In depth with Collections in Kindle for PC 1.6
I recently wrote about an update to the free Kindle reader app, Kindle for PC.
I have time today to experiment with it, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more.
First, if you don’t have it already, you can get it at here:
Kindle for PC official page
However, I have heard from one of my readers, and read about it on the Amazon Kindle forum, that it has crashed their Kindle for PCs. I don’t have a pattern on that yet. Mine was fine: on the computer where I have it is, I’m using Windows Vista Home Premium, Service Pack 2. If yours had problems, I’d love to hear what operating system you have. You can open your Windows Explorer (the Windows button, with the four wavy squares and usually to your left of the ALT key to your left of your spacebar, combined with the letter E will get you there), and then right-click on Computer and choose Properties. That should tell you your version.
From within Kindle for PC, you can choose Help, Future Improvements…that will give you a link to download an upgraded version.
Second, the Collections/Shelfari upgrade has also come to Kindle for Mac:
Kindle for Mac official page
I don’t know about it having come to any other Kindle apps..yet. I suspect they’ll all get it eventually.
Third, it appears that the “copy and paste” feature I mentioned may not be available everywhere in the world. That happens: that are complications to exporting software, and in this case, copyright laws may also be an issue. Why? How much and under what circumstances you can copy and paste without getting permission from the copyright holder (if any) varies from country to country. “Fair use” isn’t defined the same way everywhere…hey, last I checked, Afghanistan had no copyright laws…
Those are the three non-use things that really stand out to me since I last wrote about the upgrade.
Okay, let’s get down to using it.
What is Kindle for PC?
It is a free application that allows you to read Kindle store books on your PC. It does quite a few other things…one I really like is that you can write notes in the application and have them appear on your Kindle. If you are like me and actually learned to touch type, it can be so much easier to do it on a full-sized keyboard like your PC may have than on your Kindle’s tiny keyboard. For those of you following my public notes on
I do really plan to do some at some point. ;) I have one book in particular where I’m planning to write some, and I’ll do them in Kindle for PC.
That’s been existing functionality, though.
There are a few new things with this upgrade…so new that don’t appear to be reflected on the Amazon help pages yet:
The big addition is Collections.
Collections are a way to organize your books (and some other items) on your Kindle…and now, on your Kindle for PC.
What you are doing is “tagging” a book as belonging to a certain group…say, “Mysteries” and/or “To Be Read”.
One reason to do that is to make them easier to find.
On Kindle for PC, you see three groupings automatically:
- All Items
- Downloaded Items
- Archived Items
The Downloaded Items are actually on this PC. The Archived Items are not, but are available for download. All Items combines the two…they should add up.
Below that, there is a section for Collections.
You can create Collections directly on the PC, or you can import the Collections of another device (such as the ones from a Kindle where you have already created Collections).
In either case, you click the plus to your right of Collections. You can also use the File menu, or do CTRL+N.
Give it a name…then click on Downloaded Items. You can drag the titles you want (either their covers, or their names if you are using List View) on to that Collection. You’ll see a highlight bar when you are over the Collection: release your mouse button, and that does it. You’ll see the number of items in the Collection increase. If you try to drag one into a Collection that is already in it, nothing happens.
Unfortunately, I could not find any way to drag more than title at once.
Still, that’s much faster than doing it on a Kindle.
Most intriguingly at this point, you can drag titles into the Collection from the Archived Items. Remember, those are not on the PC yet. They do not automatically download. For the first time, we can put titles into our Collections while they are still in the Archives. That will also really speed things up! If they aren’t downloaded yet, you’ll see an icon of a cloud with a downward pointing arrow on it. Right-click on the title, and you can download it if you want.
Another way to create a Collection is to right-click on a title (downloaded or not) and choose to Add to Collection (New Collection).
Again, this means we can organize the titles in our archives into Collections without downloading them first.
I did test it: if I right-clicked an archived item that is in a Collection on my Kindle and not in one on my K4PC, that Collection was unknown to the K4PC.
The other thing you can do is import Collections. You can use that plus, the File menu, or do CTRL+I.
You’ll see a choice of your devices which have Collections (excluding the one from which you are checking). Select the one you want (you can just click the box with your mouse or, as is common in computers, use the arrow key to get to the one you want, then use the spacebar to select it).
The definitions of those Collections then appear on the K4PC. If those particular items are on your K4PC, they’ll appear in the Collection. If they aren’t, they’ll appear in the Collection as “download options” with that little cloud arrow icon.
One thing that might throw you (it threw me at first) was that the number of items might be different on your Kindle and your K4PC for a given Collection. That’s because you can put what Amazon calls Personal Documents (including books from sources other than Amazon) into a Collection. Those items are not stored for you on Amazon’s servers, so they can’t appear as download options (hmm…would “Cloud Titles” sound better?). For example, my Current Collection on my Kindle has 12 items in it…that includes non-Amazon items. When I imported the Collections, I only got nine of them.
Also, items that can’t work on the K4PC (active content, like the games and Kindle apps) don’t appear in the imported Collection…that makes sense.
You have copied the Collection. Changes you make after the import to the Collections on the Kindle or on the K4PC won’t affect the Collections on the other device. Add a book to a Collection on the Kindle, and it won’t add to the Collection on the K4PC. You can always just import them again, though.
One weird thing, though, and it isn’t working the way it is supposed to work. When I import Collections and those Collections already exist on the device, I get duplicated Collections. They are supposed to merge…I shouldn’t have two Current Collections, for example…but I get that both on my Kindle and on my K4PC. On the K4PC, they appended an at sign @ at the end of the name of the Collection.
They have to get that fixed! Otherwise, when I want to update the Collections from Kindle to K4PC, I’ll have to delete them all one at a time from the K4PC first (if I’ve previously imported them). That could be a real headache.
Oh, here was something that was nice, to sort of balance that. :) When I added a Collection on my Kindle, did a Sync & Check to Amazon, and imported Collections into my K4PC literally five seconds later, the one came in.
On your left side of the screen, you can right-click on the Collections.
By the way, that’s a general tip on a Windows PC…when in doubt, right-click. On a Kindle, when in doubt, hit the Menu button.
You can delete a Collection, Rename it, or Duplicate it. The last one is a choice we don’t have on our Kindles.
Why would you duplicate a Collection?
Let’s say you made a Collection called Animal Stories. You realized five out of your six were about cats. You could duplicate the Collection, name the second one Cat Stories, and remove the one dog title from that one.
The way K4PC named the duplicated Collection was to add a number to it. Duplicate Current, and the second is Current1. Duplicate it again, and it’s Current2, and so on.
One weird thing: I can’t figure out how the K4PC is sorting the imported Collections. I can’t choose another sort. It doesn’t appear to be by title, quantity, or date added. When I duplicate a Collection, it appears at the bottom of the list. When I create a new Collection, it appears at the bottom of the list. That seems logical. However, I can’t change the order to get those created Collections above the imported ones.
Bottom line: working with Collections in K4PC is generally easier than working with them on the Kindle. One exception: I think it may be easier to add a bunch of books to a Collection on the Kindle, since you just need to click on them (first, right-click on the Collection and then choose Add/Remove Items)…that could be easier than dragging. If they can figure out how to allow dragging of multiple items at once, though, that eliminates that as a plus.
Amazon says you don’t need a computer to use a Kindle, and that’s technically correct…but it does make it easier. It’s a bit like saying you don’t need a hammer to drive a nail…you don’t, but it’s usually the best method. ;)
What do you think? Have you found anything else I omitted? More questions? Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.