I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!


I recently wrote about a

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

The Kindle Paperwhite I use is an older generation, and wasn’t eligible for this update.

My Significant Other had a 6th generation Kindle Paperwhite which was eligible.

My SO hadn’t used it in some time. I think unexpectedly, my SO now reads on a now discontinue Kindle Fire HDX…which is also a daily device of mine (and one I like very much).

So, I found it, charged it up, went to

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

double-checked that I was getting the right download version for the device, and manually updadoted it (following Amazon’s directions precisely…I generally do that, in part to test how clear their directions are for other people).

It went through the update process, but then…

Just as it would be going to the homescreen (that’s one of the big changes), I got an “Application Error” message box, that told me

“The selected application could not be started. Please try again.”

All I had was a blank screen…still illuminated, but blank.

I restarted  it.

Same thing.

I downloaded the file again from Amazon, went back through the install process.

Same thing.

I couldn’t do anything with it except use the power button to restart it, or put it into USB mode by plugging it into my computer.

Now, I often say how I generally find Amazon’s Kindle Support to be friendly and helpful, and that has been the case.

I went to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

That worked in its normal satisfying fashion: my phone rang in seconds, and I was speaking to a person within a minute.

Well, I was with that person on the phone for close to an hour.

While it isn’t my primary job responsibility, I do phone tech support at work. I do think I know something about it, both as a user of phone tech support and to a small extent, as a provider of it.

Generally, Amazon is very, very good on this.

In this case, it could have been improved. They tell us that these calls could be recorded for training purposes. I honestly hope this is one of them.

It’s not just that the problem couldn’t get fixed…hey, sometimes, things are really broken.

It’s that the representative kept forgetting what my actual situation was.

More than once, the rep asked me to go to the settings menu…when I repeatedly responded that I couldn’t get to the menus at all, since all I had was a blank screen (no amount of swiping or restarting would change that).

I was asked if my wi-fi was on: I said I assumed it was. I was asked to verify it: I had to say (again) that I couldn’t get into anything that would enable me to check it.

The person with whom I was speaking was in what was probably a group chat, asking other Amazon employees questions. I have no problem with that: I do that myself. We can’t all know it all, and it’s great sometimes to have shared wisdom on a perhaps unusual circumstance (I’m sure many people have update sixth generation Paperwhites with no problem.

One creative solution was to rename the downloaded “bin” file, which is the update.

Unfortunately, that didn’t fix it, but it was a nice try.

I was asked if I had modified this Paperwhite: nope, this one is for my Significant Other, and I really, really don’t mess with those. I want unmodified ones precisely so I can have the typical user experience in situations like this.

Finally, after more than 45 minutes, I was transferred to someone who was actually an expert in this.

Within ten minutes, the verdict was, yes, it was broken. 🙂

I was out of warranty…so they offered me a discount on the purchase of a future device.

How much of a discount?

It seemed like $10 or $15, depending on the price of the device…and that they would send me an e-mail with the information.

I haven’t gotten an e-mail, as far as I can tell (I checked my spam folder, besides my inbox).

I’ve never had that happen from Amazon before, either…where they said I would get an e-mail, and I didn’t.

My Significant Other came home while I was on the second call, and could tell I was frustrated.

I almost never get frustrated, so that was a bit shocking. 🙂

I think I was still civil, although I was probably shorter with the second person than I should have been.

Bottom line: I do think I probably did as instructed by Amazon, and I do think it made the device unable to perform. Amazon could have, I think, handled my Customer Service experience better…and that is very atypical of my experiences with them in the past. I’m guessing (hoping?) it was just a fluke.

I’m letting you know, in part to say that perhaps manually updating your sixth generation Paperwhite may not be advised.

One additional point, and this is interesting.

I was getting the Special Offers “screensaver” before it would go to a blank screen when I swipe. Yes, I know, I know…the only thing working on the Paperwhite was the ad. 😉

However, it occurred to me that maybe I would bypass the broken application if I had it go to the offer instead.

I tried that this morning…and it worked!

From there, I could try getting to settings (not that I can do much there now), but that is only the store settings.

There was a “Home” button I could reach though…and I tapped it.

It took me to a “slideshow” about my update!

Hey, I just got through the slideshow…and I’m on the new homescreen!

I tested to see if that would persist by restarting it…and it failed with the same white screen and error message.

When I toggled the device on and off (using the power button), I got the Special Offers screen again…and by going through that special deal, I once again was able to get to the Homescreen!

I’ll let Amazon know about this “back door” method. That doesn’t fix the Paperwhite, but at least it is usable again.

I also want to mention that I did try downloading the other generation Paperwhite updates…and in each case, it correctly identified them with messages that they were the incorrect versions, so I know I had the right one initially…I was confident in that, but I wanted to test.

Hm…it is quite slow, so since I now have access to the menus, I’m trying to reset it to factory defaults to see what happens.

Okay, having gone through the reset, it does seem to work, and it tells me it is at the current version (5.7.2). I do have the new homescreen experience. One more test: I’ll restart it and see if it gives me that blank screen…

Well! So far, it all seems to work! I need to test it more, but virtual fingers crossed. Oh, and I did just put a passcode on it to test to see if that feature might have been what was broken, but that also worked.

I’ll contact Amazon directly and know about this…I will also offer them their discount back…presuming I actually get it. 😉 I now feel great that I solved the problem! Not great about the Customer Service call, but it’s hard to keep an optimist down for long. 😉

Bonus deals:


Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

includes ten books in the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters by $1.99 each. A number of these are also available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Another deal, no doubt related to St. Valentine’s Day (although it goes through March 3rd) is

99 Romances for $0.99 each (at AmazonSmile*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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.


17 Responses to “I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!”

  1. Tuxy Says:

    Interesting. I had no problems updating my 6th gen paperwhite manually… But, I have regularly had *tons* of issues with kindle cs. In my experience, they are really good for the simple issues, but once your issue is something outside the ordinary, they are not that great. Unfortunately for my opinion of them, I can handle the simple stuff myself the vast majority of the time, so I end up only contacting them for the complicated stuff.

    One fact to that may contribute to my experience is that I honestly don’t like dealing with people on the phone, so I use chat.

    On a recent issue I was having with a fire, I was transferred between 11 different cs reps. There were a couple times that I got transferred without them asking whether I was okay with being transferred, and when I got to the new person, I had to explain to them that I knew that they were not the correct department, and that I needed to be sent back to the right place. (Really… If I’m calling about an issue with the storage on my kindle, and I mention that I have no music downloaded, then sending me to the amazon music team is probably not a good idea).

    It has gotten to the point that if I text one of my friends the phrase “hot potato”, she asks what’s wrong with my kindle, because she understands that I’m referring to getting passed around like a hot potato by kindle cs.

    I guess next time, I may have to just do the phone support. 😦

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxy!

      11! I’ve never had more than two. I really don’t think I get special treatment as a blogger…but perhaps that is possible. That would make me unhappy…

  2. Kathryn Says:

    I had a very similar poor experience with Amazon customer service. The same issue with the rep not listening to what I said and just giving scripted answers. When I asked for a supervisor I was placed on hold for 50 minutes. The issue was finally resolved. When I received an email regarding my CS experience, I responded with a strongly negative response.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kathryn!

      Perhaps I’ve been naive in my assessment of Amazon Customer Service, although they are routinely very highly rated in surveys…

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I would say that your experience with Amazon customer service on this issue was typical of the experiences I’ve had with Amazon customer service on all issues. I think they read from a script which would explain why he person to whom you spoke kept telling you to do things you couldn’t do. They lack the technical knowledge to provide advice that’s not part of the script. That’s not a criticism of those folks. They are generalists, not specialists. They have to know a little about a lot. You needed somebody who knew a lot about a little.

    Perhaps in the past all your problems were ones for which there was a script. This is what happens when the problem isn’t scripted. That’s why I did not ask for phone support with my reason for not wanting to update my K3’s. I knew I would end up even more frustrated than I already was.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I think, perhaps, it may also have to do with the times I tend to call. I’ve generally tried to call during business hours in Seattle, but I didn’t do that this time…

  4. Elaine Jordan Says:

    My paperwhite broke during the update too……gave me repair code 2, wouldn’t get me as far as yours, I tried everything. Ended up getting a new one, am very very disappointed in.Amazon, almost like they knew this was going to happen and had the kindles on.”sale”….did get a slight discount but very very disappointed in Amazon period lately

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I mentioned on a prior post that in upgrading my 7th gen PW (PW3 to me), I had erroneously copied the 6th gen bin to my PW3. The PW3 correctly detected the wrong bin sitting in root, and deleted it.

    Once updated to 7th gen, the Pw3 has been working fine.

    I’ve had the PW3 for about 4-5 months now. One thing I’ve noticed is that about once a month while reading a book (it just happened about an hour ago), it will refuse to turn the page (it is in fact completely hung). Holding the power button for 30 seconds starts a cold boot, which takes me back to the formerly hung page, but now all is well. I think I saw the same behavior on the PW2, but the frequency was only every 3 months or so.

    A while back I had occasion to contact customer support, and as you say getting to a real human is incredibly quick.

    My problem was I had bought a book, and told it to deliver it to my device — only it wasn’t there. I went to the Manage My Content page, and the book was there, asking the MMC to deliver the book to my device resulted in an indication that it had been delivered — only it still wasn’t there.

    That is the point at which I called CS. They had me repeat everything I had told them I had already done, and some other things. They were obviously working from a script, and seemed oblivious to my comments back to them. At some point on my own I did a cold start, and the book was there. When I told CS the book was now there, they nevertheless had me run through 15 minutes more of scripted stuff before they would believe me that all was well.

    Running from a script is probably the best way for CS to proceed, but their inability to deviate from the script when results are outside the script boundaries leaves something to be desired.

    I had an issue with my KDX where the screen went wonky. It was years out of warranty. They offered me a refurbished one for like $50. They sent it immediately — I had it two days later with a prepaid mailer to send the broken one back to them. Transferring the old KDX content to the new was seamless (only the screen was broken — PC via USB could still see content). Now THAT’s customer service!

  6. Marjorie Says:

    I have never had any luck with getting technical support from Amazon customer service. I usually get better information from the Amazon forums or google.com.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Marjorie!

      Be very careful about doing a Google search for technical support! I’ve seen many anecdotes from people with negative consequences from that…either with a trashed device, or being billed for technical service.

      I will continue to use Amazon’s Kindle Support as one of my sources. This seemed like a fluke, but if it isn’t, I’d rather have Amazon trying to fix the problem for me than someone in the forums or online…hard to get a remedy from them.

  7. Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] a near disastrous update to our sixth generation Kindle Paperwhite, I was able to get the new software version working. This […]

  8. B. T. Jaybush Says:

    Reblogged this on Brain Waves.

  9. Dean Says:

    Same happened to me although my kindle auto updated and bricked itself. Obviously it would have to be after the warranty expired. Offered the same crap discount. My solution was to buy a kobo and use calibre and de drm to strip and convert my kindle books to epubs. I miss the old days when the worst that could happen to your book is that you would fall asleep in the bath reading it and soak the pages. Now you have to make sure that amazon’s glitchy software isn’t killing your entire library.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dean!

      Well, there were worse things that can happen…a neighbor’s house burned down when I was a kid, for example. E-books have saved my “collections” more than they’ve cost them (since my Kindle books, at least, are stored centrally and can jut be downloaded again…even for free to apps). However, I agree: I’d love it if Amazon’s Kindle software was more robust.

      I personally would not be comfortable stripping the DRM from books under copyright protection, unless it falls into the (quite narrow) exceptions listed by the Copyright Office…

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