Friday, June 18, 2010

Kindle Collections: Creation and book-transfer advice from Customer Service

In the Amazon forums, there's been no small elation over finally being able to organize Kindle books into user-customizable 'folders' of a type, named "Collections."

 It's easy to do but somewhat time-consuming if you have anything like 400-700++ books on the Kindle.  I had only about 200.  Well, they do encourage us to use the Kindle as a personal library and it's fun for that.

  Probably, best advice: Do Not work on more than 100 books at a time without turning on Wireless and doing a Menu/Sync & Check to make sure the work is backed up before working on moving more books.

About four people during the last few days reported that, while working on creating many collections for hundreds of books on the Kindle, at a certain point their Kindles suddenly restarted and the Collections they'd created were gone.  This shouldn't happen of course, but at least we've found that Amazon has two recovery methods for the Collections, as these are apparently backed up automatically when "Wireless" is On for awhile or when you decide to Sync & Check during a Wireless On session.

  (Remember that you can plug in the charger while working with or reading on the Kindle.)

1.   In the case of Chelsea S. Lewis, she received this response from Kindle customesr service:
' I'm so sorry for the issue you've had recently with your Collections after the 2.5 update for the Kindle.

You should be able to recover your Collections by simply de-registering and re-registering your Kindle to your Amazon account.

On your Kindle, visit the Settings screen from the Menu button and select the "Deregister" link.

Once your Kindle has been de-registered, select the "Register" link to re-register your Kindle to your account.  Your Collections should be restored.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If re-registering your Kindle doesn't resolve the issue, please give us a call. [all the information about calling again here]

I hope this helps.  We look forward to seeing you again soon.

[ Andrys here: I hope not for the same reason :-) ]

Best regards,

Jeff '
And, I assume, not THE Jeff   ;-)  but definitely a helpful one.

2a.  V. Thompson reported:
' I spent hours getting my 430 books from Calibre to my Kindle, into collections over the last two days. Finished them last night.  I ordered five new books, and turned on WN.  I got a funky message saying my Kindle was full and to delete items from home...

I spoke to CS this morning, he was baffled, and had me do a restart.  The last collection I created last night vanished and the 200 or so books I had put in other collections came out of the collections and were back on my home screen!
The CS rep said he was going to be checking it out, and V. started her collections again, but the same thing happened.

Ultimately, the next day, V. had to use a more serious tool -- one to be avoided by users unless they're being helped by Kindle customer service at the time, as this Menu choice removes your books from the Kindle -- but the Amazon books can be re-downloaded for your Kindle later while your non-Amazon books would normally be backed up to your computer so you can move them over later.  A step most of us would want to avoid at any rate.

  The more serious step?  CS had her Reset to Factory Defaults ... Since all her books were in the Calibre program, she went ahead and did that.

After that, the 5 new books did download fine and her original collections were all there. No books were  in them but she had her backups available and used them.

The advice to V was that too many books were moved from Calibre at once, probably overloading the Kindle, having it index too many new books at once (extracting all the words in all the books, for keyword searches).  The CS rep explained that we:
should not download so many books new to the Kindle at a time and to leave Wireless On and the Kindle plugged in while moving many books to the Kindle all at once.

He also explained that the indexing of keywords from so many new books can take a long time, 24 hours or more if you do a large batch of books.

  V. decided to move from the Calibre program no more than 100 books per session onto the Kindle and then leave the Kindle plugged in during the indexing of that many books.  She also did a Sync & Check from the Menu after doing each batch of approximately 100.

 She also chose to turn back 'On'  the Annotations Backup (also under the Menu).  V. explained that what she was told meant that the problem didn't occur due to sorting books into Collections but:
' loading up your Kindle with too many [new] books at one time.  If your books are all already on your Kindle and just need to be put in to collections you can do them all at once.
 I would do a sync when you are done though.  My problem was dumping 430 book from my computer on to my Kindle at once.  Well, in two batches, but I think it was just too much to process. '

Melinda Varian, a Kindle owner with vast technological experience in her background, whose advice I always read with interest, advises also:
' With all this discussion of lost collections, I think it's worth mentioning that when one restarts a Kindle with collections and it displays the home screen, that screen at first displays the collections as being empty.  After a minute or two, all is well, but it can be something of a shock at first.  I realize that people are actually losing their collections, but this situation is not a symptom of that. '

Chelsea later reported:
' As a further "pleased by customer service" note, Jeff From Amazon just called me again to ask me to e-mail him the "collections" file from my Kindle (it's in the system folder, which you have to unhide hidden folders and operating system files to see, and apparently it's where all your collections data is stored) and to ask permission for tech support to go messing around (remotely) in my Kindle looking for information on what might have caused the bug.

  He said there are a lot of people on the Kindle team currently working on troubleshooting this particular bug (though he said it hasn't happened to a lot of people, but clearly if it's happening to anyone it's a concern).  He also apologized about fifty times and said he was applying a $30 credit to my Amazon account for my trouble.  Which I just checked, and it's there.

So yeah, my feathers are officially unruffled now. Go Team Amazon! '
A nice ending, with good advice.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. I have no access to whispernet, so It seems I am not able to organize my books. Toe me this whould be a very basic functionality for an ebook reader. Why does Amazon makes it so difficult ans just group them via foldernames. I guess they did do it another way is to gather information from people.

  2. If you have a registered Kindle (if it's not you can phone them and have them register it), then you should be able to do the Collections but it would not be backed up at Amazon without access to Whispernet.

    Are you unable to ever get to an area where there IS Whispernet to do a Check & Sync to have the server sync your Kindle?

    To get the update, you would follow the instructions give to do it by computer (not wireless/Whispernet) at and then move it to your Kindle's root and run it.

  3. Although the collections option is a great idea, it would be even better if it could be used in archives. I don't appear able to do that - it doesn't show as an option for books there. It seems it can only be used in the home directory. I find it much too confusing to have collections in the home directory and still have the individual books floating around there.

    Is there a way to use collections in archives that I'm missing????

  4. harmony,
    Archives are where you keep already-read books and then they're not on your Kindle -- you've deleted it from the Kindle and they are only on Amazon servers for later download if wanted.

    Personally I'd back them up to computer (for the same Kindle as they're keyed to that Kindle) in case the publisher decides to withdraw the book from Amazon at some point.

    Archives are a ort of a resting place away from 'Home' They're just books residing on the server that you don't want on your Kindle. I think Amazon doesn't want to keep everyone's individually chosen 'folders' or tag-arrangements on their own servers -- they just list books for you to RE-download as needed.

    Amazon backs up your collection arrangements. If you wanted that book under 'mystery' then it would have been under 'mystery' collection and any other Collections you wanted while you were reading it when it was on your Kindle. Then once you re-downloaded it, it would go back into the mystery Collection on your Kindle.

    For cataloguing, go to and keep a genre or Collection-style listing on your computer to peruse. A lot of people are using that.

    Why would your individual books be 'floating around' -- the Kindle was meant to hold many books. If you sort your Home page by Collections at the top right you won't see any individual books floating around if you have them in collections.

    If you sort by Most Recent, Title, or Author, then yes, you'll see them, in the order you chose for sorting.

    The Archives aren't meant to be the active library-room from which you pull a book to read. The Kindle is. The archives are for books already read. It's a bit like the pasture for books you're read.

    Or, if you have two types of Kindles, the archive for one may hold books you wanted only for the larger Kindle etc.

    Archives are for books that are NOT on yuur Kindle at all.

    Is it that you only want to have 2 or 3 books on your Kindle at any time and have the others categorized? You do need the free Calibre then.

    Most of us use our Kindles as mini-libraries and that's their draw for us. If you sort by Collections you won't have to see the individual books floating on your Kindle though...

    I don't know if that helps but I hope it does later.

  5. Andrys,
    A collection holds a collection of books by, let us say, Margery Allingham. She wrote a lot.
    Is there any way I can get all the Allingham books which are on my Kindle (I have now bought two for it is a most amazing machine) into a collection at once. Or do I have to go through laboriously and do it one at a time.
    Gareth Powell in Australia where the weather is totally glorious

  6. gazza34,
    There are two ways to do it. The way you would do what you describe is to create a Collection for Ailingham and then ADD all books that belong there at one time.

    During the ADD process, the Kindle will show you all the books on the home screen and you can choose from them the ones you want included in that particular Collection.

    It's the 2nd method described at

    Let me know if it's unclear after you try it.

  7. why can't I create collections in my Kindle w/o wi fi? I don't need Amazon to keep a record of them -- I just want "folders" in my own Kindle to make it easier to find books. I load my books via USB, don't have wi fi at home, never use wi fi for everything -- WHY CAN'T I MAKE FOLDERS IN MY OWN KINDLE WITHOUT BRINGING AMAZON INTO IT? I spoke to customer service and they had no answers -- it was kind of, "that's just the way it is." I'm ready to throw it out and buy a Nook. This is the first problem I've had with my Kindle -- and I consider it a big one. Do I have to go sit in a coffee shop to create collections for my Kindle? who thought this was a good idea? P.S. I have my ebooks backed up on the hard drive of my computer, which itself has an online backup. Don't need help from Amazon there.


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