What Amazon Does Not Want You To Know About The Kindle

Did you know that there is a limit to the number of times you can download a book to your Kindle (whether that is the Kindle, kindle 2, Kindle DX, or Kindle App for iPhone)??  Neither did I.  My good friend Dan Cohen, however, learned this troubling lesson the hard way.  According to his post over at Gear Diary, Dan received quite a surprise when he tried to redownload a book to his Kindle App on the iPhone.  In a word, it would not download…at all.  He called customer support, and this is what he was told:

The customer rep asked me to send every one of the books in my library to my iPhone. Most of them gave the message that they were sent but a number of them returned the message that they could not be sent. “Oh that’s the problem,” he said “if some of the books will download and the others won’t it means that you’ve reached the maximum number of times you can download the book.”

I asked him what that meant since the books I needed to download weren’t on any device because I had wiped those devices clean and simply wanted to reinstall. He proceeded to tell me that there is always a limit to the number of times you can download a book. Sometimes it’s five or six times he said but at other times it may only be once or twice. And, here’s the kicker folks, once you reach the cap you need to repurchase the book if you want to download it again.

WHAT?!!?!?  Apparently, Amazon or the publishers have imposed an unadvertised download limit on every book.  What this means is that once you reach the download limit, you will need to repurchase the book if you want to download it again.  The problem, however, is that this download limit is not visible anywhere on the Kindle or on the Amazon website.  They do not tell you that there is a limit, what the limit is, or when you are nearing the limit. 

Check out Dan’s full article over at Gear Diary, in which he discusses his experience with Amazon, and even offers some suggested solutions to this snafu. 

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  1. #1 by Robert Nicholson on June 20, 2009 - 12:06 pm

    Why this would be a problem is when you’re shuffling your content around such that you need to remove books from your kindle because you need to additional space.

    So this so called “download limit” applies when you use your kindle from a computer using it as a USB mass storage device?

  2. #2 by dgoldring on June 20, 2009 - 1:09 pm

    Robert, we don’t have a whole lot of information about this. So far, all we know is that it applies to books you download from your Amazon library. Not clear whether it will affect things you transfer from your desktop or via using the Kindle as a mass storage device.

  3. #3 by ChristineMM on June 21, 2009 - 12:12 pm

    When Jeff Bezos was on the Oprah show in 2008 he said that once a book is purchased you can delete it off the Kindle and re-download it at any time later, that Amazon stores this ‘in inventory’ for you, so you don’t have to clog up your Kindle with every book you own. This was stated to explain that the Kindle would not run out of room, like Amazon has ‘virtual storage’ for your previously purchased book.

    Hearing that there is a limit is disturbing as that is a direct contradition.

    This really should be clarified in the terms of service and made very clear to Kindle customers.

    I was just discussing the Kindle at a party yesterday and when the person heard that you can re-download it later after ersasing it, she was thrilled and said that put her over the edge to buy one.

    I don’t own one yet but if they publshed more juvenile fiction and young adult books and more niche topic nonfiction I would seriously consider it. I borrowed one from a public library and it was fantastic to use. I was very impressed. It was nice to borrow one to test it out in real life.

  4. #4 by dgoldring on June 21, 2009 - 1:33 pm

    I agree, Christine. Personally, I love reading books on my Kindle. And to be honest, for my purposes, I tend to download a book and leave it there, and maybe on my iPod Touch as well. But I am not someone who constantly shifts things around.

    That being said,I don’t really care if Amazon has a policy limiting the number of downloads, but they do need to be up front about it. The most troubling thing for me is not the policy itself (though I do not agree with it) but the hidden nature of it.

    In my opinion, on the book description page, it should tell you how many \downloads you get with your purchase. Also, in your archives, they should indicate how many downloads you have remaining. This would be open with the consumers and easy to implement.

  5. #5 by Ed Falk on June 29, 2009 - 4:01 pm

    As usual, xkcd has a comic that addresses this perfectly: http://xkcd.com/488/

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