Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Collections edition

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Collections edition

Q. What are Collections?

A. “Collections” is a feature that was added to Kindles with the 2.5 update to provide better organization for Kindle users.

Q. So, if I don’t have the update yet, I don’t have Collections?

A. That’s correct.

Q. How do I know if I have the update?

A. Go to Home-Menu-Settings.  You’ll see your version number at the bottom of the screen.  You can then hit the Back button to go back to Home.

Q. What if I don’t have 2.5 yet?  How do I get it?

A. You can wait until your Kindle updates (you’ll need to have your Whispernet on), or go to the Kindle Software Updates page.  You can follow instructions there to manually install it.

Q. Is there anything I should do before I update it?

A. If you have a “hack”, you need to uninstall it.  You’ll know if you do.  I would always back up your documents folder (and Audible or music if you are using those) before updating a Kindle (and do it regularly).

Q. How do I back up my files?  Is that really necessary?

A. You connect your Kindle to your computer using your included USB cord, and just drag the folders to your computer.  It’s not necessary, but I recommend regularly backing up that folder, especially if you have files that didn’t come from the Kindle store.

Q. Can anybody with a Kindle get the update?

A. Anybody except people with a Kindle 1.

Q. What do I do if the update isn’t working for me?

A. You can call Kindle Customer service: 1-866-321-8851 in the US, 1-206-266-0927 outside it.   You can also contact them through the Amazon website.

Q. Okay, so I’ve gotten the update and I’m ready to start.  I’m still not quite clear, though: are Collections folders?

A. No.  They’ll seem somewhat similar to folders on your homescreen, because you’ll see the name of your Collection and then “open it” to get to the books “inside it”.  However, the biggest difference is that your books are not actually inside the Collection.   The Collection is a display instruction to your Kindle, to show you one line for the Collection in the homescreen rather than each book name.  When you delete a folder from your computer, you delete everything in it.  Deleting a Collection from your Kindle will not delete the books.

Q. Does it put something in the book file to tell it where to go?

A. No, the Collection is separate from your book files.  The Collection is told by you which books to group together for display, but the book file is probably unchanged.

Q. Probably?

A. We’re not supposed to “back engineer” Kindle files and software, so it’s harder to check.  But there is no reason for it to have to do that.

Q. So I create a Collection, and then tell the Kindle which books should be shown when I click on that Collection?

A. Yes, that’s right.

Q. How do I create a collection?

A. Go to Home, then Menu, then you’ll see Create New Collection.  Then, name it using the keyboard and click save.  You’ll see it in your homescreen.  It will also change your sort order to sort so that you’ll first see your Collections in the reverse order that you created them or used them (most recent first), then your books which are not in Collections (most recent first…read or downloaded).  Books which are in Collections will only show in the Collection, not as individual titles.

Q. I like to keep my homescreen sorted alphabetically by title.  Can I do that with Collections?

A. Sort of.  You can switch the sort to any of the pre-existing sorts (Author, Title, Most Recent).  However, the books will then be visible outside of your Collections again. 

Q. So my Collections would be gone from the homescreen?

A. They would show, and you could click on them to see the books in the Collection, but the books would also show outside them.

Q. Hmm…I’d like my Collections at the top sorted alphabetically.  Any trick for that?

A. Yes.  Computers generally sort symbols before letters.  If you name your Collections with, say, an asterisk at the front, they should sort to the top when sorted alphabetically by title.

Q. Are there any forbidden symbols?

A. Unknown at this point.

Q. Can I use spaces?

A. Yes.

Q. How long can my Collection name be?

A. Unknown.

Q. What if I make a mistake naming my Collection?  Can I rename it?

A. Yes.  Go to the Collection in your homescreen and flick right.  You’ll see the option to rename it.

Q. What if I want to delete a Collection?

A. It’s similar to renaming.  Go to the Collection in your homescreen and flick right.

Q. Deleting my Collection won’t delete my books, right?

A. Right.  It’s safe to do.

Q. How do I put the books into the Collections?

A. There are two main ways.  When you first create a Collection, you’ll probably want to put a lot of books into it at once.  Go to Home, go to the Collection, flick right, choose Add/Remove items.  You’ll see all your books.  You can select (or, later on deselect) them by clicking on them.  When you are done, you can click Done, Back, or Home (your choices will be preserved with any of these.

Q. Wait!  So I can do a bunch of books at once?   I’d heard people say it was taking hours to add the books to the Collections.

A. Yes.  It’s possible to add books one at a time, which may make sense after you initially set up the Collections and then download a new title.  You go to the title in the homescreen, flick right, and you’ll see a choice to Add to Collection.  You’ll see your list of Collections, and you can add the title to as many as you want.

Q. I can have the same book in more than one Collection?  Doesn’t that take up more memory? 

A. Remember that the book isn’t actually being moved or copied.  A small instruction is being stored where to group the book when you are sorted by the Collections.  The amount of additional memory is very small.

Q. Why would I want the same book in more than one Collection?

A. You might have a Collection for “books to be read”, another one for “science fiction”, another one for “books I’ve reviewed”, and another one for the author, for example.

Q. That sounds pretty flexible…isn’t that better than folders?

A. It’s a more robust organizational system, yes.

Q. Can I drag the books on to the Collections, like I can do with folders?

A. No.  You can’t drag and drop on E Ink currently. 

Q. Can I put anything in a collection?

A. No.  Just e-books from the Kindle store, audiobooks, and personal documents.

Q. You said from the Kindle store.  I get books from other sources, like ManyBooks, FeedBooks, and Baen.  I can’t put those in a Collection?

A. You can.  Those are considered Personal Documents by your Kindle.

Q. What about subscription items?  I’d like to have a Kindle reference section, and put your books and my I Love Your Kindle blog in there.

A. No, no subscription items.  The most recent issue of each periodical will appear as an entry in your homescreen, like a book.  All of the others will be under one line called Periodicals: Back Issues.

Q. Why is that? I’d like to put my periodicals in collections.

A. My guess is that it is because each issue of a periodical downloads with a different name…with the date added to the end of the issue.  The Collection probably can’t be told to put anything with USA Today in the title into a Collection…it may need the exact title, which changes.  That’s just speculation, though.

Q. What happens to my Collection information?

A. It’s stored in a file on your Kindle, sort of like your MyClippings.txt file.  It’s also backed up for you by Amazon, but remember that can only be done with Whispernet on.  I would keep Whispernet on when you are creating your Collections, or certainly do a Home-Menu-Sync and check for items afterwards.

Q. I have a family member on my account who is going to be much better at this than I am.  Can I just use the system that person created?

A. Yes.  You can go to Home, then Archived Items.  You’ll see a choice to Add Other Device Collections. 

Q. Will that overwrite my collections? 

A. Answer forthcoming.  It appears that it won’t, but I haven’t been able to test it yet.  I’ll update this when I find out more.

Q. Have you heard about any problems with people making Collections?

A. Unfortunately, yes.  I’ve read about a few people having the Kindle reset and the Collections disappear.  I want to stress again to have the Whispernet on when you are creating your Collections, and do a Sync and check for items afterwards.  I’ve also seen a post where someone said that Amazon suggested deregistering and re-registering the Kindle to get the Collections back…I can’t see how that would work without it having synced with Amazon first. 

Q. Where can I get more official information from Amazon?

A. The Kindle User’s guide has been updated and is available here.  The Amazon Help Page is here.

Note: I have not been able to test 2.5 myself yet.  I’ll update this page as necessary, and welcome your feedback.

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. You may also be interested in my Kindle title with the same name.

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

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27 Responses to “Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Collections edition”

  1. W. Avery Says:

    What happened to the “subscription” category that was available on the previous Kindle version? It disappeared on the 2.5 version and you cannot add the subscriptions to a category. It is there as a choice but is darkened. Just wondering if I missed something. I like having all subscriptions in one place, including “I love my Kindle”….

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, W.!

      Are you talking about when you could go to the homescreen, flick up, flick left and choose to just have subscription items shown?

      • Chris Says:

        I noticed that my blogs can’t be put into a collection as well and that would have been a nice feature. I would reckon that they can’t be put in a collection because they would update several times a day for some blogs and there is no way currently to tell the Kindle to automatically move the blog (or anything else) into a specific collection so they would keep getting deposited all by their lonesome on the Home Page.

      • bufocalvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Chris!

        Yes, I’m going to add that into the post…I’ve seen a couple of people asking about it.

        Collections are only for e-books, audiobooks, and personal documents.

        I think your reasoning is correct. When a new edition of the blog is downloaded, my guess is that the date is included in the name. The Collections probably work strictly on name. It’s a bit like when Survivor keeps changing the name of the show based on the location. That confuses Tivos…if the show was just Survivor every time, the Tivo would be fine…as it is, it doesn’t recognize the show as Survivor from season to season.

  2. Chris Says:

    Above you had pointed out where to go to get the new User’s Guide. As of right now you can only install it onto the Kindle (Amazon isn’t storing it in the archives like the other 2). Do you know if Amazon is planning to give us a User’s Guide that will be stored in the archives as well?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Chris, I don’t know, but I would assume that we’ll get an update to the UG (User’s Guide) on our Kindles, just like we have in the past.

  3. PAUL BISHOP Says:

    Hmmm. I’m not really happy with the 2.5 update. Is there a way to get rid of it and go back to the previosu operating version?

    Thanks for all you efforts in your daily blog. Most everything is helpful or interesting.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul, and thanks for the kind words!

      Amazon does not give you a way to uninstall an update and does not make the previous bin files available.

      It might be possible to do that, but you would be going outside the system and modifying the software (which might violate your Terms of Service).

      There would be a risk that Customer Service costs would rise considerably if the agents had to deal with a variety of versions, I would guess.

      What don’t you like about 2.5?

  4. PAUL BISHOP Says:

    There is a couple of things I don’t like. First I’ve got a number of collections, which take up the first home page, so I always have to go to page the second home page to get to the current book I’m reading. The collections should list after your current reading titles.

    Second, organizing the collections is a pain. Once I put a book in a collection, I don’t want to see it again when I’m trying to chose books for another collection. Having to page through 16 pages or more of books and personal documents every time I want to start another collection is silly.

    I like keeping my subscriptions, personal documents, and books separate — as they were before the update. I particularly don’t like my subscriptions on the same page as my collections.

    Overall, I see what Kindle was trying to accomplish, but I don’t think it was particularly successful.

    I love my Kindle and wouldn’t be without it, but this new update has me a bit peeved.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul!

      One of the points you list as a disadvantage seems like a huge advantage to me. I want to be able to put books in more than one category. For example, the same book might be in “science fiction” and “unread”. I’m a database guy…I want more than one category for each book.

      Second, why not make a collection for the current books you are reading? For example, “**current”. When you sort by title, then, that collection will be right at the top.

      I agree with you about the issue with the subscription items…and other people have mentioned that as well.

      • Chris Says:

        What I do is sort by Collection and I created a collection for the book(s) I am reading called “Reading” (original huh?). With it sorted by Collections the Collection I most recently opened sits on top of the Home Page. So if I have played around with another Collection all I have to do is open up the “Reading” Collection and then hit Home and the “Reading” Collection will be sitting on top again. I also have a “To Be Read” Collection that I try to keep right under the “Reading” Collection so I can switch quickly to my next literary conquest.

      • bufocalvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Chris!

        Sure, that sounds good.

        I’m going to approach it a bit differently. I’m have one that says something like **reading, and sort alphabetically by title. The asterisks should keep it sorted at the top.

        Whatever works for you, though. :)

  5. Nicolas Belloni Says:

    I have to say that this post was extremely helpful and clear for me, it was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot.
    (I haven’t had the update long enough to give a proper opinion on it)

  6. Lisa Hill Says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share these tips: I am especially pleased to have found a solution for the problem of alphabeticising the collections I have made.

  7. Admin Says:

    In my kindle 3.0 The Create new Collection is grayed out…

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Admin!

      That’s the second report I’ve had of that recently.

      Have you tried a restart?

      Home-Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart

  8. Mike G Says:

    I thought I had a problem there too with my K3. After I had registered my Kindle the collection feature and a few other nice little things like the ability to set the time of the Kindle manually and add personal information to the top of the Home page were activated. Btw I found that registration was possible without entering any payment information. I just pressed back a few times when I got to that page and the registration was still accepted.
    It would be very nice to be able to do the Collection orgaising on a PC because I do find the process a bit tedious on the Kindle. Does anyone know whether the Kindle reader for the PC would let you do this?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike! Welcome to the Klub!

      You won’t be able to pay for books from the Kindle store without payment information, but you don’t need a credit/debit card registered. You can apply gift cards/certificates to the account instead.

      Collections are currently not available on the Kindle reader apps, like Kindle for PC.

      We were excited when we got Collections, although people do think they could be more robust.

      You can create and populate them pretty quickly now, although the way to do it isn’t always obvious.

      The key thing is to add books into the Collection from the Collection, not from the individual book. You may already be doing this, but just in case and so other people know:

      1. Home-Menu-Create New Collection
      2.Right-click the Collection, Add/Remove Items

      You then just click each item you want added into the Collection. Although all items appear each time (since the same item can appear in more than one Collection…it might be in “To Be Read” and “Science Fiction” at the same time, for example), you don’t need to move through every one every time. Once you’ve added the ones you want, just click Home. You do not need to 5-way to the bottom and click Done for it to be preserved.

  9. Tennis Bum Says:

    I have created a collection and moved a book to the collection…however the book still appears on my Home Page…..how do I get that book title removed from the home page

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tennis!

      If you want the book only to appear in the Collection, and not outside, you need to sort the homescreen by Collections.

      Home-Up (with the 5-way)-Right, select Collections

  10. aa Says:

    this is ridiculous. amazon – please fix this.

    let me manage my 2500 books on my computer, and use proper folders, and not ‘collections’. omfg, it is sooooo frustrating – why amazon why?!?!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!!!!??!

    e.g. simple fix – use the folders on the usb drive, each folder is a folder on the kindle, simple recursive file listing. simple right?!

  11. Kristen Says:

    I’ve made 10 collections before without any problems but I’ve recently bought two new books.. Now I can’t add these two books to any collection also I can add/remove any books already on a collection. I know how to do it but the option isn’t possible… what’s going on?! Help?!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kristen!

      Sorry to hear that!

      The first thing I’d try is a restart:

      Unplug the Kindle from any power sources (wall or USB)

      Home-Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart

      Let it restart on its own…it may take a minute.

      You may need to Sync & Check for Items after that.

      The other thing is if your Kindle has become deregistered somehow.

      Home-Menu-Settiings

      It should say

      deregister

      if it is currently registered. If it doesn’t say that, register it again.

  12. kindo Says:

    You can easily create collections on your kindle with this web utility.
    http://www.accwebworks.com/kindle

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, kindo!

      I took a look at it: I wouldn’t have published your comment if it was an advertisement (I don’t do advertising in the blog). However, I see that you aren’t charging for it, and that is just a set of instructions.

      I am concerned that you suggest people find a way to remove the DRM (Digital Rights Management) without letting them know that is likely to be a crime. It’s also not entirely clear to me that modifying the json file doesn’t violate a customer’s Terms of Service with Amazon, although that is a choice they can make.

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