Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com

Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com

For quite some time, we’ve had

http://kindle.amazon.com

a site where you can get to the notes that you make on your Kindle online.

That’s been nice: I wrote about it in this previous post.

One of the main things is that it made it easy to get to your notes and paste them into e-mails and such.

Recently, though, there have been changes…big changes.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Agency Model.  😉

Well, at least not directly…it does represent Amazon innovating, presumably trying to create a competitive edge.

One of the things that Amazon does is data…I have to say, they aren’t at the top of the heap in user data retrieval: there are other sites where I find  things easier to..find.  😉

However, they are really good at storing data.

That’s one of the keys to the Kindle: it’s not just a device, it’s a service.  Amazon stores copies of the books you buy from them.  They store your notes and highlights.  Soon, they’ll store your “collections”.

It’s a good service.  They don’t overtly charge you extra for it, but it does tie you to Amazon.  If you go to another EBR (E-Book Reader), you can’t easily bring your notes and such.

Right now, my intuition is that not that many people are using the site.  Some people may be using it extensively, but I’d be surprised if 25% of Kindle owners used it regularly.

However, I’ve already heard from some readers about changes.

It’s tied in part to what is coming in the next software update, 2.5…but that’s only part of it.

First, as I mentioned in this previous post, you can look at popular highlights.   You can also send feedback.

However, this time, let’s log in and go inside.  🙂

The first thing you see is the Daily Refresh.  That’s one of the highlights from one of your books.  You can add a note right from here, you can choose to see all of the highlights from the book, and you can delete the highlight.

Your notes are going to repeat over time, of course, and you can slide the interval at the bottom of the screen.  The intervals are based on the work of Dr. Hermann Ebbinghaus. 

In addition to “Flashcard view”, you can also go to Book View.  In Book View, you’ll see all of your highlights and notes from a single book at time.

There’s one more element I especially want to mention.  I think it’s really nice, but there is a hidden cost.

“Read more at location x”

This is great!  I care very much about which character in a fiction work says what, as those of you reading my series of quotations (The Mind Boggles) at The Measured Circle know.  When you “clip” a section, you don’t always know who said it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you go to that point in the book, and look a bit forwards or backwards to get the context (or read the whole book again, if you want)?

Well, that’s what this new feature does!  It takes you right to the book…cool, right?  It looks great with the white on black option in the Kindle for PC, by the way.

That’s the hidden cost.

It opens in Kindle for PC.  If you don’t have Kindle for PC installed on that computer, it asks you if you want to download it.  You can get out of that option by clicking somewhere else on the screen.  I think it’s a little irritating that in my browser, at least, there is no “X” in that message box: it looks like your only choice is to go to Kindle for PC or download it.

That’s not the hidden cost, though…Kindle for PC is free, right?

Yes, but…downloading a book to a Kindle for PC uses up one of your device licenses

When you “buy a book” from the Kindle store, you are actually purchasing a number of device licenses…the specific number is set by the publisher for each book.  The default is six: if it’s something else, it will tell you on the book’s product page.

What is a device license?  It’s the right to read the book on an individual device.  One specific Kindle, for example…or one installation of Kindle for PC.  If you download a book to a new Kindle for PC installation, you use up a device license.

Now, those are simultaneous device licenses.  If you have six licenses, you can have it on six devices at the same time.  If one of those devices is lost/stolen/broken, you can get that license released.

But it does mean you’ve used up one of the licenses for now.

Six may sound like a lot, but think about the possibilities.  In my family, we currently have two Kindles, an iPhone, and a Kindle for PC installation.  That’s four devices.  Toss in an iPad and another Kindle for PC, and we’d be out.

I think they should warn you about that, but hey, at least I’m warning you, right?  🙂

Now, the next thing is to move off the Daily Refresh.

You’ve got three choices at the top:  Your Books, Your Highlights, Popular Highlights.

You may be used to clicking on Your Books, but I think that view is a bit confusing now.  Why confusing?

There’s now a marker to indicate books that have highlighting, and if you “hover over” it (don’t click on it, but put your mouse over it), you’ll get a “screen tip” that says, Highlights.   Those aren’t your highlights, though, unless the marker is yellow. Otherwise, it’s those “popular highlights”…the ones aggregated from what other Kindle users have highlighted.  If the marker is yellow, it isn’t just yours…it’s yours and popular ones.

They appear in the order they are in the book…yours mixed in with everybody elses.

There also may be a Post-It note looking thing…that’s going to be yellow (apparently, yellow means yours…maybe it’s alliterative), but then, you don’t see other people’s notes anyway.

You can rate the book, and in a new feature, give a status report (“I’ve read it”, “I’m reading it”, “I hope to read it”, “I stopped reading it”, or “Drop from my list”).  I assume if you choose the last one, Amazon is no longer backing up your notes…but it doesn’t say that, either.

That information appears in tabs at the top of the screen.  That’s nice…you can just go to books you are reading, for example.  Hmmm…I notice it marked all those for me itself, except Stopped reading.  The privacy folks won’t like that, I think.   Of course, we already know that it knows if we are in the middle of a book, but still…there’s an emotional difference between noticing and commenting on it.

Huh.  That’s interesting.  It says, in part:

“The list in Your Books includes books from your purchase history, books that you rated, books you told us “I own it”, and books from your wishlist.”

So, I can see popular highlights people have made in books that I only hope to read?  That might entice people to put books on the Wish List (to get a sneak peek that isn’t just the sample), which might lead to more sales when other people look at your list…clever!

I’m sure Amazon will aggregate that data as well…to identify books that people most stop reading, for example.  Publishers would like that information, I’m sure.

Double huh!  🙂  That’s even more fascinating!  At the top of the screen, you can choose All Books, rather than just Kindle books.  That’s right, I can see books I bought in paper…way back.  I’m curious if I’ll see popular highlighting in books that I bought in paper, but other people highlighted in Kindle.  I can’t tell that with a once over.

Okay, and then if you click on the book, you can click that “Please tell the publisher” to let them know you’d like it converted for Kindle!  My intuition is that they may use this to alert us when books are converted at some point in the future.  Yes, people buy books in Kindle that they owned in paper…I’ve done that.

I do find this view somewhat confusing, since my notes are mixed in with everybody else’s.

However, I like it very much when you click Your Highlights at the top of the page (rather than Your Books).  This shows you your highlights (most recent first).  It lets you delete your highlights (that’s kind of nice), and edit your notes.  There wasn’t a choice to delete your note, but I tested simply wiping out an entire note…that worked: the note was gone. 

You can add notes, and you can do that same “Read more” thing I mentioned above…remember that could use up a device license, though.

I do want to mention one other thing.  I’ve had somebody tell me that a book at the site displayed a warning that it couldn’t show the notes, because the clipping limit had been exceeded.

That’s worth discussing.

Books have a clipping limit.  It’s often five to ten percent, and it could be 100%.  You can only clip so much…you can highlight as much as you want, but those can’t be exported. 

I think, in the past, though, that your highlights did appear at kindle.amazon.com.  That may have changed, to prevent export.

The clipping limit is, as I understand it, part of the metadata…set by the publisher.  There may be a default amount that the publisher doesn’t even know about it…not sure about that.

I wouldn’t guess that the popular highlights affect that at all…they shouldn’t, but I could imagine that slipping through the cracks.

So, that’s the new kindle.amazon.com.  It has some useful new features, in my opinion…but I think some that will initially confuse, and that will make some folks uncomfortable.

I suggested Amazon aggregate, and some others have suggested that as well.  Does it make you uncomfortable?  Do you think they are cool?  Feel free to let me know.

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

8 Responses to “Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com”

  1. tuxgirl Says:

    I’d use this an awful lot more if there was a way to opt in to having highlights and notes synced for books not from amazon. No offence intended to Amazon, but other sites have such better options for my PD books,,,,

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxgirl! Always nice to see.. 🙂

      I do understand that one. I’ve gotten books from non-Amazon sources…and duplicated the same free book from Amazon so I could have Amazon store my notes. That seems a bit silly on my part, I suppose. On the other hand, I can see the barriers: they’d have to verify that there were no rights concerns (they know they are okay with things from themselves); they’d have (minor) storage and retrieval expenses; and they’d have those expensive customer service calls from time to time. I don’t think it’s particularly that they don’t want you to go to those other sites: they have a page now promotig them…

  2. tuxgirl Says:

    Oh, on the option to see the quote in context, where is that link? I’m trying to determine whether they actually remove the link for those of us unimportant people using less-common operating systems,,, 🙂

    • bufocalvin Says:

      On the Daily Refresh page (in flashcard mode), it’s right under the quotation itself, before it says, “Your Note”. On Your Highlights, it’s just to my right after the quotation and before “Delete this highlight”.

      Different browsers might render it differently though…but I’ll say it’s reasonably obvious the way I see it. It’s a hyperlink that says,

      “Read more at location location x”

      where x is a location number.

      Do you mind sharing your operating system? I suppose it may not be connected with Kindle for Mac yet, for example.

      • tuxgirl Says:

        I can’t find that link. I’m curious if they’re using my user-agent to determine that they can’t open the app on my machine. I’m viewing the page in chrome on a Debian (Linux) computer. (All of our computers are running variations of Linux except my husband’s work laptop)

  3. Shania Says:

    Bufo:

    You hit the nail on the head when you said “That’s one of the keys to the Kindle: it’s not just a device, it’s a service.” I’ve appreciated this concept for a long time now and think Amazon should market the idea a bit more. I love the Cloud. In fact, I prefer to buy my books from Amazon for this reason, even if I have to pay a few more dollars for a particular book. (I didin’t say $10 more, I said a few.) Yes, I can back up non Amazon books myself and yes, I have Calibre, but I still prefer the Amazon Cloud. And, I have lately been using the Kindle.Amazon.com page and like the improvements and especially the Daily Refresh. It’s a little clunky to navigate the page and find things, (though I can’t exactly say what’s wrong with it) but it gets a little easier each time you use it. It is another innovative service. Thanks for posting this in your blog – I do think more Kindlers need to be aware of it and think of the total package Amazon is putting out there.

  4. Shania Says:

    One more comment, Bufo –

    I am not uncomfortable at all with Amazon keeping track of my information, highlights, books read, reading, stopped, notes, – whatever. I think it is neat to look at what other people are reading, highlighting, etc., and see if it is the same as what I am reading, highlighting. I don’t know who those people are individually, and I just don’t see what the fuss is with the privacy issue – no harm here. I’m awaiting the new update so that I can put quotes on my facebook page for my friends. How cool! (Though I wish it was the actual text and not a link.) Those who aren’t interested in these type of things just don’t have to use them.

  5. Amazon redoes Kindle notes | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com […]

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