The Kindle Fire comes with a SDXC card slot that outclasses every other tablet in its price range, accommodating storage cards that can hold as much as 128GB of media — but it won't read ebooks from the slot.
Chris adds, "This seems like a strange oversight, given that every other media app on the tablet uses that card for downloading and storage, and its 5 GB usable internal memory isn't a lot for people who have a large library of picture-heavy e-books — especially if they want to install other apps, too."
I've noticed that most device ecosystems make it hard to use sideloaded media. When I circulate early drafts of my books to friends and family, they frequently can't figure out how to get their Kindles, phones and tablets to recognize them, even when they're formated as MOBIs and EPUBs.
Every walled garden wants to keep out the competition. Amazon also announced yesterday that it would stop carrying the Chromecast and Appletv, devices from Google and Apple that compete with its own Fire TV.
But then, for all that the SD card is supposedly the Fire's most compelling feature, and the Fire's other media apps are able to use it just fine (as I'll discuss when I get to Amazon Video in a bit), the Kindle app simply wouldn't recognize it at all. I put hundreds of e-books into the "Books" directory on the SD card and the app wouldn't even notice they were there. "Your device is empty," it told me, and helpfully offered me the option to shop the store or download my content.
If I used my file system navigator of choice, ES File Manager, to navigate to the folder on the SD card and tapped on one of the e-book files, it would load just fine via the Kindle app. But it wouldn't be added to my library, and the Kindle app wouldn't remember my place in it for the next time I opened it again. It did look pretty, but it didn't make me inclined to want to try to use it for extended reading. I suppose I could always use the file manager to copy any e-book I did want to read into internal memory so the Kindle app would know it was there and keep track of it, but it seems like a lot of trouble to go to when the Paperwhite offers a better reading experience anyway.
I looked for EPUB readers in the Appstore but didn't see any app names I recognized and didn't feel like trying out any of the ones I didn't. Maybe I'll check into that some other time.
First look: Amazon's $50 Fire tablet