Kindle Myths and Partial Truths

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There are new folks joining MobileRead everyday and many of them come asking for help as to which ebook reader to buy. There are some pervasive myths that persist about the Kindle and are even repeated in the media.

This wiki is dedicated to clearing up these myths and partial truths. I need the help of forum members to pull this together. As you think of or come across incorrect information about the Kindle (K1 and 2 and beyond), please post in this thread with the correction. Also feel free to build on to someone else Myth/Truth with additional information. Newbies, please feel free to jump in.

This won't be a real FAQ, there are tons of those around. It's focus is on myths and partial truths that are missing from FAQ's or aren't clear enough.



Contents

[edit] Locked into buying from Amazon only

Myth:

If you buy a Kindle, you are locked into Amazon's Kindle store.

Truth:

There are many sources for books that can be read on the Kindle.

Some Free Sites (Public Domain / Creative Commons)

MobileRead.com (look for .mobi books you can download to your computer or download the MobiGuide 
and get your books via Whispernet)
Feedbooks.com (books can be downloaded to your computer or if you download their Kindle Guide 
you can get your books via Whispernet - they even have a video on how to use the guide)
Manybooks.net (when you download to your computer, look for Kindle format or Mobipocket)
1001Books (download books to your computer or directly from your Kindle browser)
Project Gutenberg (thousands of public domain books available; download on your computer)
Forgotten Books (thousands of public domain books available; download on your computer)

Some Pay Sites

Fictionwise.com (look for .mobi books but NOT Secure Mobipocket books)
BooksonBoard.com (register your Kindle's PID and you can download any .mobi from their Overdrive servers - 
to learn more about this see the Visual Kindle Guide wiki)
Baen.com (great site for Sci-Fi books which offers free as well as low cost books)
Smashwords.com (look for .mobi books)


While Kindle owners have the option of purchasing content outside of Amazon, the depth and pricing of the Amazon ebook catalog makes it the best option more often than not. It is more likely that you'll find the book you're looking for on Amazon than elsewhere, especially when it comes to current bestsellers. There are retailers that specialize in specific genres (like Baen.com for Sci-Fi and eHarlequin.com for romance) that may be better choices than Amazon in those areas.

For a more comprehensive supply of ebook sources, please see our E-book_stores wiki.

[edit] Amazon charges to convert a document.

Partial Truth:

Amazon charges to convert a document.

Whole Truth:

Amazon does not charge for conversion, the charge is for sending the converted document to your Kindle via Whispernet.

New Truth:

As of May 4, 2009

Kindle Personal Documents

8:09 AM PDT, April 29, 2009, updated at 11:18 AM PDT, April 29, 2009
For anyone who has recently sent personal documents to your Kindle, we'd like to let you know about some updates to our 
Personal Document Service (via Whispernet).

Starting May 4, in addition to the existing list of supported file types (DOC, HTML, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TXT, AZW, MOBI, 
PRC), you can send RTF files to your Kindle email address for convenient wireless delivery. In addition to the existing 
experimental support of PDF, you can also send DOCX files for conversion. Some complex PDF and DOCX files might not format 
correctly on your Kindle.

We have also modified the fee associated with sending personal documents wirelessly to your Kindle. This fee is now based on 
the size of your file. The fee for Personal Document Service (via Whispernet) is 15 cents per megabyte rounded up to the next 
whole megabyte.

If you would like to download your personal documents for free, or if you are not in a wireless area, you can continue to send 
attachments to "name"@free.kindle.com to be converted. These documents will be e-mailed to your computer at the e-mail address 
associated with your Amazon.com account login.

As always, you can also use our free document conversion service for any document you want to transfer over USB, and you will 
not be charged.

Any charges incurred will be billed immediately.

You may also skip Amazon's conversion service and do it yourself with free software.

MobiPocket Creator - Windows only (install as the Publisher's Edition, get MobiPocket Reader while you're at it 
to test your conversions)
Stanza - Windows and Mac
Calibre - Windows, Mac and Linux (a big plus is the creator Kovid is a MobileRead member and regular poster)

[edit] A thief can use your Kindle to make purchases from Amazon

Thank you PilotBob

Partial Truth:

An un-authorized user or thief can use your Kindle to make purchases from Amazon.

Whole Truth:

It is very difficult for a thief (because your friends wouldn't do that to you) to do much if any damage to your credit card just because they have your Kindle in their dirty little hands (stupid thieves). I've never lost or had a Kindle stolen but it's not too difficult to think through once you understand how the system works.

The only thing the thief can buy is books (and become well read thieves) and it's pretty easy to stop them and get your money back (if books are purchased from Amazon).

For those not familiar here is how purchasing books for the Kindle works.

  1. You choose your book, buy it and download it (via Whispernet or computer)
  2. Your credit card or gift card is charged via 1-Click.
  3. For each and every book purchased an email is sent to the email account you have on record with Amazon. 
     This happens within seconds.


Let's say, a thief steals your Kindle and decides he/she wants to download the latest best sellers. They can't buy them via computer because they don't have the password to your account, so they turn on the Whispernet and surf on over to the Kindle store which is *always* signed in to your Kindle account (not the general Amazon store front). Every book they "buy" and download causes an email to be sent to you and you realize your Kindle is missing because you didn't buy those books. You contact Amazon and say "My Kindle has been stolen and thief made book purchases, please refund my money, remove the books from the Kindle then deregister it". You also ask Amazon to turn off 1-Click for that Kindle (you cannot do this yourself). The thief can no longer buy books from Amazon and if they turn the Whispernet on again, those books will be gone.

Update - Amazon may or may not remove books from a stolen Kindle but in either case you will still get your money refunded.

The frustrated thief decides to use the Kindle browser to surf over the main Amazon store front but they can't sign in because they don't know your Amazon screen name (if different from your Kindle's name... mine is different) or password.

Of course, if you have personal documents on your Kindle that might contain information allowing the thief easier access (credit card numbers, passwords...) you might have a different outcome.

The Kindle will still be usable at other sites but the thief is going to have to use his/her own credit info or that stolen from someone else. They can also re-register the Kindle under their own or assumed name (yeah, I don't like it either).

Added Note: I Found out how to prevent accidental purchases on amazon 1-click. I Simply deleted the credit cards from my account. Purchases of 0$ items still works fine, i tested it. If you want to purchase a book, all i have to do is add the card info, purchase, then delete the card info.

[edit] The Kindle can only read Amazon's format

Partial Truth:

The Kindle is limited in the number of formats it can read.

Whole Truth:

While the Kindle reads a limited number of formats *natively*, nearly all of the currently available popular formats can be converted for use on the Kindle.

Note: This information can apply to most ebook readers though the formats in question and the tools used for conversion may differ.

Native Formats

.azw (the Kindle version of .mobi)
.azw1 (aka Topaz)
.txt
.mobi and .prc (unprotected MobiPocket = no DRM)
.aa and .aax (Audible.com audiobooks)
.mp3 (you know what those are)

May or may not need conversion

.html (simple .html files may be converted but if the extension is changed to .txt, 
it can be loaded directly onto the Kindle)
.jpeg (will work if placed in a special "screensavers" folder when creating custom screen savers, 
otherwise jpegs must be converted)

Need conversion by Amazon or other software

.doc (MS Word files)
.pdf (Basic pdf support became available as of the 2.3 update for Kindle 2. 
Conversion to .azw is still available and works well, if the document is not heavy on charts, 
graphs and tables. Mostly text documents will be fine)
.jpeg
.gif
.png
.bmp
.zip (the zipped file itself is not converted but you can zip a bunch of documents together 
and send to Amazon for conversion)

Need conversion with other software (not through Amazon) - DRM free versions

.lit (MS Reader format)
.epub (an emerging new standard)
-er.pdb (eReader format, favored format at Fictionwise and eReader.com)
.fb2 (FictionBook format)
.mobi (some secured mobi files DRM can be read with the use of the Kindle's PID)

Cannot be converted (at this time)

.lrx (Sony's secured format which is being replaced by DRM'd epub)

Now that you know what can be converted you need to know what tools to use. Here is a list of FREE software that every Kindle owner should have *if* you want to venture outside of the Kindle store or want to create your own Kindle ready documents. You won't need all of them and some features overlap, but you should experiment to see which ones you like working with best.

MobiPocket Creator and MobiPocket Reader (Windows only)
Calibre (Windows, Mac and Linux)
Stanza(Windows and Mac)
KindlePID and KindleFIX (Windows and Mac - removed per Amazon)
Mobiperl (Windows and Mac)
Mobi2Mobi Command Line (Windows and Mac)
Mobi2Mobi GUI (Windows only)

Learn about other types of ebook conversion software by visiting our E-book_conversion wiki.

[edit] Without Whispernet you can't buy books

Myth:

Without Whispernet you can't buy books.

Truth:

As long as you have access to a computer, you can purchase and download books. The Kindle will be recognized as a mass storage device by your Windows, Mac or Linux computer, so you just need to attach the USB cable (it's included with your Kindle) and transfer the books to the "documents" folder.

Whole Truth:

There have been some reported incidents (via the Amazon forums) of sometimes not being able to download content from Amazon while out of the U.S. (even if the person is a U.S. resident on vacation). It doesn't seem to be a widespread problem but it does happen from time to time.

Without Whispernet you will lose access to the Kindle's wireless features.

* Wireless downloads from the Amazon Kindle store and document conversion service downloads directly to your Kindle
  (however, you can have conversions emailed back to you)
* The Kindle browser
* Wikipedia access
* Book sample downloads (a workaround is to get the samples from MobiPocket.com via your computer, where available)

Update:

On October 6, 2009 the Kindle 2 International was released with Whispernet available in most of the 100 countries where it was released via AT&T. There may be additional charges involved with Whispernet downloads via AT&T, so please see your country (on your local Amazon site) for more details.

[edit] Airport Security X-Ray Machines can/will fry your Kindle

Myth:

Airport Security X-ray machines can/will "fry" your Kindle

Truth:

Per Amazon Kindle Support (Based on correspondence between Amazon Customer Service and MobileRead member desertgrandma.)

"Currently there is not a possibility of damaged to a Kindle by the X-ray machinery at an airport. After researching this 
I have  confirmed that this machinery does not damage the Kindle in any way. If there is a problem with a Kindle 
or Kindle 2 Amazon.com will covered these problems with our manufacturer warranty." 


[edit] Only One Dictionary is available for the Kindle

Partial (Former) Truth:

The only dictionary available is the built in New Oxford American Dictionary.

Whole (New) Truth:

Unlike some other reading devices, the Kindle can have only one primary dictionary at a time. However, any suitable dictionary from the Kindle store or DRM-free MOBI dictionary can be used as the primary. Until recently there were no suitable dictionaries in the Kindle store, but now Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is available and there a few other "Kindle Default Dictionaries". There are also translation dictionaries available, even for Latin: A Digital Latin Dictionary.

The Kindle supports only the simplest kind of MOBI dictionary, and most of the many dictionaries available for sale in MOBI format are not suitable for the Kindle. The following DRM-free MOBI dictionaries do work on the Kindle: GNU Collaborative International Dictionary of English, and Wordnet Dictionary for Mobipocket. It is also possible to build your own MOBI dictionary, see How to create your own mobipocket dictionary for any language. For example, the Encarta dictionary works on the Kindle but its license requires you to convert it to MOBI yourself, see Converting Encarta Dictionaries to Mobipocket Tutorial. It is also fairly simple to create a mobipocket dictionary using Wiktionary backups: e.g., this port of the French Wiktionary. Free (as in GPL2) translation dictionaries for the Kindle

Dictionaries are large, so on a Kindle 1 it is a good idea to put them on your SD card.

In the UK and Australia, the Kindle 3 includes the Oxford Dictionary of English and The New Oxford American Dictionary.

[edit] You Must own a Kindle to buy Kindle books

Former Truth:

You must have a Kindle registered to your Amazon account in order to purchase Kindle books.

New Truth:

As of March 2009, U.S. resident owners of iPhones and iPod Touches are able to download the Kindle for iPhone app which allows them to purchase Kindle books whether or not a Kindle is registered to their Amazon accounts.

  • No Kindle required
  • Access your Kindle books even if you don't have your Kindle with you Automatically synchronizes your last page read between devices with Amazon Whispersync
  • Adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view the annotations you created on your Kindle
  • Compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch. Requires iPhone 2.1 software update

Whole Truth:

While the Kindle for iPhone app allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to purchase and download Kindle books to their devices, the app does not have all the features of the Kindle.

  • iPhone and iPod Touch only owners (no Kindle registered) may not download Kindle books to their computers.
  • iPhone and iPod Touch only owners are not assigned an "@kindle.com" email address and may not email content to their devices via the Amazon conversion service.
  • iPhone and iPod Touch only owners may not subscribe to Kindle blogs and newspapers (which may only be read on one Kindle per subscription).
  • The kindle for iPhone app does not have clipping support.
  • The kindle for iPhone app will only read books downloaded from Amazon's Kindle store. Books from other sources need to use one of the many other reading apps in the iTunes store.
  • The kindle for iPhone app does not have Text-to-Speech capability as does Kindle 2.
  • The kindle for iPhone app cannot shop the Kindle Store directly. iPhone and iPod Touch users must either use Safari on their devices to shop the store or their computers and have the books sent to their device(s). Books samples must also be sent this way.

Update:

  • On November 10, 2009 the Kindle for PC desktop reader was released.
  • On March 18, 2010 ahead of Apple's announcement for iBook for the iPhone/iPad/iPod, Amazon announced the availability of Kindle for Mac.
  • The Kindle for iPhone app now has a dictionary capability.
  • The kindle for iPhone app now has a text search capability.
  • The kindle for iPhone app now has a text highlighting capability.
  • The kindle for iPhone app now has a has an annotation capability.

Read Kindle Books on Your Computer

   * Get the best reading experience available on your PC. No Kindle required
   * Access your Kindle books even if you don't have your Kindle with you
   * Automatically synchronizes your last page read and annotations between devices with Whispersync
   * Create bookmarks and view the annotations you created on your Kindle

Shop for Books in the Kindle Store

   * Search and browse more than 360,000 books, including 101 of 112 New York TimesĀ® Best Sellers. 
     If you are a non-U.S. customer, book availability may vary
   * Find New York TimesĀ® Best Sellers and new releases for $9.99, unless marked otherwise
   * Get free book samples - read the first chapter for free before you decide to buy
   * Books you purchase can also be read on a Kindle
   * Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not currently available for Kindle for PC

System Requirements

   * A PC with a 500MHz Intel or AMD processor or faster
   * At least 128MB of RAM
   * Screen resolution of 800x600 or greater
   * Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows Vista or Windows 7
   * 100MB of available disk space
Note: Kindle for Mac has been announced and I'll post a link as soon as it is released.

[edit] Only 6 Kindles can be registered to your Amazon account

Myth:

Only 6 Kindles can be registered to your Amazon account.

Truth:

Up to 6 Kindles (or Kindle book reading devices) may share content.

I believe the confusion comes from the section on the support page regarding Digital Rights Management.

Digital Rights Management Issues
  
Content from the Kindle Store: Most books and other non-subscription items you purchase from the Kindle store 
may be downloaded for your personal use on to up to six Kindles registered to your Amazon.com account. If you have
exceeded your download limit, you must purchase an additional copy of the title. Subscription content can only 
be downloaded to one Kindle at a time, and only the seven most recent issues will be available for redownload 
in the Kindle Content Manager or from the Manage Your Kindle page.

After contacting Amazon Customer Service a couple of times, I received this response with clarification (italics added by me).

I have reviewed our previous correspondence and apologize for any frustration you have felt thus far. 
There is no limit to the number of Kindles that can be registered to a single account. However 
you will only be able to view a Kindle book from up to 6 Kindles at any given time.

Most books come with a maximum of six licenses, but their are some books that may have less. The amount 
of licenses a book comes with is determined by the author or publisher who owns the right to the content.

I hope this information answered your question. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your Kindle experience. 
If you need further assistance, please contact customer support at 1-866-321-8851.

Thank you for choosing Kindle. Enjoy! 

More Truth:

The "Up to 6 Kindles" has become more important with the release of the Kindle for iPhone app. iPhones and iPod Touches are considered to count as part of the "up to 6 Kindles".

Please see the following threads on the Amazon Forums for more information:

Registration nuance (re: multiple devices on same account)

Kindle sharing

Update

With the release of the Kindle for PC desktop reader (November 10, 2009), I now have 7 devices registered to my one Kindle account.

7 kindles.jpg

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