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This has been a year of tech experimentation for me. I gave up my clunky-but-serviceable Kindle Touch in favor of a slick, front-lit Kobo. I relegated my iPad 2 to work functions, and picked up a more ergonomic iPad Mini for home use. And I experimented with various apps in search of a perfect reading platform. I didn’t find it. It is with mixed feelings that I declare the Kindle app the ‘winner,’ and give up on iBooks. Here’s why:

The Kindle can sync personal documents.

That’s it. That’s the killer feature iBooks and Kobo and all the rest lack, and it makes up for the shortcomings the Kindle app has compared to its main competitors. You can load your own stuff, of course. You just can’t synchronize it across your various iGizmos.

At first, I gave up on the Kindle app (in favor of iBooks) for a few reasons. I couldn’t cut and paste from it (I use a quote-keeper app, and got tired of manually typing stuff in), and  its lack of shelf/tag organization was tedious. So iBooks was prettier, and it has those features, and I was seduced.

But … here was the problem: Without the ability to sync personal documents (i.e., novels purchased from other sources), I found that I was segregating my content by device. The Mini had the daily reading stuff (yoga books, religion books) I might want to quote from. The iPad had French books I could read during little breaks at school (I teach French, so this is work-related stuff). The iPhone had short story collections I could read on the bus. And it was all beautiful to look it, and I have been reading lots and lots …  but I haven’t been finishing anything. I knocked off one full book this month during my ‘read in bed time.’ One book, for all of January! Pathetic! And that’s it.

I feel like I’m reading more than ever, but none of it is actually getting done, because there is content coming at me from so many different channels that it’s fragmenting my reading time. What I need to do is pick one book at a time and read it whenever I have a chance, on whichever device I have with me.

I still find the Kobo Glo to be an exceptional reading experience, and I prefer it for longer-form reading. But I like to mix it up with other stuff, and I’m worrying that with pretty, mono-device iBooks, I’ll wind up with too many ducks in too many ponds. So, with reluctance, I’m moving my short-form reading back to the Kindle app system. On the bus, at school—wherever—I can pick up where I left off and just get stuff done.

I do think iBooks has some superior features. But for my app needs, I have to simplify, so I’m going with the one I can read on all my devices. So it’s Kindle for the win—with reservations.

 
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