Kindle reflections: Do nothing badly

I got a Kindle as a birthday gift, a practical, non-iPad antidote to caving to an iPhone 18 months ago, when I turned in my trusty Blackberry.

(Side note for int’l travelers: AT&T iPhone data plan does not cover Kenya).

The Kindle has a great feature with a tiny glitch:  “Sync to Furthest Page Read.”  It works seamlessly between the Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app, letting you read on your Kindle at home, pick up where you left off on your iPhone, and come back to your Kindle at the end of the day without ever having to flip pages.

The glitch is that you can never go backwards.  So if you go to the end of the book once (because, say, someone else read the book before you; or you’re rereading a  book; or you went to the index once), the sync becomes useless – it always syncs to the last page ever read in the book, with no way that I can find to reset it.

I was trying to figure out if there’s an easy fix to this glitch by skimming the Kindle User’s Guide, whose three different version (v3, v4, v5) take up too much real estate on my Kindle’s Home screen.  And while I didn’t find a fix to the problem, I did discover that my Kindle can do all sorts of things I never knew about: I can post to Twitter from my Kindle about a book I’m reading; I can browse the web; I can type notes in the margin of whatever I’m reading; and on and on.

And guess what?  Nearly all of those features are slow, clunky, and nearly unusable.  It’s the kind of meager feature creep that happens with subsequent iterations on a product – ironically cutting directly against what Kindle did so well: create a reader that’s JUST a reader, and make it incredibly quick and easy to buy books from the largest online store around.

“Do nothing badly” is not an inspiring mantra, but it’s a good way to kill lots of nice-to-have ideas that you know you won’t execute better than anyone else.  It’s much more actionable than “do everything well” because “everything” sounds like too much and what exactly do we mean by “well?”

“Nothing,” on the other hand, is much clearer.

“We will not do one thing, not single thing badly.  Not even one.  Not ever.”

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