Kindle file management I’d like to see

Kindle file management I’d like to see

One of the coolest things about being a Kindleer is that Amazon doesn’t limit the number of devices (both hardware Kindles and reader apps) that we can have registered to our accounts.

If you want to do so, you could get a hundred friends and neighbors (or coworkers, or students, and so on) registered to the same account.

You could all read the same Kindle book…for one licensing fee!

Tech writers often seem to miss this, and when people complain that they can’t share Kindle books, I’m reasonably sure they aren’t aware of this (although sometimes, they may want to lend books to people not on their accounts, which is different from sharing…the latter means equal access).

You can’t usually all read them at the same time, if you have a hundred people. Each title has a number of “simultaneous device licenses”, which is how many device on the account are allowed to have a license for the device (typically, have downloaded it) at the same time. Unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, that number is six. Some titles have fewer licenses; some are unlimited.

We have four people (and more than ten devices) in two time zones on our account.

However, managing all that can get messy.

When you “buy a book” from the Kindle store (you really buy a license), you choose a device to which it should be downloaded first. If you are buying it from your device, it goes to that device. If you are buying it on a computer, it defaults to the first hardware Kindle listed alphabetically.

After that, you can get the title to another device on the account one of two ways.

You can send the book (to one device at a time) by going to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

To do that, you need to know the username and password for the account, or at least be on a computer logged into the account.

The other way is from the device itself. That varies a bit by model. Often, from the homescreen, you use the menu, and choose archives or Cloud. On a Fire, you may see the books in the Carousel, or you may go to Books and tap Cloud.

If you are trying to send a book to a several devices out of, let’s say, ten, that’s clunky.

I do think Amazon is going to considerably improve this, possibly in the next year. They already have Whipsercast for organizations, and I think we’ll get some version of that.

Here’s what I’d like to see.

First, I think there should be three definitions of delivery targets:

  • A person, which could cover multiple devices (“Bufo has KF1, Bufo’s Android, Paperwhite 3″ and so on)
  • A device
  • A group of people and/or devices

A device can be grouped under more than one person.

A person can have more than one device.

A group might be something like “The Kids”, which could include multiple people and/or devices.

Second, each of the categories above can do some of the following (definable at each level):

  • Purchase new books from Amazon
  • See specific books in the archives
  • Download specific books in the archives
  • Delete books from a device or person
  • Delete books from the account
  • Return a purchased book
  • Lend a book (when available) to someone not on the account

Obviously, this would need to be easy to do.

One approach would be to have profiles that you assign to a person/device/group. A “Manager” profile might be able to do all of the above. A “protected user” profile might only get the content specified for it, while a “general user” might be able to download books from the archives, but not buy new ones or delete.

I picture these definitions as being managed at that Manage Your Kindle page, but then showing up when a new device is registered (“Whose device is this?” with a dropdown).

When you bought a book from a computer, you’d get a choice of the people/devices/groups you defined…and whether it should be sent now or not.

I think the default would be however you defined it (“Send to Bufo’s Kindle Fire first”).

Then, in the dropdown, you can select a group that should have access to it in the archives (if that’s within their defined restrictions). A popup would then add, “Would you like to send this book now to all of the selected? If not, do you want to specify recipients for now, or just store it in the Cloud?”

That would all be nice. :)

Amazon certainly isn’t about restricting the number of devices you buy or trying to have you have more than one account…the Kindle FreeTime app shows that.

Once they did have this set up, who would want to move to another company? If you’ve created profiles for one hundred people, you don’t want to have to recreate them if you moved your enterprise (or whatever group it was) to Barnes & Noble.

This is all just a basic proposal: are there are specific powers you think profiles should have? Do you think this is something Amazon will do (or something like it)? How important would it be to you? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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7 Responses to “Kindle file management I’d like to see”

  1. Deb Schmalz Says:

    All of that would be tremendous and very useful. But right now it’s ‘pie-in-the-sky unless we notice Amazon looking to hire more software engineers. Aha! Just think how unimaginable all this would’ve been 5 years ago and you’ ll know I also gave thanks for my Kindles.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deb!

      Well, I presume that the team that just created Whispercast could be involved in some way. I don’t know if those are contractors or employees, but that resource may be there.

      The last five years have been amazing…and I don’t think it’s slowing down much yet. :)

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    First a nit: the default delivery order is e-ink kindles sorted alphabetically followed by KFs sorted alphabetically followed by reading apps. I know this because I tried mightily to make my recently arrived KF89 be first in the list to no avail: my e-ink devices always come first.

    I agree with most of your proposal although I might want to simplify what sub-account users can do. This whole subject is massively complex — especially for schools and enterprises. I’m dubious how much Amazon will actually do. Enterprise IT administration (which is what this is evolving into) is a tar baby of the first water. One you start down this road it’s like being on a treadmill that never stops.

    I just went back and reread the whispercast documentation. For a user in a group, there is a limitation of 2 devices and 2 apps per user. This can work in a school situation, but may be a problem for other scenarios (such as families or hundreds of “friends” on a single account).

    I think there are going to be several issues with the publishers over this. Buying licenses for media in bulk is going to require a license administration facility (nowhere discussed). In addition as I mentioned in a prior post there absolutely is going to have to be some way to remove content from a device once a class has completed. Schools are going to want to load devices for a course (or a student — there’s another little consideration — some schools are going to want/need to dedicate devices to courses rather than students), and then at the end of a school year/semester delete all the content on a device — so the device can be reallocated to new courses/students.

    BYOD is going to create another set of problems with device content management — now you’re going to have content on a device that belongs to multiple entities. Schools/Enterprises are going to want to put time limits (or some kind of content administration — including deleting the school/enterprise’s content from a user’s BYOD device. Publishers, I would think, are going to go ballistic if content bought by an enterprise is loaded onto a BYOD device, and then the user is able to walk away with that content.

    Beyond the issues mentioned above, there is then the whole issue of content management (including account and device collections creation/management) for the user/enterprise/school that owns multiple devices/reader apps (I myself own 4 kindles and have 5 Amazon reader apps).

    So all of this stuff is desirable, but….

    Whispercast looks like a reasonable first cut, but my reading of the listed and planned features sees many holes (some that you could drive a truck through) that schools and enterprises (forget families and clubs for the nonce) are going to insist be addressed. I wonder after all this sinks in for Amazon whether they will really follow through on this.

    I hope they will, but I guess I’m from Missouri on this one :D .

    In a prior post you mentioned that perhaps you would try to sign-up for Whispercast. Did you ever do so? I just went to the sign up page — I saw nothing in their registration form that would prevent me from signing up. They even go so far as to say that if I already have a number of registered devices and apps, they will provide support in getting them whispercasterized — just contact them at or ..

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Actually, the way my devices display on a book’s Amazon product page is different from what you list.

      For me, it goes:

      Hardware Kindles alphabetically
      Reading apps besides on the Fire sorted alphabetically
      Fires sorted alphabetically

      The last two reverse what you were listing.

      This is a place where a Fire isn’t considered to be a “hardware Kindle” as I was using the term, although I didn’t realize they were sorted after the free reading apps.

      It’s quite confusing, though, because sometimes a Fire is considered a hardware Kindle (the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library…KOLL…for example) and sometimes it isn’t (this purchasing order). I know the ship has sailed, but I still wish they had not named the tablet line “Kindle”, which would have solved a lot of problems (but might not have been as good marketing).

      On that Whispercast limitation:

      “Whispercast Users can have a maximum of two Kindle devices plus two free Kindle Reading Apps registered to them in order to receive content via Whispercast. If the User has too many Kindle devices or Kindle applications registered, Whispercast will not deliver Kindle eBooks to them. You will be notified if this is an issue while shopping for eBooks after you click Preview Order. If a User has too many Kindle devices or Kindle applications registered to them, you will see a dialogue box at the top of your order labeled “Your order has been modified”. If you click See Details, you can see any content that was not delivered, the recipients and reason.”

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200894470&qid=1353861906&sr=1-1#network

      I think that’s only a problem in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scenario. This is a limitation per user, not per account. I think if I created an internal user, two apps and two devices is enough for that. An external user, though, might (like you and me) have more than that number of devices already.

      Yes, it’s all complicated, but I do think they’ll get there…and unless eomebody comes up with a migration system, people will be entrenched with Amazon.

      Edited to add: I haven’t tried to set up a Whispercast account yet, but may still do so.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Sorry, WordPress ate my last sentence (better I guess than my dog eating my homework :grin); angle brackets make it think that what follows is HTML. I just wanted to say that Amazon provides an email address and an 800 number you can use to get help from them in whispercasterizing your already-registered devices and apps.

  4. Man in the Middle Says:

    Since we are dreaming, the Middlewife dearly wishes there were a way to organize books by collections in Manage Your Kindle, and when downloading an archived book directly from a Kindle device or Kindle app. Personally, I’d take it a step further, and offer a settable option to automatically preload newly-purchased Kindle books into collections with names matching the categories under which each book is organized by Amazon. Ideally, this would include the idea of nested collections, such as Mysteries within Fiction. The value of this would be that when the Middlewife is ready for a new book, she can browse among those in a single category of interest, rather than having to search a screen at a time through our entire multi-thousand book archive.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      My Significant Other feels the same way about going to the archives/Cloud…just too hard to find anything.

      Before we can have Collections in the Cloud (which I do think will come eventually), we’d be better served by having a person’s devices being recognized as one grouping. I don’t think most of us as individuals want to maintain different Collections on different devices used by the same person.

      The complication right now is that the

      http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

      page doesn’t recognize individuals in that way, or even devices. Two people could easily both have a Collection named “To Be Read” with “contradictory” books in it.

      I’ve though about books automatically falling into their categories, and it would help…although a lot of people would hate it and complain bitterly about it. :) One reason is that publishers set those categories, and they are often counter-intuitive, even self-exclusive. I’ve seen the same book categorized in both fiction and non-fiction, for example…presumably because the publisher thinks it will sell better by reaching a wider market.

      You could use Library of Congress categorization, but many publisher don’t get an ISBN or otherwise get their books officially recognized in a way which would get them categorized.

      I think we’ve barely scratched the surface in organization, that’s for sure. :)

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