The Kindle Service
Buying a Kindle from Amazon isn’t just getting a piece of hardware.
It isn’t even just the software that comes on the device.
Amazon provides a lot of service with your Kindle, and I wanted to address that in this post.
First, let me say that I may have scared some people with my article on Mulling my options. :) I was talking about what I may do since one of my Kindles has gone missing. I mentioned several hardware options.
I always like to think about the options. I know I have a very positive feeling about the Kindle and Amazon. For me, that always makes me want to look at other things carefully, to balance any possible prejudice.
There are obvious advantages to staying with Amazon…and that’s what I think I’ll ultimately do. I’m going to give it about another month before I replace it. Regardless, I’ll be with Amazon, since we still have Kindles in the family…and by far, the odds are that I’ll get another Kindle.
So, what does Amazon give you as service for your Kindle?
This is a big one. You get free wireless internet access. Yes, I can go to Fandango or check on my offspring’s flight for free. It’s 3G; I can get to it in a restaurant, on the beach…I’ve done both of those. Yes, there are charges if I send a personal document directly to a Kindle, but that’s unusual. Admittedly, the Kindle internet is quite clunky, but I do use it.
Free book back-up and storage
Another huge factor. When we buy books from the Kindle store, Amazon automatically backs them up for us. I can redownload those books for free for the device for which I bought them as many times as I want to do that. Data storage costs money: Amazon gives it to you for free.
Free downloading to multiple devices
This is one we use quite a bit, although it’s really provided by the publisher. You can usually download the same Kindle store book to up to six devices simultaneously, although the actual number is up to the publisher. The technology, though, of having access to the archives on all of your devices is something Amazon gives you. If I get another Kindle, as seems likely, I won’t have to do anything to make the books available to me: they’ll be available right from the same device, and I’ll get to choose which ones I want to download to that device. Even if I didn’t have Whispernet access, the process is pretty simple.
Free reader apps
This is arguably a software thing, but it’s something Amazon gives us for free. You can read your Kindle store books on a PC, a Mac, an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod touch, a Blackberry, and soon, Android phones. This is clearly separate from the hardware, but it shows me a commitment to making my books available to me.
This one sometimes comes in very handy. Amazon stores my “last read page” on their servers. Since my Kindle has been gone, I’ve been reading on an older Kindle we have. I was able to open right up to where I was in the book I was reading when it happened, no problem, no guessing. This works particularly nicely with Kindle for PC: I can look at a picture on the Kindle for PC (where it may look much better), and still stay in the same place in the book on my Kindle and my computer.
Backup of annotations
I like this one, too. I do highlight quotations, and I love being able to get to them at http://kindle.amazon.com . Now, admittedly, they don’t do this with books I get from other sources, but it is still nice. When I download a book from my Kindle archives on to another device, I still have my notes.
Seven day refunds on e-book purchases
To my knowledge, this is different from Barnes & Noble or Sony. I’m not all that worried about downloading a book by accident, but sometimes books are poorly formatted, and this is a way to deal with that. Sometimes, publishers reissue books under different titles, and this is a safety net for that as well.
We got a couple of updates on the K1, but there have been more and more are promised on the K2. Amazon could just make you buy a new model or pay for the software updates: after all, these aren’t fixes, typically, they are added features. That’s definitely an argument for the K2 over the K1, right now…I’m interested in seeing what they’ve done with Collections.
Kindle Customer Service
Amazon Customer Service is highly rated, and with good reason. You can have them call you, and that works very well. While they aren’t infallible, I’ve gotten some very good information from them. Yes, I’m more techie than average, but I haven’t had any trouble finding the way to reach them. They could make the service number more obvious (I’d like to see it listed in an obvious manner on the device itself), but this is still good. They also give us feedback e-mail addresses, and you can even e-mail Jeff Bezos himself. That’s nice, and worth a lot.
Social networking and aggregation
Honestly, I don’t know if I would use the klipentweet…but I might. That sort of innovative integration is a good thing, in my mind…especially because it is optional. I also like the “Popular Highlights”, although I could get to those without a Kindle.
Free! Samples! Amazon isn’t the only e-book store to do this (Barnes and Noble does), but it’s really great at lunch. It’s especially important on non-fiction books: I can hear somebody on the radio or see them on TV and the book sounds great, but then they may be poorly written or documented. On some collections, this can get you an entire free book!
Depth of Kindle Store
Big, big, big! The Kindle store has a lot more in-copyright books than other sources. Its self-publishing (which could be used to publish whether or not you have a Kindle) means we see a lot of unique offerings. Yes, some of those may be offered elsewhere as well, but a lot of them will be exclusive. Amazon is also getting other exclusives, from big authors/publishers. I’m not sure if the British Library books will be exclusive to Amazon in the US, but I’m really looking forward to those.
The Kindle forums
I can’t overstate the importance of this. This is a free area that Amazon provides. I assume they datamine it, which is a good thing. I’ve gotten so much out of this, including information and fun. I’ve looked at the Barnes & Noble forums…sorry, but they just don’t compare. You just aren’t going to get hundreds of nook limericks and song parodies. :)
Now, I want to be clear that these aren’t all exclusive to Amazon, but this is a good set of features to the service. I may certainly have left something out, but there are also some less measurables for me. I think, at its heart, Amazon loves books and reading. Yes, they sell a lot of other things, and they may also love windshield wipers. ;) But the hardware is a way to get to the books. While they can be socially clumsy (I don’t think they always realize how people will emotionally respond), I think they want to do right by their customers.
I know not everybody feels that way about Amazon, and you may not. Feel free to let me know…and let me know if there is something else about Amazon’s Kindle service I forgot.
If there’s something you like about a different E-Book Reader company better, I’m very interested in that as well. :)
Tip of the Day: you can get to the main Amazon Kindle Community here.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.