communal and personal, anytime, anywhere.
$10 a month with the first month free. Netflix for ebooks. I figured I’d at least try it out. I’m lazy, so I’ll pay for the convenience. Maybe it would get me reading more. I registered and downloaded the app on my iPad. It is a beautiful interface, and browsing books was nice. But a quick search revealed (Oh, you wanted to check for books before you sign up, too bad. Not currently possible.) that my favorite author wasn’t in their lineup. So I checked out a few other authors that I like and loaded up a book. I’m not sure who made the usability decisions on this app, but they should definitely be fired. To turn the page you have to swipe up. Really? Up? Not side to side, but up? Who thought that was a good idea?
I think this was the easiest decision to make. I canceled my account and deleted the app within 5 minutes of signing up. (Yes, I did check the settings for a different swipe option but didn’t find one.) Maybe this will push me to visit my local library more often with my iPad.
It’s 2013. How much longer do we have to deal with ebook bullshit before they become usable?