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When choosing an eBook reader application, what are the features that a user should seek for managing a set of book / book collection?

  • Amazing how people want to close a question as "too many possible answers" when it doesn't even have TWO – DVK Dec 25 '13 at 1:08
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  1. Collection download and transfer

    • Ability to synchronize your collection between multiple devices

    • Ability to synchronize your collection with the cloud

      • As a subset of this, backing up and restoring your collection in the cloud
    • Ability to manually download books from your PC collection to mobile device without automated syncing

    • Ability to connect to eBook vendors of your choice, purchase ebooks from them and download (Amazon, Samsung, Apple, other web books stores...)

    • Ability to recognize the book (author/title) by reading the unknown book's content and matching it to special content database, the way music players can identify an MP3 file by the audio fingerprint. Not sure if any software today supports this.

  2. Picking a specific book from a collection

    • Finding a book by file name substring

    • Finding a book by browsing the directory

      • Ideally, should let you sort within subdirectories by your choice (by date, by name, by size)
    • Tagging and searching by tag

    • Ability to read book metadata, including EPUB; and finding books by metadata

    • Finding a book by searching for a string in actual book text

    • If books support summary blurbs, ability to view a blurb before opening the book

  3. For mobile devices, persistence of experience

    • Remember the last book you were reading, and open it immediately

    • Remember several of the last books you were reading for quick pick

    • Remember the last directory you opened the book from, and start browsing there

    • Remember a list of your past searches and let you re-do them

  4. Social features

    • Rate books

    • Recommend books

    • Share books

    • For DRM books that support it, lend books

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Although reading books is often properly implemented even on older ebook readers (including bookmarks), selecting a book from those available on the device is often a cumbersome affair. This gives the impression that some ebook device developers only tried the device with a handful of books instead with a more realistic number of a few thousand books.

An ebook reader should allow you to browse the book collection using a flexible hierarchical structure (and not just by author name and book title). This structure can be based on a directory structure you specify on the storage medium, combined with metadata taken from the book; or on metadata only.

When using the directory structure to browse, the directory can only be browsed by directory name (as a directory, in contrast to an ebook file, has no metadata). The individual files should be browsable by file name or by various elements of a file's metadata.

Metadata

The ebook reader should allow

  • sorting of books by author in sorted order of author name (not the normal name).

  • sorting by series and number of a book within that series.

  • sorting by title (sort version if available).

  • sorting by year of publication

  • sorting by language

The order of applying these sorting of data has to be non-fixed. You have to be able to specify the order of all of these sorting elements as per your needs. This allows you to traverse a hierarchy ordered on the first level by author, than by language of the book and then by title at one time; and by language, author, series, series-number at some other time, etc.

Details for EPUB

An EPUB ebook reader should always sort authors by a <creator>'s file-as attribute instead of the non-tag part of the <creator> element (sorting by the non-tag part can be made user selectable, but this is seldom necessary). Thus

<dc:creator opf:role="aut" opf:file-as="Asimov, Isaac">Isaac Asimov</dc:creator>

will be sorted under 'A'.

Unfortunately the EPUB <title> tag has no such defined sorting option, but if a <meta> tag is available with attribute name="title_sort" the elements content tag value should have sorting preference.

At no time should it be necessary to mangle an ebook's filename or its metadata to get a usable selection hierarchy. Unfortunately on some deficient readers you have to corrupt the above mentioned data, e.g. the <creator> tag to:

<dc:creator opf:role="aut">Asimov, Isaac</dc:creator>

in order to get a book sorted under author name 'A'

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