Answering Your Kindle-Related Questions

This is a long post….

I thought it time to answer some email and other questions I receive via either the blog interface, Facebook Page, etc.  Granted, after being out of town for a week during Christmas and New Year and returning on Monday, I am a bit behind so please bear with me as I try to catch up.

For those of you who asked where I went for vacation, my family and I went on a Caribbean cruise out of Galveston on the 26th and came back on the 2nd.  We had a great time, and it was nice weather but a bit cramped having four people in a really small room for a week.  If you have never gone on a cruise, I highly recommend it and as an accountant I can tell you generally it is cheaper than flying somewhere, booking a hotel and rent car, and paying for meals and activities.

I’m ready to go again – right now – but my wallet won’t let me!

Before I get started on today’s replies one thing I would like to point out is I do not work for Amazon, there is a 99.9999999% chance I can’t fix your Kindle hardware or system software issues, and I will be the first to raise my hand and say I certainly do not know all of the answers to people’s Kindle questions.  Most of you will appreciate the previous sentence shortly.

Kindle Reading Apps

Several people have asked me if they can read the free books on a Kindle app for their iPhone, iPad, and other iYounameit devices.  The answer is “yes, you can.”  Click the link below to find out more:

Kindle iPod app: http://amzn.to/kindleipod

In addition to the iPod, Amazon has developed free Kindle reading apps for the iPhone, Windows PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone 7 devices.  Here is a link the appropriate page on the Amazon website to learn more as well as to download the app for free; after you get to this page, just click the appropriate device name on the right-hand side of the screen: http://amzn.to/kindlereadingapps

Free Book Offers

There are several people convinced I have only been highlighting books that are available for a free “borrow” if you are an Amazon Prime member.  There are also several people convinced I should be responsible for books that were on a particular day not being free several days later and they are a bit perturbed (for lack of a more colorful descriptive word) they clicked the buy button and were charged by Amazon and strongly believe I should give them a refund.

The fact is when I send a post out about a book being free in the Amazon Kindle store, or any other site, the book is free at that time.  A book can be offered for free for as long as months at a time, and most of us have seen books being offered for free for less than an hour: I have no control, and rarely have the inside information (only if an author emails me in advance), on how long a book is going to be offered for free.  The bottom line is you need to make sure the book is still free before you hit that buy button: if the price is, for example, $2.99 when you click the buy button your account will be charged $2.99!

Amazon will allow you to return a book if you hit the buy button by accident and they will give you a refund – that’s only fair, as you can do the same thing if you purchased a book from a retail location.  TO return a book, you can do it on your Kindle on the screen immediately following your purchase, or you can also do it by either contacting Amazon’s customer service department.

My Email Address

Pat had this question for me via the blog’s web interface:

Michael,
This maybe a dumb question but do I blog to you via my kindle or do I blog via my laptop thru wordpress? and where the heck do I type “kindle at gagler dot com? I am 73 so it takes me awhile catch on.

I’ll answer the last one first.  Spammers deploy electronic web crawlers, or robots, to gather email addresses.  Once they get your email address, you are now subject to all sorts of interesting email advertisements I want to avoid, so that is why I type my email address as kindle at gagler dot com.

As an example of what that really means, let’s assume an email address for this example is joe@schmoe.com  – you see the email address clearly, and if you hovered your mouse over that email address you can copy it to your clipboard and do with it what you will: so can the spammers.  So, in a small effort to confuse the spam robots, you can shorten joe@schmoe.com to joe at schmoe dot com as when you say it out load or read it, that’s the email address.

As far as the first question, I’m not too sure I understand it: technically, Pat as a reader is not blogging “to” me.  If, however, you meant “how do you read the blog” you can read it via a Kindle subscription if your Kindle is not a Kindle Fire (click here or type in http://www.tinyurl.com/fkblog into your computer’s web browser to sign up for the Kindle subscription), read it on Facebook (click here or type in http://www.facebook.com/fkbooksandtips into your computer’s web browser), via Twitter (Click here or type in http://twitter.com/fkbt into your web browser), or on the web at https://fkbt.wordpress.com

If you are a Kindle Fire user, Amazon does not have the subscription option for you to use like a regular Kindle does.  You can, however, use the free Pulse App that is installed on your Kindle Fire to read the blog – click here or type in http://bit.ly/rSWjuj into your computer’s web browser to read on how to set that up (it takes about 30 seconds to set it up).

 

Links With a Kindle Touch

Maria had a question last week about the Kindle Touch:

Your blog’s links to free books do not WORK in 3G on the Kindle Touch. If you want people to pay for the blog, why don’t you find another solution?

And here was my reply:

Maria-

Without being physically in front of your Kindle Touch, I can only speculate as to the problem you are seeing. I will tell you, the links work on my Touch and other devices, albeit sometimes slowly.

Regards,

Michael

Maria had a series of increasingly frustrated comments on the Facebook page yesterday afternoon and this morning I won’t repeat here, primarily about how Amazon is blocking web surfing Internet sites on her Kindle Touch 3G unless she is going to the Amazon website, but not blocking any website if she is using a Wi-Fi connection.

Maria sent me an reply yesterday on the blog interface after others tried to help her with her problem:

Of course I checked the wifi first! Yes it works beautifully in wifi and I expected the same in 3G when I am not sitting at home. Today I missed out on several valuable books because I could not download via 3G and was not at home. I do not expect Michael Gallagher to be “kind”. I am not asking for a favor here. If I subscribe to this blog, and pay money for it, I expect it to work as promised. Part of that promise is that I can click on the links in the blog and download a book easily. I will base my decision to pay for the blog on whether or not it works. Mr. Gallagher, if Amazon controls everything, and they’re telling me it’s because your links are browser based, then you should be working with them to make the links operate correctly in 3G. The blog isn’t browser based, and the store isn’t browser based, so why can’t you make the links work without calling up the browser? Also, it’s completely ridiculous that Amazon has disabled all links in their browser including to their own site when you use 3G. I’m just one person and have no pull. A blog’s author who brings in money has more clout to get this fixed.

Maria also sent me an email I received tonight after I came home from work and completed my seventh grade math homework and dinner:

I have been posting over and over again about this issue, yet you are silent.  Can you please tell me if you are going to address this problem?  I called Kindle support and they say it’s the blog author’s responsibility for what happens in his blog.  They have not been helpful at all.  I have found out through my own efforts that the Touch browser does not recognize amzn.to as an amazon address. It will accept an amazon.com link.  I think as blog author it is your responsibility to address a technical problem that keeps your blog from working correctly on all Kindles.  Otherwise, you should be disclosing that it doesn’t.  Why are you using amzn.to as a link anyway?

I am assuming Maria missed several of my posts where I said I was on vacation, I am glad I am sticking to my design of keeping this as a family-readable publication as my nieces and nephews read this blog for free books and tips (Hi, Emily!).  I also do not work for Amazon in their technical support department.

To be upfront, my first response was not suitable for publication.  I think this email was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, as there are quite a few new people thinking I am getting rich blogging away or blogging is all I do.  That’s the farthest thing from reality: I blog for fun.

The reality is I have no control over what Amazon does, or does not, allow to be sent through their networks: when you use the Kindle web browser over 3G, you are on Amazon’s network.  I will tell you the links work fine, most days, on my test units that receive the blog as a paid Kindle subscription (Kindle 2, Kindle 3 / Kindle Keyboard, Kindle DX, and a Kindle Touch with 3G and WiFi); the blog links also worked fine on my Kindle 1 until it bit the dust this past summer.  The links work even better on the Kindle Fire with the Pulse app I discussed a few paragraphs above.

When I say “most days,” there are just some days the Kindle experimental web browser fails to cooperate with any site: that’s why I also put the actual URL in the blog post in case the browser on your Kindle is acting up: remember, Amazon still calls the Kindle web browser “experimental.”

I can say my Kindle Touch doesn’t have a problem with the links, but then again I am usually on a WiFi connection vs. the 3G because most of the places I use all of my Kindles have Wi-Fi available and I have the names / password pre-loaded.  If there is a problem with the 3G connection, I haven’t experienced it in the Houston area, but it might be a problem in other parts of the country.  It could also be attributable to some of the 3G issues I’ve been reading about with AT&T and other carriers around the country over the last month and a half I have been reading about online, maybe Maria just has a bad Kindle Fire, but your guess is as good as mine as I don’t know.

The accountant in me can also speculate Amazon is purposefully blocking 3G web surfing on Kindles because they are the ones paying for it: I would block it, too, if I was paying for it.  If you think about it, when the regular Kindles were introduced, the free 3G capability was put in there for us to download books, blogs, newspapers, and other content we were purchasing from Amazon, not for a free device to surf the web because the data files for various website are big and cost a lot more to deliver than a 500k book (although I do it a lot of web surfing with my Kindle 3 / Kindle Keyboard when I am not at home).  Again, your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll go back to that “experimental” web browser phrase again – experimental to me means they can yank it at any time.

While I am in the guessing mood, because I don’t have an answer for Maria as I don’t work for Amazon, I can also speculate maybe it’s because – in my opinion – the Kindle Touch is really a poorly-designed device that was probably rushed to market.  I strongly dislike this first-generation Kindle touch device.  In comparison to every Kindle model that has come out before it (and I have owned them all) page turning is significantly slow or delayed, the interface is clunky and unresponsive at times, it restarts constantly, and is generally a pain in the neck to use and operate.  The only reason I haven’t sold it on eBay is because I use it as a test unit.

Addressing one of the last comments of Maria’s email which was probably what set me off in the first place, I disagree as a blog author it is my responsibility to address a technical problem that keeps my blogs from working on all Kindles.  I can only do that if I have creative and technical control of the software operating code of the Kindle device and updates to the same: if I had my way blogs would be available for subscription on the Kindle for PC, iPad, iPhone, iThis, iThat, BlackBerry, Droid, Fire, and every other device out there.

I can, however, provide workarounds, which is what I have been doing all along:

  • In addition to the link to click, I provide the actual URL you can type in to your computer if the link does not work within the experimental web browser of your Kindle.
  • As the Kindle Fire does not allow for subscriptions to that device, I have detailed a workaround to reading the blog on the Pulse app (click here or type in http://bit.ly/rSWjuj into your computer’s web browser to read on how to set that up).
  • You can read the blog with a computer on the Facebook, Twitter, or on the web with the links I mention above.
  • I am working on an easier alternative for Kindle Fire and DROID-device users: more on that toward the end of this month.

So, a rather long-winded answer to several emails.  I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly-scheduled programming.

Michael

Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week subscription!  Click here for the Amazon page for Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips or type in http://www.tinyurl.com/fkblog into your computer’s web browser.

Check out my new Kindle guide, Kindle Fire How-To Guide: Your Guide to Tips, Tricks, Free Books, and Startup.  You can check it out if you click here or type in http://amzn.to/firebook into your computer’s web browser.

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24 Comments

Filed under Kindle Tips, Misc. and Random Stuff

24 responses to “Answering Your Kindle-Related Questions

  1. Alice

    Michael-

    You do an AMAZING job with this blog!!! Please don’t let “Maria” and others like her stress you out – they are not worth it and are never satisfied. Most of us really admire and appreciate all the work and effort that you devote to us and this blog! Thanks and please keep up the great work!

  2. I don’t understand all the complaints. I subscribe to your blog but also get it through Facebook & my email. If one doesn’t work go to an alternative. Also, I found a $9.99 charge on my bank acct from Amazon. I emailed them asking them what the charge was. I apparently bought a book that at one time was free. I wasn’t paying attention. That happens to me a lot. Amazon was very gracious & offered to refund the money & remove the book which I chose to do. The Kindle is something fun to own. I have the Kindle 3 & the Fire. With Facebook, email & the Kindle plus Amazon’s broad policies to keep us happy theirs not a lot to get frustrated about. You can talk to Amazon in various ways so call them. Michael is offering a great blog. Its here only to enjoy. Keep up the good work!

  3. I think you answered Maria’s questions and issues quite nicely! I have a kindle fire and LOVE it, and if I have any issues (which has been rarely) with a link in your blog I always try it on my laptop. Especially if it’s a book I really want. I am thankful for this blog. I have gotten 100’s of books free that have brought me many hours of reading pleasure . Thank you!

  4. Ikati

    I just had to comment here.
    I love my Kindle for fiction and its been great getting all the free books from Amazon but for surfing the Net? No thanks.The keys are too small for comfort and the screen is even worse for magazines- and I HATE black and white for magazines.
    If I want to read blogs or magazines then its either my computer -with a decent screen or my Ipad.
    Maria needs to use the grey matter that God gave her.

    • Maria

      No need for insults or abuse, did I insult anyone? No. I never said that I wanted to browse the internet with my Kindle Touch. I know that it is not enabled to do so. The links that I cannot follow in the blog in 3G go to the Amazon Store. I should be able to access them and get to the store according to Amazon’s own policy, and I cannot.

  5. ShariWN

    I’ve got to say that I really never expected to get so many laughs from this blog. It is a good stress reliever after a long day at work, albeit at your expense. Michael you aren’t charging enough for these side comments. Thank You for sharing.

  6. Shannon Cardaronella

    Michael,

    Thank you so much for your blog! You do an excellent job. Your information has helped me obtain many great new books to read, for which I am grateful. I am sorry I haven’t told you sooner.

    Shannon

  7. Shelli

    You were most kind and helpful in responding to Maria’s…ummm…request/complaint. Your blog and information is fantastic and appreciated. Thank you!

  8. Michael,
    I appreciate the service you provide for all of us Kindle users. Without your daily emails I would probably be sitting on Amazon for a few hours a day looking for some new free books. Thanks for all that you do. Happy new year!!

  9. I have all the Kindles except the recent ‘new ones’ with the exception of the Kindle Fire which I love and THANKS to Michael have no problem accessing his blog(s) through many avenues: I can go to his blog here on Amazon, I get it on my Kindles (including my KF via the web) and my email which I also have on my Kindle Fire therefore giving me twice the access on my KF to many interesting and free books plus many great tips that have helped me navigate my way through the wonderful world of Kindles!
    This is one mind-blowing fantastic blog that I have belonged to for quite some time and will continue to belong to until idjits finally run him out of here. Which I pray never happens. Every month he repeats basic information for new comers, he is very honest when he says ‘this book may not still be available for free on Kindle’ so if somebody clicks on a book without checking the price, they have nobody to blame but themselves.That’s just a given, even with Kindles Top 100 Free Kindle Books, you had better be checking. Personally, I call that ‘Common Sense’ not sure what others call it :o]
    .
    Michael, I was one of your more verbal and strongest defenders on the boards about a week and a half ago against a woman who made an outrageous complaint against you. She didn’t have a tippy toe to stand on which is why I’m amazed that you are, once again being harrassed. Again, this was completely a software issue and the person just couldn’t grasp the mechanics of it even when you so kindly explained how it could be fixed, she still complained and she was under a free subscription-so many people tried to help her but she was hell bent on blaming you for her 3 days of having your blog on her phone and she couldn’t get it to work. HONESTLY!!!

    I have no experience with the touch but I don’t imagine it would take Albert Einstein to figure out that if you’re not getting your answer from the ‘vacationing blogger’ (I’ll address this later) then hit the Kindle boards, much of the same problems that Maria has had I was aware of and I don’t own a Kindle touch but I came across it on the boards, not about your blog but about accessing the web, problems with 3G, WiFi etc…

    I’d find it extremely difficult to believe that Maria hasn’t a clue about the Kindle Board since they’re highly ‘advertised’ in the Kindle section and also when she accesses her ‘account’ plus in many other venues. When she didn’t hear back from you because she obviously didn’t understand that you, like many of us, also take vacations, now I’m being snarky-I know the email had to have said something to the effect of ‘sorry, can’t respond-on vacation until___.

    Taking your frustration and anger out in such a rude and inappropriate way on Michael or any other *highly* paid blogger due to a hardware/software malfunction or ‘GASP’ suggestioning he’s ‘in bed with Amazon is actually the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. All because she didn’t hear back from a vacationing blogger? I’m wondering if this subscriber was still on her 2 week free subscription status? Not that it really matters but it suggests that she hasn’t had enough time to know your blog and all that you do.

    All kidding aside, learn to manage your frustration before sending out the nasty grams and educate yourself, chica! When your email comes back saying said x!@##$^&*% (her words, not mine) is on vacay, chances are he’s not getting your nasty gram and not just ignoring you. Educate yourself by going to the boards, ask some questions-I don’t even own a Touch and I knew there were some problems-from the boards.

    Michael, you’ve been a wonderful asset to so many of us and I apologize on behalf of those who spend their .99 cents per month and expect the world from you. I imagine that’s where you got all that wealth to take your family on a cruise from, isn’t it? Didn’t have a thing to do with the fact that you’re a hard working accountant? Yep, that .99 cents a month must have you rollin’ in the dough and therefore you deserve the nastiness of those who expect you to reply immediately, you SOB! Teehees!

    LOL, my God, that felt good to get off my chest! The very fact that she would use bad language is what set me off. I see so many people who get angry and nasty because they expect everyone else to solve their problems-immediately- instead of taking a higher road, and when someone does try to help them they get even snarkier! I’m a book blogger and I’ve had my share of the ‘not so nice emails from one fairly well known author who happens to be psychotic especially when a fairly well know blogger gives her a not so glowing review-and then does everything in her power to get you to change said review-from trying to befriend, to attempted bribary to down-right threats. Yeah, Scary situation, that was.
    So, I guess after seeing you get unfairly lambasted twice in as many weeks just made me see red because I know first hand what your blog has to offer and the people complaining have both been nasty, one of them attempted to debase your blog publically which just back-fired and then the cursing e-mail— all this because of hardware and/or software problems and have had nothing to do with your blog and have been out of your control. That’s a big part of why this response is so long, LOL and a tad bit ‘sarcastic’! The other part is that some people refuse to take any responsibility or they jump the gun and assume it’s ‘all your fault’ before they gather the facts. And that’s all I got to say ’bout that!

    Just between us, Michael, I’d pay a lot more than .99 cents for your blog :o]

  10. Cayce

    Michael, just want to say THANK YOU for all of the hard work you put into this blog! Kudos from a fellow accountant & Texan!

  11. Bev

    Oh Michael….. I deal with people like Maria all day long . Ü I get thru the day by saying everyday is an adventure. You provide a such a great service
    Please don’t let the grumps get you down. Bev

  12. Kristi

    I have to leave my HUGE THANKS as well as a contrast to your experience with Maria, and others who think like her. Most of us really appreciate your blog and the effort you invest to inform us of Free ebooks and tips for using our Kindles. Please don’t quit!

  13. Maria

    First of all I don’t have a Kindle Fire, I have a Kindle Touch.
    Secondly, I never said I wanted to browse the net. My only issue is that I cannot pick up books via your blog links in 3G. This is apparently because you formulate your links as amzn.to instead of amazon.com

  14. Barb C

    You do a great job, Michael! Thanks for all the emails from me that you have personally answered! BTW — the granddaughter LOVES her Kindle we gave her for Christmas. Not sure she actually READ anything, but she didn’t put it down for 4 days. And only then did she not have it in her hands because her parents had taken it over!!! Good times for sure!

  15. Vivian Latimer

    Michael,
    I love your blog and am so appreciative of all your wisdom and hints regarding the Kindle. The information on the free Amazon books is the icing on the cake. As an older lady who enjoys reading, the Kindle is a huge part of my life. I’m sure there are thousand of others who feel just as I do. Thanks again for taking the time to educate us.

  16. judith greene

    you do such a great job, extremely honest, positive and caring with your comments.

  17. toddh

    Dude – you are a saint! I can’t believe you have to put up with so much crap. Keep up the good work.

  18. Pat

    OMG – I think your blog is awesome – I am typically a lurker but your reply to Maria’s comments was so well done. Thanks for your blog, and your willingness to share your expertise.

  19. I know that I left a comment here, but I guess that it got deleted?

    Interesting.

    • Michael Gallagher

      Gwen-

      This is the first message I have seen from you!

      Regards,

      Michael

      • Wonder where it went.

        Michael, I think the problem with the Touch lies in the links. When you use a link shortener, it isn’t going directly to the amazon store first. I don’t know the terminology, but since it isn’t a straight up http://www.amazon.com etc. address, the 3G reads it as not okay.

        I don’t know how you work shortening your links, so I don’t know if it would be a royal pain for you to do it differently just to please a few whiners.

        The crazed anger of Touch users has really shocked me. I can understand being confused, but not the anger. Hope you can let it go, like water off a duck as my grandfather used to say.

  20. I replied to Maria and now I would like to just take a moment of your time to reiterate what everyone else has told you (besides Maria :-0 ). Thank you for doing what you do and for doing it so well. As Ms. Latimer stated above, I also am an older reader to whom the Kindle is a blessing – both for it’s light weight and free standing ability AND for the ability to increase font size! So Mr. Gallagher please hang in there!!!

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