The pithy version

It is a reasonable postulate that I can be excessively verbose (translation: I may talk too much).  ;)

I’ve done this once before, and I think it was helpful for people.

In this post, I’m going to give you short (no more than seven words) answers to some frequently asked Kindle and e-book questions.  I may link you to a post I’ve done with a more thorough answer…I’m not counting that link as a word.  ;)

Please recognize that my goal here is to give a straight ahead, simple answer.  I won’t be as polite as I usually like to be, and if there is a workaround that lets you get to what you want but isn’t the actual answer to your question, I may not be able to get that in here.  To keep these short, I’m going to leave out Kindle 1 answers (since it works significantly differently from the others in several areas).   If you want a more complete answer to anything, feel free to ask.  :)

Oh, and my feeling is that the answer “no” should almost always read “not yet”.

Q. Can I send a Kindle book as a gift to someone else’s Kindle?

A. No.  Use gift cards.

Q. Will I run out of memory on my Kindle?

A. No.  Remove books you are done reading.

Q. Can I buy books from Barnes and Noble and read them on my Kindle?

A. No.

Q. Is it true that I can only read books I buy from Amazon on my Kindle?

A. No.  Lots of other sources.

Q. Is there a charge for using the internet on my Kindle?

A. Only for sending yourself documents wirelessly.

Q. If I bought a book in paper before, do I get it for free for my Kindle now?

A. No.  Amazon pays publishers, you pay Amazon.

Q. Can I share Kindle store books with my friends and family?

A. Yes, if they are on your account.

Q. Do all books have text-to-speech?

A. Not if the publisher blocks it.

Q. Can I tell if a book has the text-to-speech blocked before I buy it?

A. Yes.  Amazon’s page will say “not enabled”

Q. Do the current Amazon Kindles have a memory card slot?

A. No.  Connect to computer, back up that way

Q. What do I do if my Kindle is lost or stolen?

A. Deregister immediately at Manage Your Kindle

Q. Is the Kindle backlit?

A. No, it’s like paper.  More eye friendly

Q. Why aren’t there more books available/available in my country?

A. Legal, licensing, marketing…expect more soon

Q. Why can’t I get the Harry Potter books for my Kindle legally?

A. J.K. Rowling says no

Q. Why aren’t all books $9.99?

A. Amazon never said so.  Many are less.

Q. Can I listen to music on my Kindle?

A. Yes.  MP3s only. Put in music folder

Q. Should I turn off my Kindle or put it to sleep?

A. Sleep, better for it, unless it’s acting weird

Q. Where can I see the Kindle documentation online?

A. Here

Q. My favorite book isn’t on the Kindle.  What can I do to get it “Kindleized”?

A. Write the rightsholder: author/estate, publisher

Q. Can I add “sleep mode pictures” to my Kindle?

A. Kindle 1, yes.  Others need a “hack”

Q. Can I install my own fonts?

A. No.  Would require a hack

Q. Do the “hacks” that are out there void my warranty?

A. No, but they violate Terms of Service

Q. Can the Kindle display languages other than English?

A. Some.  Depends on characters needed.  Images ok.

Q. Can I change the contrast on my Kindle?

A. No.

Q. What are some other sources for books I can use on my Kindle besides Amazon?

A. Gutenberg.org, Feedbooks.com, ManyBooks.net, Baen, Fictionwise, many more

Q. Will Amazon pay me a referrer fee for getting people to buy Kindles?

A. Yes.  Become an Associate first.

Q. Can I share magazine and newspaper subscriptions with Kindles on the same account, like I can with books?

A. No.

Q. What are the charges for using the wireless internationally when I’m a US customer traveling abroad?

Q. $1.99/book, $4.99/week/subscriptions

Q. Can I avoid those charges by using my computer and transferring via USB?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I set the clock on my Kindle myself?

A. No.

Q. Does it play games?

A. Yes.  Alt+Shift+M

Q. Can I permanently delete a book, so I don’t see it anywhere?  I don’t mind if I have to buy it again later.

A.  Yes.  Manage Your Kindle, plus box, delete

Q. Can I update my US only version to be an international version with software?

A. No, it’s a hardware difference

Q. Is an international version of the larger DX model coming?

A. Yes, in 2010

Q. What does public domain mean?

A. Not under copyright protection

Q. Why are there different versions of the same book for sale at different prices?

A. Anyone can publish public domain, set prices

Q. Is Amazon doing anything about the bad formatting in some Kindle books?

A. Yes.  Recently, may remove from store

Q. How do I know if a book is poorly formatted before I buy it?

A. Get a free sample

Q. If I get an e-book I don’t like, can I return it?

A. Within seven days: Amazon, not Sony, B&N

Q. Can I buy books from Amazon if I can’t get a wireless connection?

A. Yes.  Buy from computer, transfer via USB

Q. Can I organize the books on my Kindle?

A. Yes.  Use tags.  More coming in 2010

Q. When is the Kindle 3 coming out?

A. 4 so far, 5th in 2010

Q. If Amazon goes out of business will I not be able to read my e-books?

A. No.  Would be legal to circumvent DRM

Q. Wouldn’t it be like having Beta videotapes?

A. No.  That was hardware, this is software

Q. Is Bufo your real name?

A. Yes.  :)

This post by Bufo Calvin first appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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9 Responses to “The pithy version”

  1. Walk Says:

    thanks; this is helpful. I hope you are right about all these things. I question your advice to ‘sleep’ the machine rather than turn it off. I’ve had a K2 for six months and usually turn it off at night; the battery seems to last longer when I do.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Walk!

      My advice on that is based on what Amazon says about it. For example, on page 17 of the current User’s Guide, Amazon says: “Sleeping your Kindle will extend battery life…”

      Here is an old post from Amazon Customer Service (http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?_encoding=UTF8&cdMsgNo=312&cdPage=13&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx1XWROEYYNYZUA&cdMsgID=Mx3V3TD327WRT00#Mx3V3TD327WRT00) where they say,

      “You do not need to power down Kindle 2 between reading sessions, it is best to leave the device in sleep mode. Holding the switch at the top to power the device off is similar to pulling the power cord on your computer without shutting down the Operating System. “

      I’ve also seen it reported many times in the Amazon Kindle community that Amazon Customer Service gave people the same advice.

      I’ve had Kindles for a couple of years now. I started out always turning it off, but now I only turn them off when I want to reset something.

      I doubt it’s a big difference either way, but I would tend to go with Amazon on this.

      • Walk Says:

        Thanks Bufo Calvin, I’ll try sleeping it for a while. I appreciate your documentation. (Love that last name — John Calvin is my hero.)

      • bufocalvin Says:

        Great! Let me know if it works.

        No relation…mine’s an Ellis Island-type anglicization.

  2. tuxgirl Says:

    interesting. i did not know that circumventing the drm would be legal if amazon went out of business. is that hidden in a corner of the dmca someplace?

    (i still think that circumventing drm should be legal for personal use (fair use, format shift), but apparently the government figured that people who dont care about following copyright law might care about following the dmca…)

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tuxgirl!

      It’s a little more complex than that, but that’s the basic idea. It would actually have to be that the format was no longer commercially out there. So, if some other company bought and supported azw and Topaz. it would not be legal. The Copyright Office says:


      “A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.”

      This comes from a final rule (37 CFR Part 201) which you can read here:

      http://www.copyright.gov/1201/docs/fedreg-notice-final.pdf

      It does not specifically say that it applies to e-books, but it does apply to “computer programs and videogames” and could be reasonably extended.

      I don’t think that any fair use would be an acceptable reason for circumventing (“hacking”) Digital Rights Management. Let’s say someone has Kindle for PC, and is writing an article about it. Could they legally hack the current DRM to make it copy and paste? I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

      However, if a publisher does not allow any version of an e-book to do text-to-speech, then it is legal.


      “Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the
      work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain
      access controls that prevent the enabling of the ebook’s read-aloud function and
      that prevent the enabling of screen readers to render the text into a “specialized
      format.”

      That doesn’t mean (oh, and here’s a good argument against hacking for any fair use) that you can legally hack the Kindle edition when TTS is blocked. As long as the publisher makes some edition available (even one that requires print disability certification), then blocking it in others is legal.

    • tuxgirl Says:

      I believe you’re correct that fair use is not an acceptable reason for circumventing. I just think it ought to be. If I have no intention of breaking any existing copyright laws, why should it be illegal to circumvent the DRM? What if I want to do something as simple as watching a dvd movie on a computer that is running Linux or FreeBSD? Why is that illegal? What if I want to take my movie collection on a 2-week vacation, but don’t want to drag the physical media with me?

      I think that copyright law is important (although a bit over-extended). I just think that the DMCA doesn’t add anything useful to copyright…

      Anyway, that’s just my view on it. Making new laws that further restrict what people can do doesn’t help with enforcing the existing laws. Let’s focus on stopping piracy, and not on stopping fair use.

  3. Dana Says:

    I love this! Thanks for the concise answers and links for those who like the long version…… :D

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks, Dana!

      I’m glad you like it. :) I did one like it way back ;) on February 22 2009 in the Kindle forum. I may add more links to it over time, and add more questions and answers. That’s one of the interesting things about blogging to me. You can update the information with out needing a print run (p-books) or a new ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).

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