Archive for August, 2009

What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen

August 31, 2009

What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen

Many Kindle owners become very fond of the devices.  It’s devastating for many to think of their Kindles being lost or stolen, but unfortunately, it does happen. Kindles have a high value on the secondary market (E-Bay, Craig’s List, local newspapers), so there is definitely motivation for thieves.

If it does happen, what should you do?

The first question is whether there is a risk that someone has it that you don’t trust. You may feel different if you left it at a family member’s house than if you left it in a restaurant.

If a “bad guy” could have it, deregister the device. That is what Amazon recommends here:

If your Kindle is lost or stolen, or you transfer ownership to another person, you will need to deregister your Kindle from your account.

While registered, your Kindle can access your account. A user can make purchases using your 1-click settings, which could place significant charges on your credit card. If you have a gift card/certificate balance on your account, your 1-click purchases will first draw from that, before using the credit card.

It’s important to note that the Amazon policy says:

We are not responsible if a Gift Card is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without your permission.

According to the policy, then, if your Kindle is stolen and you have a gift card/certificate balance and purchases are made using that balance, you will be out that money.

If you deregister the Kindle, it can not access the Whispernet (the Kindle’s internet access), and it can not be used for purchases.

If you do not deregister it, the finder can deregister it directly from the Kindle, so you do not protect yourself by leaving it registered.

Maggie Leung, a Kindle forum member, also pointed out that a thief could use a stolen Kindle to get into your e-mail accounts or other websites if your password is stored. This could let them get to confidential information. Deregistering will prevent this.

What else should you do besides deregistering it?

1. Complete a police report. Although a Kindle is likely to be considered petty theft (the typical cut-off is $400: while a Kindle DX costs more than that, it may not be assessed at new value). The police may be able to recover it, and having a police report may help with other steps

2. It’s possible your renter’s/homeowner’s insurance may come into play. Check your deductible: it may be higher than the value of the Kindle. However, if the Kindle was only one of the things stolen, you may have a claim

3. You may want to check the Lost & Found where you were. Some people have reported success with that

4. You do not need to contact Amazon, outside of deregistering the device. If it is recovered, you will be re-registering it with them.  UPDATE: Contact Amazon, and ask them to “blacklist” or “deactivate” the device.  That will prevent it from being re-registered by someone else.  That is something I was able to confirm on May 24, 2010, with Kindle Customer Service (after my own Kindle 2 had been missing for seven weeks).  You can call them at 1-866-321-8851 (international customers use 1-206-266-0927)

Amazon is not an enforcement agency, and will not be the ones going after a thief. They do not have a way to verify your report that it was stolen. You could have sold it to someone else, and then reported it stolen. Another likely scenario is that a thief steals it from Customer A and sells it to innocent Customer B. Amazon can not compromise Customer B’s privacy by giving any information about that person to Customer A.

If you report it to the police, it’s reasonable that Amazon would cooperate with an investigation. In the scenario above, when Customer B went to register it, Amazon could report it to the police (if the police had made such a request). The police might then recover it, and return it to Customer A (after any ownership dispute was resolved). Catching the thief might be more resource-intensive, and Customer B would probably be out both the money and the Kindle.

If your Kindle is recovered and you reregister it, you will still have access to your Kindle store items. If you had personal documents or books from other sources, they will still be on the Kindle unless they were deleted by a thief (who might just do a factory reset).

If you get a new Kindle, you will have access to books you previously bought from the Kindle store (but not back issues of subscriptions). See:

If you buy a new Kindle, and the old one is recovered within thirty days, you can return the new Kindle for a full refund (you need the original packaging and accessories and it needs to be in original condition). The instructions are here:


Be aware that if you have subscriptions going to the device, you may want to change the delivery of future issues to a different Kindle (if you have one on the account).  If you don’t have another Kindle, you may want to just cancel the subscription.  You can do both of those on the Manage Your Kindle page.


There is a service that can reportedly give you an 85% chance of getting back your Kindle.  I think it’s really clever, and I also want to say that they were very responsive when I chatted some questions to them. 

It’s at , and here’s the basic idea.

You pay $12.95 for a label (lower for more than one at a time).  You register it (no additional charge) at trackitback.  The label does not have your identifying information, which can be a good thing.  A finder goes to the website (on the label) and enters a number (on the label).  The finder is guaranteed a reward.  TIB gives them $100 in labels, and you can add your own amount if you choose. 

TIB arranges to pick it up and return it to you…no additional cost!   I can see how it could work very well, and I’ve read success stories and read about it being tested by the media.  I asked TIB if they had a Kindle specific story, and they didn’t have one.  Still, my guess is that it would be effective in the same way it is for laptops, cell phones, and so on.

There are a couple of negatives:

  • If you sold your Kindle, you might have some trouble removing the sticker.  I asked them about that, and they said it was possible…but clearly not easy.  Of course, the purchaser wouldn’t get personal information about you
  • You’d have to cut a hole in your “skin”, if you are using one, so the sticker showed.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t work very well.

My opinion?  It’s probably worth the $12.95, especially if you keep valuable personal documents on your Kindle.  It might discourage a thief (since it might make it harder to sell).  I would still deregister the device if it is missing.  If someone doesn’t deliberately delete your personal documents, you’ll probably get them back if the Kindle is returned to you, and you can re-register it to get access to your previous Kindle store book purchases.

Have you used trackitback?  If so, I’d be interested in any comments you might have.

One last thing: there have been quite a few threads about stolen or lost Kindles in the Amazon forum.  One of them was called,

Don’t let anyone steal your Kindle

My first thought was, “Good plan…”  🙂

Related news article: 

(Parts of this post originally appeared in my Amazon Author Central blog)

Just for full disclosure: after I wrote this post, TrackItBack did send me some stickers for free.  That did not influence anything I wrote here…I didn’t know they were going to do that.

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


All’s Well That Orwells

August 31, 2009

All’s Well That Orwells

Recently, there was quite a newsflap when Amazon removed a George Orwell title from customers’ Kindles without asking them first.  The publisher, MobileReference, has reportedly claimed that the book was only intended for the Australian market (where the included material would be in the public domain), and that Amazon put it in the Kindle store (which sells in the US market, where rights clearance would be required), contradicting MobileReference’s intent.  While  much has been written about it, and I think there is more to come, I thought I’d go for a little lighter piece. 

So, in honor of the Australian connection, All’s Well That Orwells is sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.  🙂


Once a jolly Kindler downloaded some George Orwell
A-wanting to read Ninety Eighty-four
With a 1-click (a slick trick) he started reading right
“I’ll take a break then later I’ll read more”

“Whispernet brought it, Whispernet brought it
Whispernet brought my George Orwell to me”
So he sang as he watched and waited for his Emily
“Whispernet brought my George Owell to me!”

Next morn he woke up: then he woke his Kindle up
Checked for new items and what did he see?
Gone was Big Brother, though he flipped through ev’ry page
“Whispernet took my George Orwell from me!”

“Whispernet took it, Whispernet took it
Whisperment took my George Orwell from me!”
Gone was Big Brother, though he flipped through ev’ry page
“Whispernet took my George Orwell from me!”

Up jumped the bloggers, writing on the internet
Out came a lawsuit, one, two, three
“Where is my Big Brother?
You took away my homework notes!”
“Whispernet took my George Orwell from me!”

“Whispernet took it, Whispernet took it
Whisperment took my George Orwell from me!”
Gone was Big Brother, though they flipped through ev’ry
“Whispernet took my George Orwell from me!”

Jeff Bezos posted, “We will not do that anymore…
“We have behaved pretty stupidly”
Though the books were illegal and people got a full refund
Whispernet still took George Orwell away

Whispernet took it, Whispernet took it
Whispernet still took George Orwell away
Of all of the books for Amazon to disappear
Whispernet still took George Orwell away
Oh, Whispernet still took George Orwell away

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

What’s the 411?

August 30, 2009

What’s the 411?

This is a weird thing, but I’ve had people report it works (at least temporarily).

Your Kindle 2 (I don’t know about the DX, but it doesn’t work this way on the K1) has some information screens about your Whispernet (the Kindle’s wireless internet) connection.  If you don’t have a connection, it appears that following this sequence may force one:


Have the Whispernet on


Type 411: wait until you get information


Type 611: wait until you get information


Try connecting again


I had someone do that once to diagnose the lack of connectivity, and they were able to connect!  I’ve had other people try it, and had some people tell me it worked. 

Obviously, it won’t work if there just isn’t Whispernet available.  What I’m guessing is that some people may have intermittent connection in their area.  Doing the diagnostic makes it see if there enough signal at that time, and to make the connection if there is. 

I haven’t been able to test it myself (except to see the diagnostic screens), since I have a good Whispernet connection where I am.

Oh, one other interesting thing: the 611 screen will give you a latitude and longitude.  I think if you put that into Google, you’ll get the location of the cell tower your Kindle is using.  🙂 

If you don’t have connection, give the above technique a try and tell me if it does or doesn’t work for you…

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

What a Kindle is…and isn’t

August 29, 2009

What a Kindle is…and isn’t

“What’s that?”

Have you ever been reading your Kindle in public and gotten that question?

I used to get that quite a bit, although now it’s more likely to be, “Is that a Kindle?” or “Do you like your Kindle?”

It does still happen, though.  If I say “It’s a Kindle,” and I still get a blank look, my canned answer is “It’s an electronic book reader.”

That’s not really all it is, though.  I see quite a few questions that indicate confusion about the Kindle and its relationship to both the reader and Amazon.

For people who don’t own a Kindle, they often aren’t sure about how books get on there, and sometimes, even if you have more than one book.  Some people seem to think you buy it with books on there, and that’s it.

I also see questions from people who are worried about running out of space on the Kindle for all the books they want to get in the future.

Others  worry about what would happen if their Kindles were lost, stolen, or broken: would they lose all those books they paid Amazon to get?

Of course, there are also people who want it to work like a laptop: display animation, enter into spreadsheets, that sort of thing.

So, what is a Kindle?  Is it a book?  Is it a library?  Is it a computer?

In this first part, I’m going to only talk about your Kindle, books you buy from the Kindle store, and Amazon.  In other posts, I’ll discuss other items from Amazon and items from other sources.    For simplicity’s sake, I’m also going to largely omit the iPhone and the iPod touch from this post.

Is the Kindle a Book?

It certainly seems like a book.  When you are reading War and Peace (again?  I am impressed 🙂 ), the Kindle is what you are holding in your hands and where the words appear.   In the old days, that would definitely have been called a book.

However, it’s a bit different with the Kindle.  When you get a book from the Kindle store, you are getting a license to read that book.  You get a file from Amazon (either wirelessly directly to the Kindle, or by downloading it to your computer and transferring it).   The Kindle then displays the book to you.

What you bought, though, isn’t that file.  If that file happens to be corrupted, or you delete it accidentally, you can just download it again to that Kindle, as many times as you want.

That wasn’t true with paperbooks (or p-books, as I prefer to call them).  What you got there was a copy of the book.  You could do what you wanted with it (sell it, tear the pages out), but if that copy was lost, damaged, or destroyed, the publisher wouldn’t replace it for you.

That license says you get to read it on that specific Kindle.  Typically, you get six “device licenses” for one purchase price (although the actual number of licenses is up to the publisher) for a book you get from the Kindle store.   Each file you get is keyed for one specific device (Kindle, iPhone, iPod touch), but you most commonly can get files keyed for up to six different devices.   That’s also six devices simultaneously.  If you had registered six devices as having licenses for a file, and then had to replace one of them, you could deregister the old device to release that license.  Amazon discusses that here:

The Kindle isn’t a book.  It is a device that displays copies of books.

Is the Kindle a library?

Amazon makes a point about how many books you can put on your Kindle.  Of course, that is really an estimate of the number of the book files you could put on your Kindle, based on an average file size.

Amazon even says on the product pages

“Now you can always have your entire library with you.”

This is how Amazon breaks it down:

Kindle | 200 books | 180 megabytes for the user

Kindle 2 | 1500 books | 1.4 gigabytes for the user

Kindle DX | 3500 books | 3.3 gigabytes for the user

(A gigabyte is about 1000 megabytes, so you could read those as about 1400 megabytes and about 3300 megabytes)

Those numbers are all approximate, but they give you an idea.  Amazon figures about .9 megs (about 900 kilobytes) average per book.

Since Amazon says you carry your entire library, does that mean you only own 200 books at a time with a Kindle 1?  Not at all!  That’s how many books you can have on the Kindle at a time: you could have tens of thousands more in your Amazon archives.

When you buy a Kindle from Amazon, you don’t just get the device: you get a service.  The service includes keeping your book purchases from the Kindle store for you where you can easily retrieve them.  One of Amazon’s businesses is data storage, and they are letting Kindle owners use it.  That’s great!  You don’t need to have more books on your Kindle than the ones you want to be able to access right away.

I have a floor to ceiling library of p-books (paperbooks) in my house.  It holds thousands of titles.  Before the Kindle, when I would go out, I’d take a couple of books with me (I didn’t want to have the horror of finishing a book on an errand and not having another book with me).  I didn’t carry thousands of books with me, and wouldn’t have wanted to do that, usually.  Hey, I have friends who have jokingly said they will never help us move again, because of all the boxes of books.

The equivalent of that library isn’t the Kindle, it’s my archives at Amazon.  The Kindle is more like my backpack or briefcase or suitcase: it’s where you carry the books you want to have with you on this trip.   I do carry more books in my Kindle than I would in a suitcase, but that’s partially because I like to have some reference books with me.

If I want a book that’s in my archives and I’m on the road, how hard is it to get it?  On the Kindle 2, I’ve been able to demonstrate getting a book from the archives, putting it on the Kindle, and putting it back in the archives…all in less than a minute.  That assumes you have Whispernet (the Kindle’s wireless internet connection), which I have had pretty much everywhere I’ve gone (and there’s not charge for using it this way).   If not, you transfer from a computer to your Kindle’s documents folder using the USB cord that comes with it.  If you were on vacation and had internet access in your hotel room, you could put ten books on there every morning if you wanted.

So, the Kindle isn’t a library: the archives are the library.

Is the Kindle a Computer?

Well, a computer manipulates data and displays the result.   The Kindle definitely does that:  it takes the book file and displays the document (including a header).  It calculates the location (and the percentage on the K2 and KDX), and shows you the time, takes you to Fandango, and more.

However, one common part of the definition of a computer is that it should be programmable.  A Kindle isn’t really (supposed to be) programmable by the owner.  Amazon can program it: that’s basically what they do when they send it an update.   It isn’t really a programmable computer for the consumer.

“A Kindle?  What’s that?”

So, next time I get asked that, I guess I could answer:

“It’s a computerized device that displays book files for which I have a license, provides access to my library, lets me do limited web-browsing, and…”

You know what?  I’m going to stick with “electronic book reader“.  😉

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

Oh…um, Hi!

August 28, 2009

Oh…um, Hi!

Welcome to Bufo Calvin’s I Love My Kindle  blog! 

I…er…um, haven’t really started yet.  This is just in case you snuck in early, maybe having heard it on The Kindle Chronicles.  I’ll come back and do more with this later.

Okay, here’s a little more.  🙂  I’m the author of several titles in the Kindle store, available for the Amazon Kindle (and iPhones and iPod Touches that have downloaded the necessary “app”).  

I’ve also been very active in the Amazon Kindle community, especially in Amazon’s forums ( 

This is my first blog, although I was sending out an internet newsletter back in 1996.  My goal here to provide useful and fun postings about the Kindle and the world of the Kindle.  I plan to post fairly often: some will be “off the cuff”, but I also hope to have reference information and fiction of more lasting value, and pieces which have been more carefully crafted.  

Feel free to let me know what you’d like to see. ..I’ll take that into account.

Here are some things I’m thinking about doing:

  • Tips and tricks
  • Frequently Asked Kindle Questions
  • Humor and parodies
  • Links to other resources
  • Some listings/reviews of Kindle books and other items

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

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