With the Creators Update, Microsoft introduced a new feature in the system – Book reading.
They did a relatively decent job, started a new section in the Windows Store and added reader capabilities to Edge, like having a nice home page for your books, showing progress, etc., they also added support for EPUB in Edge, and though it’s not strictly part of the reading experience, the Night Light feature helps a lot when reading for a longer time.
But the problem is, this whole thing is just not quite ready for production.
Here are a couple of things, I’d like to see on this front.
Equal reader capabilities for EPUB and PDF
For EPUB files the reading experience is quite pleasant. Edge remembers the progress even if the tab or the browser itself was closed or the computer restarted. We also have table of contents, the ability to add bookmarks (though I wish we could add a tag or comment to it, instead of just having the name of the chapter) and Read aloud capability.
For PDF files on the other hand we have pretty much nothing. No bookmarks, no table of content*, no remembering of the reading progress… But we have a quite nice feature, the ability to add comments and drawings to a PDF file*.
I’d like to get the best of both worlds for both formats, so to have a proper reader experience for each file format.
* Table of Contents and Annotations are coming for PDFs with the Fall Creators Update
Better support for “local” books
At this moment, the reading home page for your books is tightly tied to the books you bought from the Windows Store (which by the way is a US only service), and does not include books from your local storage.
I think what we would need is something similar to what we have with Groove and the Films & TV apps, meaning they will show your movies and music purchased from the Store, but they will also show your personal content, whether it’s stored on your machine or on your OneDrive.
I’d like to see a new folder popping up in the My Documents folder (and on OneDrive) along with Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos, a new Books folder that would be the default location for your EPUB and PDF books and would be scanned automatically by Edge.
Of course when I’m talking about OneDrive, I’d also expect a synchronised state for my books, including reading progress, bookmarks, comments, highlights, etc.
Decouple it from Edge
I think it would do great good to this whole reading experience if it wouldn’t be coupled with Edge. Unfortunately Edge is not popular enough, and most people will be just frustrated if it keeps popping up when they want to read a book. Also this book reading service is quite hidden as of right now, so even people who DO use Edge will likely not find it easily.
Make it a separate app, just like the Groove and Film & TV apps, put it front and center, make it available for people who don’t otherwise use Edge.
Update: I would go even further and say that Edge’s “Reading View” function for websites should also rather be part of this standalone Reader app, than Edge itself, so people would have the chance to say browse the internet with an alternative browser but then use this Reader app to turn a given webpage into an ebook. As the function deals with static HTML and you can not navigate around in the Reading View, they wouldn’t even have to think about things like cookies and authentication, it’s simply just about downloading a piece of HTML, running some magic on top of it, and getting the converted ebook format at the end of the process.
Please upvote the corresponding Feedback if you agree with me