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.
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?
Q. How long can my Collection name be?
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?
Note: I have not been able to test 2.5 myself yet. I’ll update this page as necessary, and welcome your feedback.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.