Digital Bookstore Conundrum

I’ve got a personal problem. But I think others have it too. When you buy an eBook, which eStore should you shop at? Because your eLibrary gets really disjointed if you buy from more than one eTailer.

The Three

Nevermind that one could simply buy real physical books made out of machine-masticated tree meat. I’m talking just eBooks here.

There are eStore options, mainly three: Google Play Books, Apple Books, and Amazon kindle. I’ll also add that since the prices are about the same across the spectrum, I’m omitting that variable.

Amazon kindle

It makes an ocean of sense to buy all your eBooks from Amazon since they pioneered the whole eBook industry. I think the kindle eReader remains the most popular.

Apple Books

What was once iBooks, and also in cahoots or competition with Amazon over pricing, is now Apple Books and is better than ever. Reading on iPhone or iPad is a delight, but if you want to read on a non-Apple device, sorry – no dice.

Google Play Books

Found on the most popular mobile operating system and on the most phones by default, this option is demonstrably valid. And you can read across many devices.

The Problem

The problem is that I’ve bought books across all three digital stores. So my library is scattered like Autumn leaves. If I want to read a book, I must recall where it is and open the right app for that. Worse, if I happen to switch to using an Android phone, I can’t read my Apple Books on it.

Sure, it’s not the world’s biggest issue. But for an organized person like me, it messes up my little world. At this point I can’t fix it unless I decide to re-purchase all my books from one store only. That is cost-prohibitive, I mean bonkers!

But even if I could afford that, which store would I buy from? Which app would I use exclusively? Those are the key questions going forward. If I want to minimize my eBook library being strewn around, I must pick The One store to buy from. But which one? I don’t know.

I guess my vote would go for the one that makes the most sense: Amazon kindle. It’s a “third party” solution, so the kindle app (and eStore) is available across the most devices. And kindle eBooks can be read on their own dedicated devices with eInk screens.

The Solution

Now a great solution would be for one or all the tech giants to set a standard for a personal eLibrary that is web-based. And no matter which company you get eBooks from, they all appear in one unified digital online vault that only you can access.

This solution is like Movies Anywhere. Not long ago, when you bought a movie, the digital copy could be from different vendors and you had to use their specific app to watch it after redeeming the eFlick from their particular website or service. That meant multiple accounts and apps, which nobody wants.

Now you can still buy a movie from iTunes, for example, and it becomes available on YouTube or Google Play Movies thanks to the Movies Anywhere tie-in! It actually works.

We need this for eBooks! If the movie industry figured out the proprietary digital rights management types of coding, then the book industry can figure out how to make different eBooks all work together too.

The Choice

Once upon a chronographical span, my eBook situation was stalwart and straightforward: kindle. It was really the only option. Today, my Paperwhite is still fantastic to read on. But the store and library interface is clunky, and I really dislike not seeing book covers in full color.

On top of that, I had decided to only read books on my smartphone for the sake of simplicity. It’s always with me, and it’s super easy to read in one hand. The phone is always connected to the eBookstore, making it zero-friction when it comes to buying my next book (except for Apple’s store blocking nonsense). Lastly, the book covers are in vivid color.

So then it comes down to either Apple Books or Google Play Books. Both reading apps work great. The overall polish of Apple Books on my iPhone makes it the nicer choice. But the main advantage of Google Play Books is that I can read and buy them on my Chromebook, the web, or potential future Android smartphone.

For now I’m using Google Play Books. But there’s a good chance I’ll end up back on kindle.