Death of a Kindle (is the Kindle Krap?)

On December 6, 2007, in Technology, by Administrator

Having just written a glowing review of the Kindle which I was going to post on the blog and on Amazon when I landed, I decided to relax and read for a little while. I was five pages into my book when I noticed that in the upper left hand corner of the page several words seemed to be “printed” on top of each other. Hitting the next page button crashed the reader and has since rendered it useless. I can browse the device and select a book or newspaper, but trying to read it brings up a dialog box that says “Unexpected Error” and a close button. I can still see my newspaper subscriptions showing up in the directory (including a note from the San Francisco Chronicle about being late today), but nothing can be read.

An email to the Kindle support team resulted in a reply the next day saying to call them. When I called, I was transferred around and literally told they did not know what to do with me. They needed to discuss at Amazon and determine if my device needed new software or if they would have to send me a replacement. They offered that they would call me back within 24 hours. If I need a replacement, I am hoping they retained some stock so that I don’t have to wait until after the holidays. I had planned on using the Kindle a lot to read papers and books while away for Christmas. I also hope they credit me for my newspaper subscriptions as the three I subscribe to are worthless to me if I can’t read them the day they are released.
Ironically, in a few weeks of owning the Kindle, this is the first time I was really relying on the device as I am on travel to the west coast. My Sony eReader was unstable enough I used to pack a real book as backup, but I didn’t do that with the Kindle. I hope I hear this is something that can be fixed with a remote software or firmware push so that I don’t have to buy a book at the airport for the trip back.

If anyone else has had this issue, please leave me a comment.

Update:  It turns out that posting about my troubles on Twitter and the TWiT channel on Jaiku is better than calling Amazon support.  They had the problem solved by the time I woke up.  Thanks all!


7 Responses to “Death of a Kindle (is the Kindle Krap?)”

  1. Jenny says:

    Thank you for posting this – my kindle is now happily restored from doorstop mode.

  2. Benn says:

    My Kindle was damaged– it’s still not clear to me how– and now the screen no longer works. But guess what? Amazon has quietly changed their policies in the last several weeks and will now no longer replace damaged Kindles. And to make matters worse, they do not have a repair program in place. So, a mere month after getting this for a 40th birthday present, I’ve got a $350 brick on my desk. Thanks, Amazon!

  3. Administrator says:

    Thanks for the update Brad. I think we’ve isolated that the device crashes and becomes inoperable if it encounters a high ASCII character. That was the issue I had with the book I downloaded as well, thought it was not downloaded from Amazon. It appears there may be some character that when converted makes the Kindle Krash!

    Hopefully Amazon will fix this and prevent other users from being frustrated (if they can get the device as others I know have been waiting for almost a month).

  4. Brad says:

    Brad here again – here is how my issue was resolved. After waiting three plus weeks for a replacement kindle, the new one had the same problem as the first. So, I figured it was a software, not hardware problem. Turns out the software problem was specific to one of the e-books (Terrorist by Updike). I removed that book via Content Manager, did a hard reset, and the problem went away. Amazon refunded the purchase price of the book. So, the replacement of the device was unnecessary. Too bad the Amazon support people did not figure this out on the first three support calls.

    p.s. that e-book is no longer for sale at Amazon – only the paper edition.

  5. Brad says:

    I had the exact same issue in the middle of a book. Two calls to support have not yielded an answer. Their promises of a prompt resolution were no kept. Like you, I had hoped to settle back and do some reading over the holidays. That’s shot now. If I don’t get an answer from Amazon by Wednesday, the whole thing is going back, with an insistence on a full refund of the may book purchases I have already made. Very disappointing.

  6. Administrator says:

    That worked! I didn’t know there was a reset button as I figured if there were that would have been the first thing that several tiers of Amazon Kindle support would have had me do.



  7. Steve Hemphill says:

    Did you reset it? Under the battery cover, there’s a little hole marked Reset. Poke a bent paper clip into that.

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