Understanding Cloud Collections
Amazon has recently updated both the current generation of Kindle Fires (the Kindle HDX models and the new Kindle HD, the $139 model) and the Kindle Paperwhite (second generation) to include a feature called Cloud Collections (it may be coming to other models as well.
First, I’m going to go over what Collections are, and then explain how this works. There has been quite a bit of confusion about it, and some disappointed people. As to the latter point, I think in some ways it is again an example of Amazon not naming something clearly…I do see that as one of Amazon’s few serious deficits. Naming the tablet (Fire) line “Kindles” caused a lot of problems in the beginning, with people wondering why the new “Kindles” were hard to read outside in bright light, or talking about “upgrading” from a Kindle 3 to a Kindle Fire (when they really aren’t the same type of device serving the same purpose). They’ve notoriously named several things just a “Kindle”, from the 2007 model to the current entry level one (which I call a “Mindle”).
Collections are organizational structures for your content. They are not like folders on a PC or a Mac, because they do not actually contain the files. You simply “tag” the files as belonging to a certain classification, and then you can locate the files by looking at that classification.
Deleting the classification (Collection) does not delete the files which are associated with it.
If you think of a file folder with papers in it, and you through out the folder, you would also throw out the papers…that’s how a folder on a PC works.
Think of a Collection as a listing. You have a list of books you’ve read this year on your computer (maybe in an Excel file). If you delete the Excel file, you don’t delete the books. The difference is that the Collection has a link that enables you to open the book, but it is really just a link. Getting rid of the link does not get rid of the book.
Until these updates, we created Collections on a single device, and that Collection only applied to that device. I could have a “To Be Read” Collection on my Kindle, and my Significant Other could have a “To Be Read” Collection on theirs, and there was no confusion.
We could, however, import Collections from one device to another. When we did that, we copied the classification structure from Kindle A to Kindle B.
Again, it didn’t move any of the actual content…just the instructions for which lists should have it.
That’s still the way it works on devices without Cloud Collections. On my Mindle, I do
Home – Menu – View Archived Items (called “the Cloud” on some devices) – Add Other Device Collections
Then, if I was connected to wi-fi, it would show me devices which had Collections. That includes devices which have been deregistered. It does include a Kindle for PC installation. I could choose to add Collections from a particular device, but I didn’t get a choice as to which Collections would be added.
If I had e-books on my device which were already in a Collection as defined by that other device, they would be added to the Collection on this device.
Let’s say I’m working with Kindle A.
I import the Collections from Kindle B.
Alice in Wonderland was in a Collection (“Classics”, perhaps) on Kindle B, and the Alice i Wonderland e-b0ok is on Kindle A.
Alice in Wonderland would now be in the Classics Collection on Kindle A.
Note that you had to have the e-books on your device before importing the Collections for this to work.
That’s the way it used to be.
I don’t think a lot of people found that to be convenient.
What people wanted was for the books in their archives/Cloud to be in Collections…so they could choose a book to read more easily, for one thing, without it being stored on their device.
That’s one reason people kept thousands of books on the device (as opposed to in the Cloud/archives). There was no organization in the Cloud/archives.
I usually only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices…so I don’t use Collections that much.
I generally remember what the books are called, and what they are about. That may have some connection to my having been a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I think it’s just sort of how my brain works. :)
Now, we have Cloud Collections, and those are very different.
Here’s the key thing first: even though they are called “Cloud Collections”, they do not show at
That may change at some point, but they aren’t there now.
What happens is that you can now see all of the Collections from any of your devices on each of your devices. On my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers, I see Collections that I’ve created on other devices…even deregistered devices.
I can add titles to those Collections from the Fire…and if I do, they will also show on my new Kindle Paperwhite.
Cloud Collections do not belong to any individual device: they belong to all of the devices.
As soon as I added a Collection on my Fire, it appeared on the Paperwhite. I had both of them connected via wi-fi, of course.
If I delete a Cloud Collection on one device, it is deleted on all of the devices (they do warn you about that). Again, it does not delete the files.
Rename it on one device, and it is renamed on all of the devices.
Initially, this may have caused some embarrassment. One of the parents might have had a Collection called, “Guilty Pleasures”, or “Don’t Show the Kids”, and those Collections (along with links to their content) would appear on the child’s device (if it has Cloud Collections).
If you’ve had lot of devices, like we have had, you might get a lot of Collections…I got 18 of them, and again, I haven’t even used Collections much at all.
Certainly, I can see real advantages to this. We could have a Collection called, “Bufo’s Weird Stuff”, and my SO would probably never look at it. ;) We could have a Collection called, “Bufo’s To Be Read”, and it wouldn’t matter on which device I accessed Collections, I could find it.
Now, let’s talk about how you work with the Collections. I’ll start out with on the Fire.
Go to the Books tab. Tap the menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner). Tap Collections.
Now, you’ll see all of your Collections from all of your devices, in alphabetical order. You’ll see thumbnails of some of the titles in the Collection (only four will fit).
Tap the Collection, and it will come to the foreground. You may need to scroll to see everything.
Tap the title to read it. If it isn’t on your device yet, it will download to it.
If you want to add titles to the Collection, there is an Add button. You’ll be able to add not just from the e-books already on the device, but from the books in your Cloud (listed alphabetically). That’s thousands of books, in my case, and I didn’t see anyway to search or change the sort order. You can remove a book from a Collection by “long pressing” it (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second), and then you’ll get a Remove button. It appeared to me that you did those one at a time.
Note that you can also remove a book by dragging it out of the Collection. I found that out first when I tested dragging a book from one Collection to another, which does not work…it removes the title instead.
You can rename the Collection by long pressing the name of it when it is in the foreground.
When a Collection is not in the foreground (when you are seeing all of them), you can long press it and add it to Home (just on this device, I presume), or delete the Collection (from all devices).
Adding it to Home makes sense. Here’s a cool tip: you can also drag one item in your Home (not in your Carousel…down at the bottom) on top of another item, and it instantly creates a Collection.
On the Fire, you can also create Collections for apps. You can not mix content types: you can not put an App into a Collection for e-books.
On the Paperwhite, it’s a bit different. You don’t have a Books tab: the Collections appear right on your Homescreen. Tap the Collection, and it opens, similar to what happens on the Fire.
Long press it, and you can Add/Remove Items, Rename This Collection, or Delete This Collection.
Those are the main workflows. :)
Again, I can see some real value to this, but Amazon didn’t explain it very well. Many people would have preferred having the option as to which Collections showed up: although it isn’t hard to rename or delete them, so the “Manager” of the account (perhaps an adult) should deal with it on their own device first, if possible (but you can’t control when another device will update over wireless).
I tested using Parental Controls to turn off access to the Cloud (Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options) on the Paperwhite. The Collections were still displayed, but Cloud items did not show “inside” them.
I also did a quick test with Kindle Freetime on the Paperwhite: with that on, even the names of the Cloud Collections did not show (they did not show at all).
Here is the Amazon Help Page for the HDX (they don’t appear to have the Paperwhite one up yet):
Cloud Collections are also available on the iOS apps (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch).
That Help Page also has this, and it’s not clear to me:
“Import a collection: With Cloud Collections, collections are automatically stored in the Cloud and can be synced between Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX, and Kindle for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch reading apps.
Note: Importing collections from other devices or reading apps to Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX, and Kindle for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is currently limited to the first time you register the device or reading app.”
I’m not sure what they mean by that one. When you first register a device or reading app, how can it have any Collections? I’ll see if I can find out more about that.
If you have any questions about this, or opinions about it, 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. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.