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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I ordered my Kindle in April, little did I know that two months later I'd be answering questions and two months after that, I'd have a book published on the topic! But that's exactly what happened. It's been fun answering questions and learning all of the ins and outs about the Kindle -- and, I'm still learning.

New Kindle owners often have the same questions as they are getting started with their device and even experienced owners need a refresher course every now and then. It was for this reason that I started the Amazon Kindle FAQ. One of the frustrations of the Amazon forum, as everyone knows, is that you can't search. So people have a tendency to ask their questions repeatedly, which gets tiresome for all involved.

Here at Kindleboards, users can search. So, as a convenience to the community, I am going to pull together the top questions I can think of and post them here. This will not be a replication of the thread at Amazon, nor will it include all the info that's in my book, The Amazon Kindle FAQ. Rather, the intent is to have the most commonly asked questions grouped together in one place, available for ready reference to newcomers to this forum.

A bonus is that I can include pictures, something I cannot do at the Amazon forum and did not choose to do in the book, except in two instances. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so maybe some of the illustrations will be clearer than my text-based explanations. For visual learners, I am sure that is true!

This thread is locked so that only I can post in it. If you have questions you think I should include here, please send me a PM.

Thanks everyone, for your interest and support. This is a wonderful community and I am happy to be able to share useful information with all of you.

Leslie

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For reference, here are the parts of the Kindle, with labels. These are the terms I used in answering questions so if you are not sure what the "select wheel" is...now you know!





 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Q: Can I use the Kindle in ....?

A: Let's back up a step and talk about what it really means to "use" the Kindle.

The Kindle has two switches on the back: one for on/off of the device and the other for on/off of the Whispernet.

If you turn the Kindle on and it has content on it (book, magazines, newspapers, etc) you can use the Kindle anywhere in the world and even out of it. The Kindle will work in your home, business, or car. You can read it on busses, subways, planes, monorails, cruise ships, sailboats, submarines, and trains. It will work in every state in the US and every country in the world. There is no limit to where the Kindle can be read.

What does not work everywhere is the Whispernet. That means that you will not be able to acquire content via the Whispernet service if you are in a place that it does not work. This includes the states of Alaska and Montana. The Whispernet does not work everywhere in the US -- this link provides a coverage map so you can see if it works where you live: http://www.showmycoverage.com/mycoverage.jsp?id=A921ZON. In addition, Whispernet does not work anywhere outside of the US, at the present moment.

If you are on a cruise ship far away from land, it will likely not work. It will not work on a plane, where you shouldn't be using it anyway (but remember, you can read your Kindle on a plane, once they give the okay for electronic devices).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Q: What is Whispernet?

A: From the Amazon Kindle product page comes this description: We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you'll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills-we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven't read the book for tomorrow night's book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you're in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

And because we know you can't judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out-if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Whispernet utilizes Amazon's optimized technology plus Sprint's national high-speed (EVDO) data network to enable you to wirelessly search, discover, download, and read content on the go.

Unlike WiFi, you don't have to find a hotspot. Amazon pays for Kindle's wireless connectivity so you will never see a monthly wireless bill for shopping the Kindle Store. There is no wireless setup-you are ready to shop, purchase and read right out of the box.

Note: There is no wireless coverage available currently on Sprint's data network for Kindle in Montana and Alaska.

Once again, the coverage map: http://www.showmycoverage.com/mycoverage.jsp?id=A921ZON
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Q: What do you mean when you say "acquire content"?

A: Let's start with a visual: imagine your Kindle is a bookcase. When you first take it out of the box, the bookcase will have 2 items: The Kindle User Guide and a welcome letter from Jeff Bezos. As the new owner, you have the fun job of filling up the shelves. This is acquiring content.

I say content rather than books because you are not limited to just books. From Amazon you can buy books, obtain sample chapters of books, and subscribe to newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

You are not limited to getting content only from Amazon. You can buy books that will work on the Kindle from other sites, such as fictionwise.com. You can obtain thousands of free books from sites such as the Gutenberg Project and feedbooks.com. Content can also come from you in the form of documents that are converted (either by you or Amazon) and loaded onto your Kindle.

Content that is acquired needs to be put on your Kindle so that you can read it. This can happen using the Whispernet service (see previous answer for more on Whispernet). If you are in a location without Whispernet, you can transfer the content using a USB cable that is connected to your computer and your Kindle. Whispernet is the easiest, of course, because you don't have to do anything except flip a switch to turn it on, but using the USB cable is pretty simple, too.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Q: So I can use the Kindle even if I don't have Whispernet?

A: Yes. You will be able to read content that is on your Kindle. You won't be able to 1) browse the Kindle store from your Kindle; 2) buy books or other content directly from the Amazon store on your Kindle; 3) send email to your Kindle; 4) use the experimental web browser feature; or 5) obtain sample chapters from Amazon.

To acquire content, you'll need to rely on your computer to browse Amazon or other sites that offer books (paid or free). Once you buy the books, you can download them to your computer and transfer to your Kindle using the USB cable. When you plug your Kindle into the cable, it will show up on your computer as a drive (on mine it is G:). Just copy and paste the files from your computer to your Kindle. Make sure you put them in the documents folder on your Kindle, otherwise they won't show up on the Kindle home page.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Q: I don't live in the US. Can I buy a Kindle?

A: This is Amazon's stated policy on this topic:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200127480&#us

"At this time, we are unable to offer the Amazon Kindle and associated digital content from the Kindle Store to our international customers due to import/export laws and other restrictions. When you place your order for an Amazon Kindle, both the billing address for the payment method and the shipping address for the delivery must be recognized by our systems as valid U.S. addresses. To successfully purchase digital content from the Amazon Kindle Store, the 1-Click payment method listed on the Manage Your Kindle page must be a credit or debit card issued by a U.S. Bank with a U.S. billing address. We value our international customers and hope to make Kindle available internationally in the future."

So the short answer to your question is no, you can't.

People have gotten into lengthy discussions about ways to circumvent this policy but that is beyond the scope of this FAQ and will not be discussed here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Q: But I have a Kindle and am traveling to...?

A: If you have a Kindle and are traveling to any country in the world, your Kindle will work just find to read books and content. The Whispernet will not work so you will need to rely on using the USB cable to transfer content to your Kindle. Many people going on vacation just opt to "pre-load" their Kindle with lots of books and things to read so they don't have to worry about it during their trip.

Note that the Kindle charger will work in countries outside of the US. You will need an adapter for the plug for the country you are traveling to.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Q: Can I share my Kindle books with other Kindle owners?

A: You can only share your Kindle books with other Kindle owners who are registered on the same Amazon account. Up to six Kindles can be registered to one account. If you have a friend who owns a Kindle, but is not on your account, you cannot email the book file to him/her. You cannot copy it to a SD card and give it to him/her. The other person won't be able to open or read the file. Kindle files are encoded so that they can only be read by Kindles on a shared account.

Note that on a shared account, only books can be shared. If you have newspaper or magazine subscription, that can only be read on one Kindle and not copied or downloaded to another. If you tried to do it, when you open the paper, you'll get a message to contact customer service.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Q: But I really like sharing my books with family and friends!

A: I share too, but this is the way I look at it: When I buy a book, it is for my own enjoyment and entertainment. Taken as a whole, books are a good source of relatively inexpensive entertainment. I don't generally buy a book with the intention of sharing it or giving it to someone else. I buy it for myself.

A Kindle book costs, on average, $9.99 (or less). A movie ticket is about the same. If you go to a movie, once it is done, you can't give that movie ticket to anyone else. All you can do is tell someone whether or not you enjoyed the movie and recommend that they see it. A Kindle book is similar: entertainment that you buy for yourself. You can't give it away when you are done reading it.

You can always remind people of the best source of free books in the world...the public library!

If you really can't get over the sharing hump, then maybe the Kindle is not the right device for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Q: Help! My Kindle is frozen!

A: First off, take a deep breath and relax. More than likely your Kindle is fine.

If your Kindle is frozen, you will need to do a reset. Start with a soft reset: press the Alt-Shift-R keys at the same time. (Shift is the one that looks like an up arrow.) If that doesn't work, plug your Kindle into the charger and try again.

If the soft reset doesn't work, try a hard reset. Turn your Kindle over. Take the grey cover off. You see a small hole labeled, "Reset." Take a paper clip and press it in the hole. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Again, if that doesn't work, try again with the Kindle plugged into the charger.

Be patient. Give it a few seconds to reset. Watch the silver blinking boxes in the cursor bar. That let's you know if something is going on.

If the soft/hard reset with the combination of being plugged into the charger doesn't work, you should probably call customer service.

Why do Kindles freeze up? I am sure there are many reasons but the most common seem to be: 1) letting the battery charge run down too low, so that there is not enough power to refresh the page; and 2) pushing too many buttons in quick succession, thus interfering with the memory.

The Kindle also indexes the books that are loaded onto it, so that the search function will work properly. If you have downloaded a lot of books or a very large book and you interrupt the Kindle is in the process of indexing, that might cause it to freeze.

How to contact customer service is in the next question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Q: How do I contact Kindle support/customer service?

A: From the Amazon website:

To reach Kindle Support via phone or e-mail, please click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page. Contacting us through the Web site allows you to verify security before a call is placed and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you. Our live customer service associates are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, seven days a week. You can also reach us by calling one of these numbers: Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851, Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927.

This is a picture of the contact us button on the right side of the customer support page:



In my experience, the callback feature is excellent. They call within seconds. I highly recommend using this option, whenever possible.

To get to Customer Support, go to the Kindle store. Support is always listed on the bar of options on the far right hand side, as illustrated below in the red circle.



Update: One of our members here, Angela told me this:

You should let CS know when you are calling about the Kindle so that you don't waste time explaining to the first person only to have to explain again to the next. They have a dedicated Kindle CS, but all CS calls go through on the same number. Each time I have called, as soon as they know it is Kindle, they put you on hold to transfer. I find it easier now to mention that I am calling Kindle support at the first "how may I assist you."


Thanks, Angela for this info. Note that if you are using the callback feature, they know it is a Kindle call, so you'll be connected to the right department when they call you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Q: Can I return a Kindle book?

A: Yes, any Kindle book can be returned within 7 days. To return a book, you need to contact Customer Service. You can't return the book through your account at the Amazon website.

Once a book has been returned, it will be removed from your Media Library on your Amazon account. The next time you turn Whispernet on, it will be removed from your Kindle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Q: Is the Kindle good for students?

A: It depends on the type of student. At the present time, there are not a tremendous number of textbooks available for the Kindle. I am sure academic publishers are investigating the device and determining their business plans for making content available, but at the moment, texts are limited. Further, certain types of texts, such as those in math and science, are not ideally suited to the Kindle, because the Kindle does not provide good support for graphs, charts and forumlae.

That said, students don't only read textbooks. So, those studying in certain fields might very well find many books they need available in Kindle editions. My son took a "Fantasy in Literature" course last spring. The vast majority of the books he read are available at Feedbooks.com, for free. Too bad he didn't have a Kindle then! He could have saved about $100.

Students have reported using the Kindle in other ways, too. One good idea is to type up class notes and email them to the Kindle to study from. Others have reported putting notes for presentations on their Kindle, thus eliminating the need for a sheaf of papers.

In sum, the Kindle is not going to be a replacement for textbooks. But I do think it can be a useful adjunct to a student's scholarly armentarium.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Q: Are Kindle books abridged?

A: No. A Kindle book is the same book as a print version, only in an ebook format. Some people have noted that a Kindle book might not include photographs, maps, or charts that are in the print version, but that is not universally true. I read Escape by Laura Palmer and that included photographs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Q: What about newspapers? Are they complete?

A: In terms of articles, yes. Other content is not included, however. I have a subscription to the New York Times and the paper does not include the crossword puzzle, ads (including classified), and box scores. Other papers do not include syndicated content such as "Dear Abby" and the comics.

For reference, here's the Front Page of the New York Times:



and here's the Sections List of articles. You can navigate from this page.



Here's one page from the article view. You can see a one-sentence synopsis and decide if you want to read the article, or not.



All newspaper and magazine subscriptions come with a 14 day free trial. Once you have trialed a paper, however, you can't trial it again. Amazon keeps track.

To cancel a subscription, go to "Manage Your Kindle" at your Amazon account. Subscriptions are near the bottom of the page. Just choose cancel.

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Q: How do I find books and things in the Kindle store?

A: There are lots of ways to navigate. Here are some of my favorite strategies.

Start at the Kindle storefront, which can be found here. On the left hand side, there are many options for navigation.



You can search for Kindle bestsellers. The list is updated hourly.




The list of hot new releases is also updated hourly.



Movers and shakers are books with the biggest gains in the Kindle store. My FAQ once showed up as #19 on this list. That was exciting!



Advanced search is a feature that I use all the time. Go to books and choose "advanced search" from the menu bar. I have also linked you to the page here.



Here's the advanced search screen. Make sure to choose Kindle books in the drop down menu.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Q: How do I delete something from my Kindle?

A: The easiest way is to use the Content Manager. Use the scroll wheel to bring up the Content Manager. Check the boxes of the things you want to delete, bring up the menu again, and choose "remove selected items."





You can also connect your Kindle to your computer using the USB cable and delete items via Windows Explorer.

Note: Using the Content Manager to remove items from your Kindle does not require Whispernet. If you want to download items from Amazon to your Kindle, then Whispernet must be on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Q: Can I convert PDFs to read on my Kindle?

A: One of the endless questions that seem to be asked is, Can I convert PDFs to read on my Kindle? The answer is yes and no.

The official answer is no. PDFs are only supported as an experimental format for the Kindle and there is no guarantee that they will convert satisfactorily. That said, plenty of folks, including me, have converted documents successfully.

The easiest way is to email the file to <name>@kindle.com. Make sure the wireless is on when you send it. If Amazon will convert it, it will show up on your home page in a minute or two. One time I did send a document and the conversion failed; I received an email saying that PDFs were not a supported file type.

Here's an example of a document that I sent. It converted nicely. There were a few funny typos but overall, it was fine and readable.



On the other hand, a physicist got in touch with me last week and asked me to do a test of an article from a physics journal. It was formatted in columns, with tables, figures, and formulae. Obviously, the result was not satisfactory.



Note: you can tell which docs you have sent for conversion because they will have your email address (the address from which the doc was sent) in the space where the author's name usually is (I have blanked it out in the first example). As far as I know, there is no way to change this.

The other option is to download Mobipocket Creator and convert the file yourself but even that is not guaranteed. Yes, the document will convert but it might not be something you are able to read. For example, here is an obituary from the New York Times:

The headline, picture, and little summary paragraph (shown here) all came out okay, one page each:



but the actual obituary looks like this!



Here is an example of a file that converted nicely. Note that when you use Mobipocket Creator, you can insert the author's name so it will show up in the right place:



So, like I said...PDFs can be hit or miss. The less complex the document, the more likely you are to be successful, but there are no guarantees that that statement is universally true.

Leslie
 
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