Archive for the ‘Frequently Asked Kindle Questions’ Category

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

May 11, 2017

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. In these posts, I address a topic in question and answer form. I write both the answers and the questions, but I try to address things I have actually seen/heard asked, or anticipate people asking. I am not an Amazon employee, and I will link to official information when possible. While this series refers to “Kindle Questions”, the blog has, since its regular publication starting in August 2009, expanded to cover e-publishing and Amazon generally.

Q. I heard Amazon introduced some new gadget yesterday, and that it has something to do with calling…maybe video calling. What’s up?

A. Amazon introduced the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the fourth type of device in the Echo family. It follows the original Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), and the Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*). The new device does have a screen, a 7″ screen similar to some tablets.

Q. And one of the things that’s new is that this Echo Show can make phone calls?

A. That is new, but all of the Echo devices (with the exception of the Tap) will soon be able to make phone calls. People will even be able to make phone calls with the Alexa app, which is available for both iPhones and Android phones. That’s all part of a new service called Alexa Calling and Messaging (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. It’s a phone calling service? What does that cost?

A. It’s a free service.

Q. You mean I can dump my phone bill and just use this and save all that money?

A. Not exactly. The phone calls require wi-fi, and while some cities have it free in public places, and some businesses, like hotels and Starbucks may offer it, you generally are paying for it somewhere. 

Q. I pay for my internet service, is that what you mean?

A. Yes. You might be paying a cable company, for example, for your internet, and then you have a wi-fi modem hooked into that, which broadcasts the signal. 

Q. But I wouldn’t have to pay the phone part of my bill? I could just pay for internet and maybe TV?

A. That could work in your home. However, it only works with people with a compatible Echo device or the Alexa app. The Alexa app is free, but not everybody has it.

Q. I can’t just call any old phone number?

A. No. The person you are calling has to have the Alexa app, and they have to be in your contacts on your phone.

Q. Wait, I still need a phone?

A. The app is going to be on your phone. Also, it needs a phone number when you set it up, although it doesn’t use the phone when you make the call…you can do calls with your phone turned off.

Q. Why does it need my phone number, then?

A. It’s part of the set up. Amazon says, “…this feature can use phone data but doesn’t use text messages and minutes from your cell phone plan.”

Q. So it uses my data plan?

A. Apparently, yes.

Q. It sounds a little more limited than I might have thought.

A. Its capabilities may expand, but right now, it is limited to people who have an Amazon account, the Alexa app, and a cell phone number. It is also currently limited to customers in the USA. 

Q. And they need to be in my phone’s contacts?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay…how do I make a call?

A. With an Echo device, you just say, “Alexa, call [contact name].” With the Alexa app, you tap the Conversation icon (which looks like a word balloon in a comic book), then tap Contacts, then tap the Call icon (which looks like a phone handset).

Q. Can the other person answer by voice?

A. Yes. Instead of the blue or red/orange rings we see, the light will be green. Alexa will announce who is calling, and the person you are calling can either say, “Answer”, or “Ignore”.

Q. What if I don’t want to get calls at all for a while?

A. There is a “Do Not Disturb” option. You can turn it on by voice by saying, “Alexa, don’t disturb me.” To get messages and phone call again, you can say, “Alexa, turn off Do Not Disturb”. To turn it on or off using the app, go to Menu-Settings- select your device-Do Not Disturb. You can turn it on and off, and you can schedule a daily “quiet time”. It can be on for one device at the same time it is off for other devices.

Q. I use my Echo for alarms and we use a Dot to set timers in the kitchen: will Do Not Disturb make those not work?

A. No, it only affects calls and messages through Alexa.

Q. You’ve mentioned messages a couple of times: are those text messages?

A. You can speak them, and your recipient will hear them…like a voicemail.

Q. Oh, I meant to ask: do they hear my phone call, and, I guess the messages, in my voice or in Alexa’s?

A. It’s your voice. In the Alexa app, there is a “play” button for them to hear your message. It also transcribes your message, but just like a cell phone, that can make mistakes. You can edit it before you send it.

Q. We could communicate silently, then, like if one of us is at work?

A. Yes.

Q. The written messages are in the app?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I delete them?

A. You can swipe them away on an iPhone. On an Android device, tap and hold the Conversation (not an individual message) and you’ll get a trash can icon at the top of the screen. By the way, if you tap and hold an individual message, the phone icon at the top will change to a two page symbol. Tap that, and you will copy the message. You can  then paste it into another app, like a text message.

Q. Do I say the punctuation, like I would on my phone?

A. Remember that if you are sending a voice message, the person would hear you say, “Period. New paragraph”. You can use the dictation feature on your phone’s keyboard, but be careful about which is which.

Q. And I can also use this with the screen on the…Echo Show to do videocalls, like Facetime?

A. Yes. 

Q. Can I do videocalls on my Fire tablet or my Fire TV? They have Alexa.

A. Not at this time. They are not supported for Alexa Calling.

Q. How about through the Alexa app…phone to phone?

A. Reportedly, yes, but ILMK has not tested that yet. I will test it and update this post.

Q. Speaking of testing, can I test out the system to see how it works?

A. Yes. You should have a conversation from yourself (the message will have Amazon’s text). You can tap the phone icon there to call your Echo. Your Alexa app has to first update to the new version (2.0.1050.1 on my Galaxy S7 Edge), and you have to have signed up for it.

Q. Anything else?

A. There is also a “drop-in” feature on the Echo Show (but not, apparently, on the Alexa app). You name specific people who can use it, and they can videocall you. You have ten seconds to reject the call, or to request audio only. Otherwise, the caller can see you, or at least the room where your Echo Show is. Do Not Disturb would presumably stop that, but this feature is on the Echo Show which has not yet been released (it is suppose to be released on June 28th of this year), and we don’t have full documentation. The testing that we’ve done so far has been with the app.

Q. That kind of sounds creepy.

A. It’s not going to be for everyone, even though you have control over it. It could be a great monitor for seniors or those with mobility challenges…or to check on your pets during the day. Amazon also says, “Amazon Customer Service is not able to see or review your messages, voice messages, calls, or contacts.” 

Q. Speaking of privacy, can I control who uses the feature on my devices?

A. No. Amazon specifically says there is no password protection for it, and points out that anyone can hear the calls in your home.

Q. You know, that quote you had about not being able to see it says, “Amazon Customer Service”: can anybody else at Amazon see it? Could law enforcement get information or videos from Amazon with a warrant?

A. I don’t know that, but it seems possible. There has been a court case involving information from an Echo already. I didn’t see anything that specifically said information would not be stored. 

Q. I guess that’s not that different from my other devices. Any other speculation?

A. Alexa is open to third-party “skill” writers, and the capabilities are constantly expanding. This post is about the calling/messaging service, and one thing it doesn’t do right now is call 911. It wouldn’t be hard for law enforcement to set that up (by having a compatible device, as some of them do with texting now), but that capability may come through an app. Similarly, someone may set up a way to call other people who don’t have the Alexa app or an Echo, perhaps through some forwarding mechanism. One big speculation about Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): Amazon recently introduced the Echo Look. It’s probably not a coincidence that one is the “Look” and the other one is the “Show”. The Look has great cameras, and that could network with the Show to provide augmented reality. The Look would see you, and the Show would show you on the screen in another reality, or a movie, or just an outfit you are considering buying. That’s just speculation, though.


Do you have additional questions or have you found out other cool features or limitations? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaways

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.

Start:May 10, 2017 7:44 AM PDT
End:May 17, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

 * 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.

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Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

October 11, 2016

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

Q. I’ve been hearing a lot about Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): what is it?

A. It’s a new benefit for people who have Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lets Prime members read books from a special selection of books at no additional cost.

Q. No additional cost to what?

A. To their Prime memberships. Prime members typically pay $99 a year for a number of benefits, including free two-day shipping on many items, a vast music library, and videos.

Q. How do I know if I’m a Prime member?

A. You can check by going to “Your Account” at the top of any Amazon page and choosing “Your Prime Membership”.

Q. So, if I’m a Prime member, I can now read books free?

A. Some books, yes. When it was introduced there were 1,014 titles in Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile*) and that’s still the case now.

Q. What kind of books are they? Will I have heard of them?

A. Some of them for sure, if you already are a reader…and some you’ve probably heard of even if you don’t follow books that much. That includes the first Harry Potter book, for example, and The Man in the High Castle.

Q. Like the TV show?

A. Right, yes…the TV show is based on that book. There are also a lot of books you probably haven’t heard of before. There are also some graphic novels and comic strip collections.

Q. And it doesn’t cost me anything to read them?

A. Not if you are a Prime member.

Q. Do I get to keep them? Can I give them as gifts?

A. No, this is just the ability to read them. Think of it like Netflix for books. People have been using that term for a while for different things, but this is really quite a bit like that. You have a certain selection of media, you can enjoy them, but you don’t own them and you can’t give them away.

Q. Okay, I get that.

A. Another thing that is like Netflix is that this is a rotating selection. There will be different books, probably every month, which is the way Netflix does it. I expect we’ll see stories about which books are coming into Prime Reading and going out of it, just like we do with Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.

Q. I don’t read a book very quickly. What happens if I’m not done with it and they take it out of Prime Reading?

A. You can still finish it. You can hang on to a book as long as you are a Prime member. If you stop being a Prime member, you lose access.

Q. How many books can I have? Can my family members read them?

A. There is no limit to the number of books you can borrow, although you can only have ten at a time. If you return one of those ten, though, you can get another one. As to family members, yes, if they can read books on your account they can read these.

Q. That means that if my three kids are reading Harry Potter, I have seven more books for the adults in my family?

A. Actually, if three people are reading the same book, that only counts as one book. Your three kids could read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and you’d still have nine more books to go.

Q. Wait, so my Significant Other and I can read the same book at the same time and it only counts as one book?

A. That’s right. You can talk about it with each other…even race to finish it, if you want. The number of people who can read the same book at the same time is set by the publisher; unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, which you can see before you download it, that number of “simultaneous device licenses” is six.

Q. That sounds pretty good. I have somebody on my account who never reads books, though…any benefit for them?

A. Yes! Prime Reading includes magazines, and really well-known magazines: People, GQ, Vogue,  Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated…

Q. We read those!

A. A lot of people do…they are some of the most popular magazines.

Q. I’ve got a kid who is a geek and a bookworm. Are there weird magazines in there too?

A. Not really. This selection, both books and magazines, is mostly more mainstream choices. Think of it as like what you would see in an airport bookstore.

Q. I get it. Oh, are videogames part of this?

A. No, but Amazon did introduce Twitch Prime, which does have videogames. To use Prime Reading, you have to be a Prime member…that means you do have access to music, TV shows, movies, and games, just not part of this program.

Q. How about Audible? I listen to books on my commute.

A. Not exactly, but if an e-book has an audiobook and is set up for Whispersync for Voice, you can listen to that audiobook as part of this. Right now, there are about 350…just about a third.

Q. How much does that cost? Some of those audiobooks are expensive!

A. It’s part of the deal…it doesn’t cost anything more.

Q. That’s going to save me a lot of money!

A. Prime’s an investment, but yes, it can save you a lot of money.

Q. I’ve heard about the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library? Is this the same thing?

A. No, that program required you to own a hardware Kindle, and you could only borrow one book a month. It did require a Prime membership.

Q. Hardware Kindle?

A. A Kindle e-book reader or a Fire. You can use Prime Reading with a free Kindle reading app…and those are available for lots of devices, including iPhones  and iPads.

Q. Why would anybody use that Lending Library thing, then?

A. There are a lot more books there, about a million and half versus a thousand. That’s where there are more books your geek kid may like. Outside of that, I don’t see a real advantage to it. I’m thinking that the Lending Library may be going away.

Q. What about those million books, then? Would nobody be able to borrow them?

A. They are available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That’s a separate program. People pay, usually $9.99 a month for access to those books. Outside of that, it works just like Prime Reading…the ten book at a time limit, for example.

Q. I don’t think I’d need that if I have these thousand books as part of Prime.

A. Maybe not. That will be the case for a lot of people. For people who want a lot more choices, though, KU will be worth the price.

Q. If they have Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading, can they have twenty books out at once?

A. No. I confirmed that specifically with Amazon. Getting a book through Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited counts towards your limit of ten. In fact, I don’t think there’s a way to say whether the borrow if from KU or Prime Reading.

Q. Well, they are paying more for Kindle Unlimited,  so it seems like they should get more.

A. They do…they have more choices, just not more borrows. Think of Prime Reading as free access to a small part of Kindle Unlimited.

Q. Okay. Doesn’t seem worth it to me to pay that extra ten bucks a month.

A. It might not be for you, but some other people will think it’s a good deal.

Q. I can see that. One more question: why doesn’t Amazon just do this with all the books?

A. They have to pay the publishers, and they have to have permission.

Q. Oh, I have a cousin who wrote a book…can they do this to get more money?

A. It’s a very small group of books, and it sounds like it has been invitation only.**

Q. Alright, I’ll ask my cousin. Why would Amazon do this at all, then, if it costs them money and they don’t get anything more for it?

A. To make people more likely to stay with Prime. Prime members spend a lot with Amazon and they often spend it on higher profit items. There isn’t a lot of profit with e-books, not like with some physical items.

Q. That makes sense.

A. Do you have any other questions?

Q. Not right now. I guess I’ll check it out.

===

Readers, if you have other questions or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

**There has been some very interesting public discussion about indies (independent publishers) and Prime reading. There have been rumors of “signing bonuses” (like an advance in traditional publishing) and then similar payments to KU. Here’s a forum thread on it: https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=1069009&#1069009

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

March 22, 2016

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?

A. There is a trade-in program at (but it’s not exactly by) Amazon. Amazon Trade-In Program (at AmazonSmile*).

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.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition

February 17, 2011

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition

Q. I have a Kindle and I’m thinking of getting my Signficant Other one.  If I do that, can we both read the books I buy?

A. Yes.  As long as both Kindles are registered to the same account, they’ll both have access to all of the Kindle store books bought on that account.

Q. Does that include books I bought before I got the second Kindle?

A. Yes. 

Q. Do all those books download automatically to the new one?  We don’t like all of the same things.

A. No.  They’ll be available to the new device, but your Significant Other can pick which ones actually are put on to it.

Q. What if we do want all of them on there?  Can we send them all at once?

A. No.  You make your choices one at a time.

Q. Can I just move the files from one Kindle to the other, using the USB cable?

A. No.  When you download a book from the Kindle store, you tell Amazon for which device you are downloading it.  The file you get is keyed for that one device.  If you put that file all another device, it won’t be able to read it.

Q. But I thought you said the books are available to the new Kindle?

A. They are, but you need to download a new copy of the file keyed for the new device.

Q. Is there a charge for that?

A. No.

Q. Do all of the files from the Kindle store work that way?

A. Almost all of them.  The others are independently-published books that don’t have that “keying”, called DRM (Digital Rights Management).  That’s only a few books, though.

Q. Do I have to understand that DRM thing to put my books on my Significant Other’s Kindle?

A. Not when it’s on the same account.

Q. How do I put it on the same account?

A. When you register, use the same e-mail address and password that you use for your Kindle.

Q. Does my Significant Other have to know the password?

A. No.  You can register the Kindle.

Q. Where do I do that?

A. Either from the Kindle itself (Home-Menu-Settings) or at http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

Q. How do I prove to Amazon that my Significant Other and I are in the same household?

A. You don’t have to do that.  You can put anybody you want on the same account.

Q. They don’t have to be part of my family?

A. No. 

Q. What stops me from getting a bunch of people from work and registering their Kindles to my account, so we can all share books?

A. Nothing.  That’s okay to do.

Q. I thought I heard somewhere that you could only have six Kindles on an account.  Is that true?

A. No.  There is no limit as to how many Kindles you can register to an account.  The limit is on how many Kindles  on the account can have the same book licensed for them at the same time.

 Q. So you are saying I could have one hundred Kindles on the same account?

A. Yes.  They don’t have to all be Kindles.  They could include free reader apps, like Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, and so on.

Q. What about a NOOK or an iPad?

A. NOOKs can not read Kindle books. There is an app for an iPad.

Q. So, you said something about only six Kindles having a book.  Is that six ever or six at the same time?

A. Six at the same time.

Q. If I have one hundred Kindles on the same account, we can all read the same book for one purchase price, like $9.99?

A. Yes.  Not at the same time, usually.

Q. Usually?

A. The default number of “simultaneous device licenses” is six.  If it’s different from that, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page.  Some books have fewer: some are unlimited.

Q.  Unlimited?  So all one hundred Kindles could have the same book at the same time?

A. Yes.  Those are often public domain titles, not under copyright.

Q. What’s the lowest number of simultaneous device licenses?

A. One.

Q. Have you ever seen a book with one simultaneous device license?

A. Yes.

Q. Why aren’t they all the same?

A. The publisher sets it on a title by title basis.

Q. It’s not up to Amazon?

A. No.

Q.  What happens when I’ve used all the device licenses and I try to put the book on another device?

A. You’ll get a message telling you can’t.

Q. So I can only have it on six devices ever?

A. No.  You can release the license from one device to use on another one on the account.

Q. How do I release the license?

A. Remove the book from the Kindle and sync with Amazon so they know you did.

Q. How do I remove the book from the Kindle? 

A. On any Kindle except a Kindle 1, get to the title and click right.  You’ll see a choice to remove it from the device.

Q. Is that the same as deleting?

A. No.  If you see a choice to delete, it isn’t a book from the Kindle store.  If you delete it, it won’t be backed up for you by Amazon.

Q.  What do I do if I have a Kindle 1?

A. Get to the book in the homescreen and hit the backspace button.

Q. Okay.  So, I can have as many devices on the same account as I want, and we can all read the Kindle store books for the same price, but we might have to wait for somebody else to delete and sync with Amazon, right?

A. Yes.

Q. How do we download the books?

A. You can get them from any Kindle except a Kindle 1 by going to the Archived Items.  Any book that is not on that Kindle will be in the Archived Items.

Q. It won’t be in the archives if it’s on that Kindle?

A. It wil be in the archives at Amazon, but it won’t show on the Archived Items on that device.

Q. So two Kindles on the same account might have a different number of books in the Archived Items?

A. Yes, depending on how many are on that device.

Q. My archives don’t seem right.  I bought a book using a different Kindle, but it isn’t showing in my Archived Items.

A. The Kindle doesn’t know what is in the archives until it syncs with Amazon.  If things don’t look right, do a sync: Home-Menu-Sync & Check for Items.

Q. I restarted once and lost all the books in my Archived Items, but they came back later…what happened?

A. When the Kindle restarted, it forgot which books were in the archives.  It had to connect to Amazon again to find out.

Q. I do all the computer stuff for my Significant Other.  Is there a way I can just send the books to my Significant Other’s Kindle?

A. Yes.  Go to http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle .  You’ll see a way to search for titles you have purchased, and to send them to a particular Kindle.

Q. I might put my child on my account.  Can I control which books my kid can get from the Archives?

A. While the Kindle is on the account, it can see all of the books in the archives.  You can’t choose which ones each Kindle sees.

Q. But I don’t want my child to see certain books I’ve bought.  What can I do?

A. The Kindle won’t see the archives while it is deregistered.  You could download the books you want your child to see, then deregister the Kindle. 

Q. The books won’t disappear when it is deregisted?

A. No.  They won’t go away until they are removed from the device.  But the Kindle won’t have access to the account’s archives while it is deregistered.

Q. How do I put more books on it?

A. Re-register it to the account and download the books you want.

Q. Is it okay with Amazon to keep registering it and deregistering like that?

A. They haven’t said.  I’ve asked them several ways, and they’ve never answered.

Q. But I won’t get in trouble?

A. Not as far as I know.

Q. So, I can sell or give away a Kindle with Kindle store books on it?

A. No.  That’s against the Terms of Service.

Q. Isn’t that what’s happening when I put books on a Kindle for my child and then deregister it?

A. No.  The ownership of the Kindle isn’t changing.

Q. Okay.  So when the Kindle isn’t on the account any more, it can’t get to the archives?

A. Right.

Q. Can a Kindle be on more than one account at once?

A. No.

Q. That means I can’t have my Kindle on my family’s account and on my work’s account?

A. That’s right…only one account at a time.

Q. What if I want to put someone else on the account who already bought books on a different account?  Can we combine the two accounts and have access to the books we both bought before?

A. Not officially, but I’ve heard about it happening.  If you want to check a specific case, contact Kindle Customer Service at http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport .

Q. I think I’ve got it, then.  I can have one hundred people on my account, or more, and we can all read the same book for one purchase price, but probably not at the same time?

A. That’s right.

Q. That sounds great!  Hey, who pays for the books?

A. There are several ways to arrange that.

Q. Can we have different credit cards for different people?

A. All Kindle store books are bought with 1-click.  You set that up in your account. 

Q. I can’t switch credit cards when I’m checking out?

A. With 1-click, you don’t check out.  You just buy the book by clicking a button.

Q. So we all have to use the same credit card?

A. No.  You can switch credit cards on your computer, but not on your Kindles.  You’d have to switch it before each purchase.  You do that in the Your Account link at Amazon.

Q. You said there was more than one way?

A. Yes.  Now that Kindle book gift-giving is available, one person could gift a book to someone else on the account.  The giver can pay for it however they want to do that.  The recipient will get an e-mail with a link to get the book: the giver will have paid for it.

Q. I wouldn’t be able to read the book until the recipient clicked on the link?

A. That’s right.

Q. That still seems pretty good.  My credit card would be on the account, but if I put my friend on the account, they could still buy books with their own credit card?

A. Yes.

Q. Any other ways?

A. Yes.  You can also buy gift cards/certificates for the account.  Let’s say you have the password.  Someone else on the account could buy you gift certificates for the books they want to get.

Q. Can I limit those gift cards so they are used just for Kindle books?

A. No.  When you get a gift card, you apply it to your Amazon account.  Any 1-click purchases, whether for a Kindle book or not, will draw from that gift card balance before going to the credit/debit card on the account.

Q. So, if I bought a t-shirt with my 1-click, it would drain the gift card balance?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, I see how we could both pay for books.  What happens if one of us leaves the account?  Do they just lose the books they bought?

A. They lose access to the archives.  If they have books on their Kindle, those books will remain on the device.  But if they get a new Kindle, they will not be able to put those books on the new device.

Q. That sounds like it’s kind of risky to go on someone else’s account, right?

A. That’s right.  You need to figure out how you will deal with that situation.

Q. Do I have to give everybody on my account the password?

A. No.  The only people who need the password are the people who are going to “manage” the account.  Those people will register and deregister the Kindles, change the credit cards, and so on.  The other people are “users”.  They can buy books through their Kindles.  They can also gift books to the Managers. 

Q. If I die, can the users get to the books?

A. No.  They need the password.  You might want to make sure someone has the credentials (e-mail and password) in the event of your death. 

Q. Can I will the books to someone else?

A. If someone has the username and password they won’t need the books to be willed to them.

Q. But could I will them to someone?

A. Unknown.

Q. Does this only work with books?  What about games and magazines?

A. Games you buy should be in the archives and available to other Kindles on the account.  Back issues of magazines and newspapers will appear in the Archived Items of other compatible devices on the account, so it works with those, too.  That’s fairly new.

Q. So we can have one subscription the New York Times and read it on more than one Kindle?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I read it on my iPad?

A. You can only read magazines and newspapers through the Kindle store on Kindles and Android devices currently, and the back issue will only appear for those devices.  Amazon says they will be making them available to other devices in the future.

Q. Can I download the games to my Kindle 1?

A. No, that’s not a compatible device for the active content in the Kindle store.  Some “games” are really just books, and those will work.

Q. This all seems to good to be true.  Do the publishers know about it?

A. They set the number of simultaneous device licenses, so they know.

Q. Why doesn’t Amazon advertise this more?  It seems like such a good deal.

A. You’d have to ask them.  😉

===

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions.

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

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special book lending edition

December 31, 2010

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special book lending edition

Q. Can I loan Kindle books that I have bought to other people?

A. Yes.  Amazon enabled Kindle book lending on December 30, 2010.

Q. Do I have to get my Kindle updated to have that ability?

A. No.  Lending takes place through Amazon’s servers, and that has already been updated.  Nothing needs to happen on your Kindle.

Q. Can I lend any book I want?

A. No.  It’s up to the publisher on each book.

Q. But I bought the book, right?  I should be able to loan any book to anybody I want, just like I do with a paperbook.

A. When you buy a copy of a paperbook, that’s what you buy…that copy.  You can do anything you want with it: loan it, sell it, give it away…burn it.  When you “buy a book” in the Kindle store, you are buying a license, and are bound by the terms of the license.

Q. I don’t remember reading any license.  Where is it?

A. It’s your Terms of Service with Amazon.   Variable elements for each title will generally be on the book’s product page at Amazon.  You may also be bound by copyright law, and there may be additional rights statements in the book.

Q. Product page?

A. That’s what you get when you search for the book at Amazon.

Q. So it will tell me there whether I can loan the book?

A. It will tell you if you can loan it.  It does not mention it if you can’t.  If it’s a book you bought previously, it will tell you at the top of the page that you can lend it.  If you haven’t bought it before, it will tell you in the product details…usually about half way down the page.

Q. So I can tell before I buy the book if I can loan it?

A. Yes.  It’s on the product page.

Q. I don’t want to have to look through the store to figure out which books I’ve bought that I can loan.  Can I see that somewhere else?

A. Yes.  You can go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

Click the plus box on the row for the book.  If you can lend it, there will be a button that says “Loan this book”.

Q. I tried that, but I didn’t see a button.

A. That means you can’t lend that book.  It’s up to the publisher.

Q. How many books can be loaned?

A. That’s hard to say at this point.  Amazon hasn’t given the books a separate section in the store.  It’s probably similar to Barnes & Noble…that’s about 50% for fiction e-books. 

Q. Why would it be similar?

A. The publishers presumably offered basically the same deal to Amazon and to Barnes & Noble.   Other elements of the program are similar to Barnes & Noble’s LendMe program for their NOOK.

Q. What other elements are there?

A. You can only loan a book once.

Q. Once to the same person?

A. Once ever.  If you buy a copy of Alice In Wonderland and loan it to your mother, you can not loan it to your sister later.

Q.  But my sister and I read the same Kindle books all the time.  Does this change that?

A. No.  You are probably on the same account.  People on the same account can read the same book for a single purchase price.

Q. Does this change anything else I’ve been doing?

A. No.  You can do everything you’ve been doing before.  If you don’t choose to use the lending program, nothing is different. 

Q. Why would the publishers limit it to one time?  I can lend a paperbook as much as I want. 

A. It’s up to the publisher…they are probably concerned about losing sales if they allowed unlimited lending.

Q. Can I only lend to my family members?

A. No, you can lend to anyone you want.  It could be a complete stranger.

Q. Won’t people set up ways to do that on the internet?

A. Yes.  There are already places to do that.

Q. Won’t that cost the publishers sales?

A. It might.

Q. Does the person have to have a Kindle for me to loan the book to her or him?

A. No.  They don’t even have to have a Kindle reader app.  If they don’t have one, they’ll be directed to a place to get a reader app.

Q. Directed how?

A. When you lend a book to someone you send a special e-mail to them that has a link to the book. 

Q. How do I do that?

A. You can do that from your Manage Your Kindle page (see above) or from the book’s product page.

Q. So someone would have to have my e-mail address to lend me a Kindle book?

A. Yes.

Q. What if I don’t want to borrow it?  What if I already have it, for example?

A. You won’t be able to accept the loan if you already have gotten the book from the Kindle store.  You also won’t be able to accept the loan if the book is unavailable to your country.

Q. So, if I buy a book in the US that isn’t available in Canada, I can’t loan it to a Canadian?

A. That’s correct.

Q. Can a Canadian lend to a Canadian?

A. No.  At this time, booklending can only be initiated within the USA.

Q. What if I just don’t want to read the book?

A. If you don’t accept the loan within seven days, the book becomes available to the lender again.  They can then try to lend it to someone else.

Q. Can I refuse the loan offer so they get it back faster than the seven days?

A. It doesn’t appear so.

Q. You said “becomes available”…what does that mean?

A. When you have loaned a book to someone else, it is not available to you.  That’s similar to a paperbook.

Q. Does it disappear from my Kindle?

A. It won’t be available to you through your archives or Manage Your Kindle for download.  If it’s on your Kindle and your wireless is on, you’ll see a message that items were “removed”.  You’ll see a note next to the title in your homescreen that is “[on loan]”.   If you try to open the book, you’ll get a message that it is on loan instead of the book.

Q. You said “your wireless is on”.  If my wireless isn’t on, will I still be able to read the book on my Kindle?

A. Yes.  If you have your wireless off when you lend the book and the book is on your Kindle, you can continue to read it.   When you sync the next time, though, it will go into the “loan mode”. 

Q. So if I just don’t turn the wireless on for the two weeks of the loan, we can both read it?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that against the rules?

A. I haven’t seen anything that says that.

Q. Okay, so I can’t read a book if I’ve loaned it and I’ve had my wireless on.  How long might it be before I can read it again?

A. The person has seven days to decide about the loan, and then fourteen days to read the book, so the maximum is 20 days.

Q.  What if the person hasn’t finished the book by then?

A. The book will still be “returned” to you.

Q. What if they don’t turn the wireless on?

A. Unknown.  The book may lock itself without using the wireless.

Q. Could I loan the book to the person again so they can finish reading it?

A. No.  A book can only be loaned once.

Q. What if the person finishes the book early?  Can they return it early?

A. Yes.  They would go to that Manage Your Kindle page, click the plus next in the book’s row, and choose to delete the book.

Q. Would I be able to read it again then? 

A. Yes.

Q. How would I know I could read it again.

A. You’ll get an e-mail.  You can also go to that Manage Your Kindle site to check on the status of the loan.  You’ll see if the loan has been accepted, and if it has, when it will run out.  A borrower can go there too, to see how long the loan is.

Q. Is there any kind of warning that the loan is going to end?

A. Yes.  The borrower will get a “courtesy notice” on her or his Kindle three days before it ends.

Q. Does Barnes & Noble have this fourteen day limit, too?

A. Yes.

Q. What if the person didn’t finish the book, or just liked it, and wants to buy it?  Is there an easy way to do that?

A. Yes. Clicking on a book you have borrowed in your Archived Items will bring up a link to buy the book (once the loan has ended).

Q. Does this have anything to do with borrowing books from a public library?

A. No.

Q. So, if I don’t want to use this, I don’t have to use it.  If I loan a book to somebody, I can only loan a book once, and I can’t read it while it is on loan unless I keep the wireless off…is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Where is the information from Amazon on this?

A. http://www.amazon.com/kindle-lending

Q. I published a book through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.  What do I need to do to make my book lendable?

A. It’s lendable now.  If your book is in the 70% royalty program, you have to allow lending.  If your book is in the 35% royalty program, you have to go to the Digital Text Platform site and opt out of it for each title, under Rights and Pricing

Q. If I opt out, what happens to loans that are already happening?

A. Opting out will only affect future purchases.  For more information on your DTP publications and lending, see

DTP book lending help

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions.

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

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special passwords edition

June 21, 2010

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special passwords edition

Q. Can I password protect my Kindle?

A. Yes, if you have the 2.5 update.

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, I have the update and I’m ready.  Why would I want to password protect my Kindle?

A. There are several reasons.  If someone finds your Kindle and does not know the password, they will not be able to see what you have on it.  That could keep family members from seeing embarrassing personal documents.  It may be required by your work that you have a password on a device before putting certain types of documents on it.  It also prevents people from ordering on your Kindle if you leave it lying around.

Q. So, if I order, say, erotica, I can keep my child from knowing I have it?

A. If you put it on your Kindle yourself, yes.  If you order it from the Kindle store, and your child has another device on the account (another Kindle, an iPhone, and so on), they would see the title in your archives.

Q. Can I password protect the archives?

A. No.  The password only protects the specific Kindle.  You have a password on your account that protects certain functions (like adding a device to the account or changing e-mail addresses authorized to send items to your Kindle), but the archives are available to everybody on the account.

Q. Can I password protect just the buying part?

A. No.  If someone doesn’t know the password, they can’t use the Kindle, even just to read the books on it.

Q. Is there anything I should do before I set a password?

A. You  may want to record the password you are going to use somewhere.  If you forget the password, the only way Kindle Customer Service is going to be able to reset it is to do a factory reset.  That will also delete anything you’ve put on the Kindle yourself: personal documents; pictures; periodicals you’ve “kept”; MP3s; and books from Audible.com.  I strongly recommend you regularly back up your Kindle’s documents, music, Audible, and pictures folders. 

Q. They can’t just reset the password?

A. No.

Q. Where do you recommend I keep my password?

A. Some place safe and not dependent on a single device.  Some people and companies keep their passwords in safe deposit boxes.  Others make sure trusted people (family members, lawyers) have them.  It just depends on how careful you want to be.

Q. Anything else I should do?

A. You are going to be asked to enter a “hint” for yourself.  You may want to think of that ahead of time.  For example, some people may use something like a first pet’s name as a password, so putting “pet” as a hint might help.  Also, the password can be up to 12 letters long…you might want to think of it first.

Q. Any suggestions for passwords?

A. Generally, it’s better not to use as a password something you carry with you.  For example, some people like to use their birthdays for passwords.  Since you often have that with you in your wallet (on your driver’s license), that’s not as secure.  It doesn’t appear that the Kindle requires you to use both letters and numbers.  It depends, again, on how secure you want to be.   The most secure thing would be a random string of numbers and letters, but that’s hard to remember.

Q. How do I enter the password?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and select “turn on” next to Device Password.  You’ll be asked to enter the same password twice (to make sure you didn’t have a typo the first time) and then to enter your hint.  Then, select “submit”.

Q. “Submit” usually means you are sending something to a server.  Is my password being stored by Amazon?

A. Apparently not. 

Q. Does that mean it’s stored on my Kindle?  If someone got my Kindle, could they find my password on my device?

A. My guess is that it would be possible, but difficult.  The password is presumably encrypted in some way.  It’s similar to your laptop: it would be difficult for someone to “hack” into your password, but hypothetically possible for very technically sophisticated people.

Q. When will I have to enter the password?

A. Whenever your Kindle “wakes up” or turns on.  If you attach your Kindle to a computer using your USB cable (when it is asleep), it will also ask for the password.

Q. If I forget my password, can I call Amazon and have them give it to me?

A. No.  They’d have to reset, as above.

Q. What if I want to change my password later?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and you’ll see a choice to “edit” next to “device password”.  You’ll need to enter the old password, then the new password twice, and then a hint.  Then, hit submit.

Q. What if I don’t want to use a password any more?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and you’ll see a “turn off” choice next to Device Password.  Select it, and then hit submit.

Q. If I turn it back on again, will it remember my old password?

A. Probably not.  You’ll probably need to enter it again, but that is unknown at this time.

Q. Will I be able to use the same password I used before?

A. Probably.  It seems likely, but I have not tested it yet.

Q. Where can I get more official information from Amazon?

A. The Kindle User’s guide has been updated and is available here.  The Amazon Help Page is here.

Q. Do you have similar information on other features of Version 2.5?

A. Yes.  You can see posts in that category here.

Note: I have not been able to test 2.5 myself yet.  I’ll update this page as necessary, and welcome your feedback.

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. You may also be interested in my Kindle title with the same name

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

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Collections edition

June 18, 2010

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.

Q. Probably?

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?

A. Yes.

Q. How long can my Collection name be?

A. Unknown.

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?

A. The Kindle User’s guide has been updated and is available here.  The Amazon Help Page is here.

Note: I have not been able to test 2.5 myself yet.  I’ll update this page as necessary, and welcome your feedback.

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. You may also be interested in my Kindle title with the same name.

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

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Agency Model edition

April 6, 2010

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special Agency Model edition

Q. What is the agency model?

A. It’s a new arrangement between publishers and booksellers.

Q. How does it work?

A. Rather than publishers selling copies of books to booksellers, and booksellers selling them to customers, publishers are selling the books directly to customers. 

Q. So, I’m going to buy my books directly from Simon & Schuster and Macmillan?

A. Yes, but you’ll do it through stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The booksellers will process the sale, but you’ll really be buying it from the publisher.

Q. I can just shop through Amazon for my Kindle just like I did before, then?

A. Yes.

Q. If that’s the case, why does it matter to me?

A. Some publishers have publicly stated concerns about the $9.99 price point Amazon was using for many New York Times bestsellers and current releases.  Since the publishers are now setting the price you pay, prices have gone up in many cases.

Q. But Amazon can still discount them, right?

A. No.  Amazon is just processing the sales for the publisher.  Under that system, Amazon can not charge a different price.

Q. Won’t places like Apple and Barnes & Noble just undercut Amazon then?

A. No.  They are also under the agency model.  The price will be the same at all the bookstores under the agency model.

Q. Wait…so I can’t shop around for a better price?

A. No.  Books under the agency model will cost the same, regardless of your “sales channel”.  Whether you pay for them through Amazon or Apple, you are buying from the publisher.

Q. Isn’t that illegal price-fixing?

A. No.  Price-fixing is when “like entities” get together and decide on a price.  If all the gas stations in your town, regardless of brand, got together and decided to charge ten dollars a gallon, that would be illegal.  You wouldn’t have any choice what to pay.

Q. But I won’t have any choice what I pay in the agency model, right?

A. Not for a specific book from a particular publisher.  But you could buy a different book.  If one publisher charged $25 for all new e-books and another one charged $12.99, you could choose to buy the e-books from the second publisher.

Q. But if I wanted a specific book, like the latest book in a series I’m reading, I’d pay the same price wherever I got it?

A. Yes. 

Q. What stops the publisher from charging me $100 for that book?

A. Competition with other publishers.  You might stop buying a particular author and switch to another one. 

Q. What if all the publishers charge $100 for a book?

A. They can’t get together and decide to do that.  That would be illegal price-fixing.  They would also lose sales.

Q. Are all the publishers part of this agency model thing?

A. No.  Five of the six biggest publishers in the US are part of it.  Random House has not signed with Apple, and it is a very large publisher.  In addition, many smaller publishers and independent publishers are still under the old “wholesale model”.

Q. Will their prices go up as well?

A. That’s the same situation it was before.  The small publishers and Random House will suggest a price to Amazon and the other retailers, but Amazon can discount it if they want to do that.

Q. Does the agency model affect paperbooks as well?

A. No. 

Q. Why not?  If the publishers want it for e-books, why not for paperbooks?

A. The process is different, which presumably makes it different legally.  With a paperbook, the retailer (Amazon, for example) buys the copies from the publisher, and owns them.  They can do whatever they want with them, including selling them to customers.  With e-books, you are dealing with licenses to read the book on a certain number of devices.

Q. Is that the same reason I can’t sell my e-books after I buy them from the Kindle store?

A. Yes.   When you buy a copy of a paperbook, you own that copy.  When you buy an e-book, you are actually buying a non-transferrable license.

Q. But I can loan books with my nook, right?

A. If the publisher allows it, and with several other restrictions.  Not all publishers allow it.

Q. So, paperbooks will still be cheaper at some places like Costco, and may still be discounted at Amazon?

A. Yes.

Q. I noticed I was charged sales tax when I bought a Kindle book.  That’s never happened before.  Is that part of the same thing?

A. Yes.  If your state collects sales tax on e-books, and the publisher has a physical presence in your state (a building or a sales force), Amazon (as a sales agent) can be compelled to collect sales tax for that state.

Q. Wait…how can the publishers tax me?

A. They aren’t taxing you, it’s a question of when the tax is collected.  States ask you to report internet purchases on your tax form and pay the taxes on them if you haven’t already.  They may call it a “use tax”.

Q. Who does that?

A. Apparently, not as many people who should.  That’s why the states want to make someone collect it at the time of sale and send it to them.  They could go after people who don’t report it, but that’s expensive.

Q. So, does this mean Amazon will start collecting sales taxes on my other purchases from them?

A. No.  The agency model means you are buying just e-books from the publishers, so if the publisher has a physical presence in your state, Amazon will have to collect the sales tax on just those purchases.

Q. Amazon is in Seattle, right?   So, have they been collecting sales taxes from customers in Washington before this?

A. Yes.  Also in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, and North Dakota.

Q. But I live in New York and bought something from Amazon and I didn’t pay sales tax…why is that?

A. You may have bought an item that isn’t taxed by New York state.  Not every item is taxed in every state.  Amazon is only compelled to collect the sales tax the state would have collected.

Q. How do I know if Amazon is going to collect sales tax when I’m buying the book?

A. Currently, I believe it is not indicated until after you click the 1-click button. 

Q. That seems sneaky…what if I think that makes the book cost too much?

A. Amazon is not choosing whether or not you pay the sales tax: just whether or not they collect it, so it doesn’t technically make a difference in the price. You can always “return” a Kindle store book within seven days of purchase for a refund by contacting Customer Service. 

Q. How did this whole agency thing get started?

A. Apparently, it came about when Apple offered the deal to the publishers in conjunction with the iBooks store, which is connected to their new iPad.

Q. Why would Apple do that?  Don’t they want to set the prices, like Amazon does?

A. There is a lot of speculation as to a reason, but Apple hasn’t publicly stated one.   Steve Jobs had stated that the prices would be the same at Amazon and Apple. 

Q. I don’t like this whole agency thing.  What can I do about it?

A. You could write to the publisher or buy other books.  For more information, see this previous post

Q. How can I tell if a book is in this agency agreement?

A. At Amazon, it will say, “This price was set by the publisher.”

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

Before you get a Kindle…

January 20, 2010

Before you get a Kindle…

A lot of people are thinking about getting Kindles (or other EBRs…E-Book Readers).  We get expect the number of people e-books to increase tremendously in the next few years.  That may be on tablets, but a lot of it will be on EBRs. 

I see people ask questions after they get them, so I thought I’d take this post to address some of the things you might want to know and/or do before you get one.

 Q. Does it matter which EBR I get?

A. Yes.  One of the important considerations is if you know anybody else who already has one, and if you might want to share books.  The big three aren’t really compatible with each other.  If you buy a Kindle and a friend has a Sony or a nook, that’s going to complicate things.

Q. Which one is the best?

 A. That’s going to be a bit subjective, although I do like the Kindle the best.  I’ve analyzed the three of these, and they each have advantages and disadvantages.  This previous post  gives you an overview of the three, and links to more comprehensive analyses.

Q. Should I buy one now or wait for the next generation?

A. My feeling is that it’s worth buying it now, generally.  I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth out of my K1 and K2…if there’s a next generation Kindle soon, I won’t feel bad about it.  None has been announced, by the way.

Q. If I’ve already bought books from Amazon in paper, will I have to buy them again in e-book form?

A. Only if you want them as e-books.  There’s no reason you can’t have both, of course.  You won’t get a discount for buying them again, and there are some good reasons for that.  Let’s say you paid $4.95 for the paperback three years ago.  That was a fair deal at the time, right?  Amazon has to pay the publisher when you download the e-book…and that might even be more than what they got from you for the paperback.  The publisher might offer you a discount, but that’s up to them (and unlikely).

Q. Are all the Kindle store books $9.99?

A. No, many of them are less expensive, some are more.  What Amazon says is that New York Times Bestsellers and most new releases are $9.99…unless marked otherwise. 

Q. Are e-books always cheaper than p-books?

A. No, but they usually are…it’s rare when they aren’t.

Q. Will I save money with a Kindle?

A. It depends on your book buying habits, but probably.   If you only get books from the library, then you won’t.  Take a look at how much money you spent on books last year.  That will give you a good idea.  It’s nice that you can get so many free books (although that’s particularly older books).  The more you books you buy, the better the Kindle is for you economically. 

Q. I heard Amazon can remove your books…is that true?

A. They did that in one widely-publicized instance with an unauthorized edition of books by George Orwell.  They have promised they wouldn’t do the same thing again…and even stated it in a legal settlement.  They actually compensated people more than what customers had paid for the book…customers could make a profit on the deal.

Q. How do I know if Amazon has the books I want for the Kindle?

A. Check the Amazon website.  You can choose to search for Kindle books.  However, many of us have taken this as an opportunity to broaden our reading horizons.  Books are being “Kindleized” very quickly…the US Kindle store has more than quadrupled the number of titles in just a couple of years.

Q. What Kindle should I get?

A. There are two models currently available.  One is $259, and one is $489.  The more expensive one has a bigger screen…that’s the main difference.

Q. I’ve heard you can only get books from the Kindle store for the Kindle…is that true?

A. Nope.  You can get books from lots of sources.  The Kindle can only read books with Digital Rights Management (DRM) on them that come from the Kindle store, not from other sources.  DRM is code that most publishers insert into e-book files to control the use of the file.  It generally won’t be on books that aren’t under copyright, and some publishers release without it.

Q. Can I loan/share my Kindle store books with other people?

A. Yes, if they are on your account.   Otherwise, no.  Putting people on your account can work very well, though. 

Q. Can I read Kindle books on my computer?

A. Yes, with a free “app” from Amazon.   Otherwise, no.

Q. Can I read Kindle books on any other devices?

A. Yes.  You can read them on the iPhone and iPod Touch, currently, as well as on PCs (with the app) and Kindles.  Mac and Blackberry apps are coming soon.

Q. How many Kindles have been sold?

A. Amazon doesn’t release that information, but the Kindle has been the #1 selling item at Amazon. 

Q. I’ve heard the Kindle reads books to you.  Is that like an audiobook?

A. No, it’s a “robotic” sounding voice.   Think of it as another way to access the information in the book, not as an entertaining adaptation, like an audiobook performed by professional actors.  You can hear a sample of it here:

Tom Demo at A Kindle World blog

Q. What happens to my Kindle books if Amazon stops making the Kindle?  Will it be like beta videotapes?

A. No.  The beta versus VHS thing was hardware.  Different e-book formats are a matter of software.  I’m confident that we would have the ability to read our Kindle store books (perhaps through conversion) even if Amazon went under (knock virtual wood).

Q. Won’t I miss the feel of a “real book”?

A. You get used to it.  I actually prefer it now.  I love paperbooks, but this is easier.  For more information, see this earlier post.

Q. I want to know more about it, like the technical specs.  How can I get more info?

A. Start with the Kindle product page.  You can go to Kindle Support from there, and even read the User’s Guide.  I also recommend the Amazon Kindle community.  You can ask questions there, and they will get answered very quickly by users.  You can also leave comments on this post for me.

Q. What do I do after I get my Kindle?

A. See this earlier post.

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

 

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special software update 2.3 version

November 28, 2009

This is a special software update 2.3 edition of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions.

Q. What is the software update 2.3?

A. Amazon sends out software updates from time to time for the Kindle.  This is an update that was made available November 24, 2009.

Q. What does it do?

A. That depends on which Kindle you have:

Kindle 2 International 

  • Longer battery life when using Whispernet
  • Native PDF (and option to convert)
  • Manual screen rotation
  • Words per line adjustment

Kindle 2

  • Native PDF (and option to convert)
  • Manual screen rotation
  • Words per line adjustment

Kindle DX 

  • Better “cropping” (reducing the outer edge white space) for pdfs
  • Converting a pdf is now possible
  • Auto-time out to go to sleep mode extended to twenty minutes from five minutes

Kindle 1 

  • Unaffected by this update

All affected Kindles

  • New sleep mode pictures
  • Minor other changes, like a splash screen that says “opening”

Q. How do I know if I have it?

A. You can always check your software version by going to Home-Menu-Settings, and look in your right corner of the device.  If it starts with anything besides 2.3, you haven’t gotten it yet.

Q. Are there disadvantages in getting it?

A. The only thing I’ve heard is the Kindle running more slowly, but that has not been widely reported

Q. Will I get it automatically?

A. If you have Whispernet connection, eventually. 

Q. Can I get it manually?

A. Yes.  Go here.  You’ll find the appropriate file for your Kindle, and instructions.

Q. What might I do wrong installing it?

A.  Make sure you pick the right file for your device.  It’s not good to try and install the wrong version.  Make sure you put the file in the “root” directory of your Kindle.  That means you just put it on the Kindle, not into one of the folders.

Q. I’ve installed a hack…do I need to remove it first?

A. Yes.  The “hacks” that are out there (unauthorized modifications of the Kindle software…one popular one changes the fonts and another allows for personal sleep mode pictures on Kindles other than the Kindle 1) will block updates.   I do not recommend using them, because the violate your Amazon Kindle Terms of Service.  For more information, see this earlier post.

Q. How does it extend my battery life?

A. Currently, this is apparently only true for the Kindle 2 international.   What it does is manage the battery use better when using the Whispernet.  It supposedly has no impact when the Whispernet is not used.  This leads me to speculate that it limits its attempts to contact the network (which is part of what uses the battery).  It would attempt to connect when told to do that by you, but may not do so as much as it was doing before.

Q. Will that make it harder to connect to the internet?

A. This is only speculation, but it may make take a bit more time.  Once connected, it should be the same. 

Q. How much will it extend the battery?

A. Battery use is affected by a number of factors, including temperature.  With the Whispernet on, Amazon now says it is “up to seven days”.  The “up to two weeks” life without using the Whispernet remains the same.

Q. What does “native pdf” mean?

A. Portable Document Format (pdf) is a popular type of file from Adobe.  Native reading means that the device (the Kindle 2 and Kindle 2 international) will be able to read the file without having it converted to another format.

Q. Does mean that reading a pdf on a Kindle 2 international will be the same as reading it on a computer?

A. Not exactly, but it will be pretty close.

Q. What will be different?

A. The most obvious thing is screen size.  A six inch diagonal screen is pretty small for most pdfs.  You also won’t be able to select text, and a really complicated pdf may not look right (but most will look okay).

Q. How do I put the pdf on my Kindle?

A. You’ll attach the Kindle to your computer using the incuded pdf cable.  You’ll put the pdf into your Kindle’s documents folder.  For details, see this earlier post.

Q. Can I e-mail it to my Kindle?

A. Yes.  If you e-mail it directly to the Kindle, you’ll be charged fifteen cents a megabyte rounded up in the US, and ninety-nine cents a megabyte rounded up for US customers outside the US.  See that previous post for information.

Q. What is the conversion option?

A. Before this update, the Kindle 2 and Kindle 2 International could have the file converted by Amazon.  The Kindle DX could not have a pdf converted by Amazon.  Now, all three devices have the option to have the document read natively, or converted to AZW (the main Amazon Kindle format). 

Q. Why would I convert it?

A. A native pdf is treated pretty much like an image file.  This limits what you can do with it.  You can’t add notes or highlights, you can’t search, you can’t use the dictionary, you can’t increase the text size, and you can’t use text-to-speech.

Q. Why wouldn’t I convert it?

A. Tables and columns will look better in an unconverted pdf.  You’ll also get page numbers. 

Q. How do I convert it? 

A. When you e-mail it (either directly to your Kindle or to your free Kinde address), put

convert

in the subject line.

Q. I heard there was a probem with the conversions not happening.

A. There was initially.  It’s working now.

Q. After I convert it, how do I find it?

A. It will say “pdf” to your left on the homescreen.  Some people are saying it does not appear at the top of the homescreen when first entered.  If this happens to you, try Home-flick up-flick left.  Change the filter to “Personal Documents”.  You’ll probably be able to find it then…open it.  Change the filter back to All Items.  It should be at the top.

Q. What about the manual rotation?

A. The Kindle DX has been able to change the way the screen display from “portrait” (taller than it is wide) to “landscape” (wider than it is tall).  This can help with reading smaller text.  It was able to do it with an inclinometer: it could sense when the Kindle was turned on its side.  With the update, the Kindle 2 and Kindle 2i can also do this.  Hit the Aa key: you’ll see options.  You can display the image four different ways.  Notice that the display will stay this way until you change it: if you go back to the homescreen when it is landscape, it will stay landscape.  The 5-way controller will react properly, but the menus may be sideways to your current orientation.

Q. What does “words per line” do?

A. When you hit Aa in a text document (not an unconverted pdf), you’ll get the option to change the margins.  You can leave it at default, make it lower, or lowest.  How many words  you get will depend on your text size setting.  This is similar to a feature in the Kindle for PC app.  If you choose fewer words per line, the margins will get bigger, and therefore fewer words will fit.

Q. Was the User’s Guide updated reflect these changes?

A.  Yes.  It should be in your archives, or you can read it online (and download it, if you like) here.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. Amazon has created a help page here.

If you have additional questions or things you found, feel free to let me know.

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


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