Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition
Q. Amazon really wants me to update my Kindle! I’ve gotten e-mails, a postcard through the mail, even a phone call. I’ve had my Kindle for more than five years, and there have been a bunch of updates, but they’ve never done this before. What’s up?
A. This is a different kind of an update. Updates in the past have generally either been “bug fixes”, where you don’t really see a change but things work better, or they bring new features, like Cloud Collections or the Family Library. In some cases, features have gone away on the Kindle with an update, but what’s happening here is that something external is changing and your Kindle needs to be up to date to work with it. If your Kindle isn’t up to date, it’s not going to be able to connect wirelessly with Amazon. That means you won’t be able to shop from your Kindle itself, or download books from it that you’ve already bought on your account. Amazon doesn’t want to deal with upset customers who wake up in the morning, try to get something perhaps for a morning commute or worse, for a vacation, and not be able to connect without knowing why. That’s bad for the relationship between Amazon and the customer, and it’s expensive to have them call Customer Service to get it fixed.
Q. Why is Amazon changing that connection thing? Is it just to make me buy a new Kindle? I’ve heard it’s so that I have to see ads and recommendations on my homescreen…I like things the way they are.
A. Amazon isn’t the one changing it. They just need to make sure their devices can use an internet protocol which is changing. While they would probably be happy if you bought a new Kindle and if you saw their recommendations, this change doesn’t mean you have to do it either. The vast majority of devices are probably already updated. When your device connects to Amazon’s servers, it generally automatically updates. Even if you have an older device, it’s likely to have updated to a compatible version some time ago. If it hasn’t, turn on the wireless and it should update, although that doesn’t necessarily happen right away (it can sometimes be days, but that’s usually when they are rolling out a new release, not the case this time). You can also download the update to your computer and transfer it to your device using a USB cable. You can see all the information about it here: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) including a link to get the software to update it. In terms of the ads and recommendations, it’s important to note that there isn’t simply an update that makes your Kindle compatible: you are updating the newest version of the operating system, and on some devices, that does come with a new homescreen view. The view has covers and “reading lists”. However, although it’s a bit buried, you can go back to the style that just has the book listings without the covers: Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists.
Q. So, does the new update give me those Special Offers I hear about?
A. No, there’s no connection with that. If you aren’t subscribed to Special Offers, you still won’t be. If you are subscribed you still will be.
Q. What happens if I don’t update? Is my Kindle a brick?
A. No. You can still use it. You just won’t be able to connect to Amazon wirelessly with it. It’s possible to download books, either new purchases or from your Archive/Cloud, to your computer and transfer via USB cable. However, your Kindle will presumably not be able to get future updates.
Q. Does the update cost anything?
A. No. Like all Kindle updates so far, it’s free.
Q. I bought the Kindle and I bought the books. How can Amazon take them away from me? Don’t I own them?
A. Yes, you own the device and you bought licenses for the books. This doesn’t impact the books: you could read them on other devices on your account which have been updated, or in free Kindle reading apps. Your device will continue to do what it has done before…it’s just that a step between that device and Amazon servers will no longer work.
Q. You are saying this isn’t Amazon doing this: does that mean I’ll have to update non-Amazon devices I own?
A. If they aren’t compatible with the new protocol (which I believe goes into effect January 1st, 2017…Amazon is just getting a bit ahead on this to give people a chance to update before it’s suddenly necessary), then either you’ll have to update them or they won’t connect. Hopefully, other companies will have updates available, but it’s possible you have devices where that won’t be the case (some companies have gotten out of the EBR…E-Book Reader business). Early Kindles have lasted an unusually long time for some people, compared to some types of devices. There have been Kindles in use for more than eight years. That probably means that more people may be using, soon to be unable to connect Kindles, than, say, tablets.
Q. I guess this might be a good time to update to a new model of Kindle. Can I get a trade-in?
Q. Okay, I’ll guess I’ll do the update. How do I know if my device needs it?
A. Go to this page: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lists models, and what the necessary version of the software is so you can see if you already have it. If you don’t, you can go from that page to where to get it. You could also just turn your wireless on and leave your device on for a day or so to see if it updates. You can plug it in when you aren’t reading it so it has enough power.
Q. What if I need more help?
A. Feel free to ask me (and my readers) by commenting on this post. You can also contact Amazon through http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*). I usually have them call me (that normally happens in seconds, and I’m speaking to someone with in a minute, and I have generally found them friendly and helpful.
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* 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.