I discovered yesterday that my decision to sell my e-ink Kindle and get a Kobo Vox had an unfortunate and unforeseen side effect—Amazon won’t let me back up my books anymore!
I noticed when I did some tidying up this morning that my books on the ‘manage my Kindle’ page no longer had a ‘transfer via USB’ option and assumed it was a momentary glitch. But, following a chat with another user on Mobile Read who confirmed she had this option still, I contacted tech support.
I was told to my horror that Amazon only allows this option for people who own a hardware Kindle! If you read on a tablet, phone or off-brand ereader, Amazon only allows you to download from the cloud; you can’t download an actual file directly.
This is unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, Amazon cannot always guarantee you access to their cloud. I remember when my account got hacked one time, and they decided to unilaterally close it! I was able to get access back later by a special dispensation from a level 2 support rep, but that was only by asking for it. Otherwise, I would have lost access to all my books!
Secondly, I do require a backlit device for my current needs—but Amazon won’t sell me one. Their only backlit device is the Kindle Fire, and it is only for sale to Americans. If they would have sold me one, I would have happily bought it. My Vox is humming along nicely, but given how heavy an Amazon user I am, their tablet probably would have been easier. Alas, I am geographically undesirable, so I bought a competing brand. And Amazon is punishing me for it by holding hostage my books.
The solution the customer service rep gave me? Pay the hundred bucks to buy a hardware Kindle, or content myself with a 100% cloud-based life. Unacceptable! I did discover a workaround, which I won’t spell out for fear they’ll close the loophole on me. So, for now, my Kindle ebook purchasing can continue. But I wanted to warn others who are thinking of trading in their hardware Kindle for the growing horde of multifunction Android/iThing toys. Amazon won’t let you download your books anymore!