Kindle General FAQ 2012
This FAQ is for general Kindle related questions. You may also want to check our hardware specific faqs for Kindle Wi-Fi 2011 and Kindle Keyboard.
Section 1 - Kindle Hardware
Q. What is the Amazon Kindle?
The Amazon Kindle is an electronic device for reading eBooks (electronic books) which uses a special kind of display called E-ink . Such devices are commonly called eBook readers whose primary purpose is to replicate as closely as possible the experience of reading a traditional printed book. The Kindle also has advanced functionality including web browsing and text-to-speech.
Q. Why is the Kindle display only in black and white?
The display uses a technology called E-ink which is very different to LCDs found on monitors, phones and the iPad. This technology attempts to closely resemble the appearance of real ink on paper and at present is only available in black and white, although in the future, colour e-ink displays may be available. The display does not include a backlight because e-ink is a reflective technology (where light is reflected from the screen in the same way that light is reflected from paper).
Q. What is E-ink?
E-ink is a method of creating screen content using black and white microscopic particles. When electrically charged they move up or down depending on the type of charge – positive or negative. This type of screen content can be read in daylight, a problem with most screened devices. Your new Kindle uses a second generation of e-ink called Pearl display, making it even clearer. Screen burn is not an issue because the display does not use phosphors. E-Ink is bistable... it requires no power except when refreshing... so even when there appears to be nothing on the screen you're still staring at an "image" (a blank one).
Q. What is the screen made of and how do I clean it?
The screen is made of impact resisting thermoplastic. Clean the screen with a soft cloth; be careful not to wipe it with anything abrasive. A cover will protect it from scratches.
Q. Can I read my Kindle in the dark?
The Kindle does not have a backlight due to the e-ink technology used for the screen, so you will need a light source in order to read. Think of the Kindle as a real book - if you can't read a real book in the dark, then you cannot read the Kindle in the dark.
Q. What is 3G?
3G is a mobile telecoms service which allows access to the internet at much higher speeds than traditional GPRS systems. Essentially this allows a 3G device such as the Kindle to access the internet remotely (like a mobile phone) at near broadband speeds.
Q. Should I buy a 3G enabled Kindle?
Based on current pricing and service terms, if you can stretch to a 3G model, this is highly recommended as it will enable you to access books and the internet whilst you are away from home or commuting and currently this is completely free of charge with the exception of having personal documents delivered.
Q. Can I use 3G abroad?
Yes, 3G coverage is available in over 100 countries worldwide which covers most popular holiday destinations and major cities.
Q. Can I charge my Kindle in the car?
It is possible, but you would have to obtain a USB 12 volt connector that fits your cigarette lighter socket. There is no guarantees with this; whilst it should be OK, it could damage your Kindle battery.
Section 2 - Using the Kindle
Q. Can you read whilst your Kindle is charging?
Yes,, you can read your kindle when it is charging, whether plugged into your PC or into the mains charger. The Kindle will continue charging whilst you are reading, but be careful not to yank out the cable!
Q. Can the Kindle read PDF files?
Yes, the Kindle natively supports PDF files, although the readability of these is somewhat subject to the quality and format of the original PDF file. You can transfer PDF files either by USB (connecting your Kindle to your computer) or by sending an email to your @kindle.com email address. If you add the word convert in the subject line, Amazon will attempt to convert the document to a more readable Kindle specific format for you.
Q. Can I buy books from Amazon.com if I am in the UK?
You can temporally transfer your account to Amazon.com to buy a book from that source, but the saving is negligible.
Q. Do I have to buy all my books from Amazon?
No, the Kindle can read many different types of eBook from a variety of different sources, however if these are not in .mobi format (Kindles native eBook format) then they will need to be converted first. There are many sources of eBooks on the internet both free and paid. We have forums for these sources : Free eBook Sources and Commercial eBook Stores
Q. Can you have the same books on two Kindles?
It is possible to share an account so that whatever is on one Kindle is also on another. Provided two people have similar tastes, it is quite permissible to both have the same content and if one party orders a book, the other party will receive it also. It is possible to de-register from your own account and register with a friend's account, then download their books, remembering, of course, to re-register with your own account again afterwards. This is not a practice that is recommended you carry out too often. Also bear in mind that Kindle only allows a finite number of downloads per book, typically 5-6, but this varies with publishers etc. You should only share an account like this with your partner or a relative as they may have access to your payment details or other private data.
Q. Where, other than Amazon, can I get free ebooks?
There are a number of sources. which we have listed here: Free eBook Sources. Some books may need to be converted to a format suitable for your Kindle. See the separate entry relating to Calibre for this.
Q. How do I convert books to and from other formats?
The easiest way to convert books to and from other formats is using a free piece of software called Calibre. Calibre will help you convert most popular formats including .epub, .lit eBooks and also word documents, html files and much more. Calibre alone cannot convert eBooks with DRM (digital rights management) copy protection. To find out more about Calibre, we have an official thread here: Calibre. There are also other utilities which help with conversions and you can find there here: eBook Tools and Utilities
Q. How can I get documents from my PC onto my Kindle? (and vice-versa)
Much the easiest way is to connect to your Kindle to your computer. Using Windows Explorer, or a similar file manager, you will find that your Kindle appears as a separate drive. Click on this and you will find various folders. To transfer to your Kindle, simply drag or 'copy and paste' your items into the documents folder. Books bought from Amazon via your Kindle are transferred directly on to your device.
Q. How do I get my collections to stay in order at the top of the home screen?
It is possible to sort folders/collections into the order you prefer. You need to prefix the name with a symbol. Press key SYM.
# Current Reading
## Read Books
They would always appear in that order on home screen, as the kindle is sorting by symbols first. It is also possible to fix the order of books in a folder by using Calibre to change the title (metadata) of a book for example;-
If you had a series of books designed to be read in sequence , make title of book '1 Title of 1st in sequence' next '2 Title of second in sequence'. You could prefix the title by the year published to sequence a list of one authors work.
Q. I accidentally bought a full book via the sample, can I cancel it?
You have the option to cancel a purchase from your Kindle immediately after it was completed in case you change your mind or make a mistake. After you click "Buy" you will see a thank you page that gives you the option to either return to the store or cancel the order. Use the select wheel to cancel the order, if desired. If the option to cancel the order is no longer available, you can also contact Amazon Customer Service via e-mail or phone by clicking one of the Contact Us buttons on any Kindle Support Help page on Amazon.com. After a purchase is cancelled, the item is removed from your Kindle and a refund will be issued to the payment method used for the original purchase.
Q. If I delete a book can I get it back?
Amazon keeps a list of the books you order and you can send it to your Kindle again by going to Amazon/Manage your Kindle and find the list of orders. It is suggested that you also back up your Kindle to your PC every so often by copying its content to a new folder.
Q. Where can I get further support for my Kindle
If you can't find what you are looking for on our forum, then you can check Amazon's Kindle support documentation
Q. Can I change the dictionary on my Kindle from American to English (or vice versa)?
Yes, you can. Your kindle (UK issue) comes pre-loaded with the Oxford English Dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary. By default your kindle uses the American version for providing definitions, etc. You can easily change the primary dictionary by following these steps.
1. From the Home page, press menu and select settings.
2. When in the settings page (registration, device name, etc) press menu again and select Change Primary Dictionary.
3. Your dictionaries will be listed and you select the one you want and press the square button to confirm.
Q. I sent a personal document to my Kindle by email - will Amazon keep it in my archive?
If you have a Kindle released from 2011 onward this will automatically happen and personal documents sent by email will be kept in the Amazon cloud for later download. If you have a Kindle Keyboard with firmware before version 3.3, you will need to update your firmware first : see here