Monday, October 17, 2011

The Kindle Personal Document Enhancements - How it all works - Update from Customer Svc


  As many now know, since Sept. 30 and with the Kindle Keyboard software update to v3.3 on Oct. 13, Amazon has made notable, long-requested improvements to the Personal Documents feature, upgrading personal documents that you send to your Kindle, from 2nd-class status to having the regular features that Kindle books have.

See Update with email from Customer Svc.

Those first-class features include sync'g your reading between devices, having them archived at the Amazon servers, and showing their titles in your Kindle's Archived Items folder when the personal document is no longer on the Kindle, for future re-downloading to any of your Kindles as needed.  (You can also disable the archiving & sync'g features.)

Personal docs are, generally, any file that is not a Kindle book and they're usually files we've personally put on our Kindle -- either by transferring them from computer to the Kindle, via the USB cable that comes with our Kindle's power cord or by using our email to send the file to our Kindle (which is given a "Kindle email address" for that purpose, in the form  [your nickname] .

  For example: My Kindle 3 address is -- and no one can use it to send documents to my Kindle unless I approve that person's email address for doing that.  Approval for others to send docs to your Kindle  can be registered by you at your page.

Any file that we send to our Kindle by email goes to the Amazon servers where it is converted to Amazon format before Amazon gets it ready for download to the Kindle.

  Once you've made that special nickname-email address for your Kindle, you can specify that you want to send a personal file to your Kindle email address WITHOUT using the "3G" cellphone network feature.  Why? - because there is a 15c per megabyte fee to use 3G for sending personal docs to your Kindle.  (See 'What are "3G" and "WiFi?".)

  Amazon pays for 3G cell-phone type data-access and they charge back 15c per megabyte of a file for that reason.
   Sending files via WiFi networks doesn't incur a fee, as WiFi is local to us, in our home, or at work, or at a cafe or other public place that allows access to one, and Amazon doesn't have to pay for that.

   The new Basic Kindle with No Keyboard and No TouchScreen is WiFi only, so there's no way to incur a fee with that.

When would you find yourself using 3G instead of WiFi?
The Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and larger DX models use ONLY 3G  wireless access for downloading books or for going to the web.  The Kindle 3 (UK: K3) ("Kindle Keyboard") uses both 3G and WiFi.

Making sure you send the file for free
The TWO ways you can get the file to your Kindle without using 3G are:
  1. Send it to [your nickname[ (note the "free" part in the link) which will let you download the converted doc file or book using a WiFi wireless network at home, office, or a place like McDonald's or Starbucks instead of using 3G wireless  OR

  2. When Amazon notifies you that your converted emailed-file is ready for download but you have no WiFi network access, download it to your computer at the manageyourkindle page and then transfer the file to your Kindle by using the USB cable.  In the past we've been able to download it from the link given in the Amazon email-notice that the converted file is ready.

In both cases, you've emailed a personal document file to Amazon for conversion to Kindle format so that it can be on the Kindle.  That sending of the file:
  1. makes your personal doc eligible for the regular features which include sync'g between devices, archiving on the servers, and

  2. you can choose to download it to the Kindle via WiFi or to your computer via USB cable, specifically designated for your Kindle, as mentioned.

Instead of doing a PR release on the newer Personal Document features,Amazon sent an email on Oct. 14 to anyone who was "a past user of the Kindle Personal Documents Service"
'Your documents are now automatically archived in your Kindle library (you can control this from the Manage Your Kindle page at '
  That means that Amazon will back it up on their servers -- and this will be on a Kindle Cloud that can hold up to 5 gigabytes of your personal documents so that you can re-download them as needed at any time.
' Archived documents can be re-downloaded from your archive to the all-new Kindle and Kindle Touch devices, as well as Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3rd Generation--requires the latest software update v3.3 from -- you will be able to find and download your documents from any of these devices that are registered to your account. '
  I did see that a personal file I sent to my current Kindle Keyboard IS sendable from the manageyourkindle page, personal-documents section, to my Kindle 1, 2, and DX-Graphite as well as the later ones although the file doesn't show up in the "Archived Items" folder on those older Kindles nor do they seem to do sync'g (they're not said to be included for new features at this time anyway).

  It's good that we can download the personal docs to each and every Kindle though.
' Now (just as with Kindle books) Whispersync automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks and annotations for your documents (with the exception of PDFs) across devices '
They did not specifically mention Kindle 1, 2, or the DX for the whispersync'g or for downloading from those Kindles' Archived-Item folders rather than doing manageyourpage-sending to those devices.
' We expect to extend these features to Kindle Fire and Kindle apps (such as Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for Android, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for Mac) in the coming months '
That is definitely good news.
' You can control these new features from the Manage Your Kindle page at where you can see a list of your archived documents, re-deliver documents to your Kindle, delete any document from archive, or even turn off archiving for your account.

Learn more about the Kindle Personal Documents Service from our help pages at '

Examples of personal documents
  I often highlight items from webpages and copy them to Word docs and then send them later to my Kindle so I can read them offline.
  These will now be archived and redownloadable as needed and sync'able with my newer Kindles.

  Also, non-DRM'd *.mobi or *.prc books that you download from various free-book sites will be considered personal documents also.

  Question I have:  Is an instapaper, sendtoreader, sendtokindle, or readability document sent to your Kindle also kept on your Amazon server area?
  I haven't tested it.  Maybe some of you have and you can add your personal findings to the Comments area.

But I read one paragraph that I don't quite know how to interpret.  It mentioned that all this does not include documents that involve automatic distribution to your Kindle. (I'll have to find the wording again later.)

These will get the benefit of the features ONLY if a copy of a PDF is converted to an Amazon format, losing its original-layout but usually more readable if it's not a document with complex layouts.
  You can just send these to Amazon as you would any personal document BUT, for PDFs, you need to put the word "Convert" into the subject field or Amazon dosn't convert the PDF file to Amazon format but instead will let it through as is, since we often want to just have the original PDF and layout.

At "Managing Your Kindle Content page's Personal Document Settings, you'll see Whispernet delivery options.

  CURRENTLY, I was taken to this page for "Kindle Keyboard" options because right now it was the link used for costs incurred with current models -- the Kindle Touch models aren't released yet.

  The Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) has 3G (as well as WiFi) and, as we've noted, there are fees for that, although this page doesn't mention that there are NO fees for WiFi use instead, and this omission has confused people who felt they could find no free method.

  On that Kindle Content page, you'll see "Whispernet Delivery Options (for 3G Kindles only)
They use "Whispernet" on that page to mean 3G wireless sending.
  There they add:
' Whispernet delivery is disabled by default.  You can change your preferred Whispernet delivery option for personal documents by clicking "Edit" under "Whispernet Delivery Options" and enter preferred settings. Click "Update" to compete[sic] complete change. '
They show an example of (un)checking the box for
  "Enable delivery to my Kindle over Whispernet.  Fees apply."
REMEMBER that, here, "Whispernet" is used for the 3G use although they often say instead, "Whispernet with 3G support" -- so it is all quite confusing as the Help pages are going through changes.

But you'll note that you can ALSO, if you enable 3G sending, LIMIT the cost to you by specifying the maximum amount to be charged for a delivery. A normal novel can cost 15c but a large Pdf could be many times the size and cost.  So, those without WiFi in their area or with older Kindles that have "only" 3G wireless can still send over the air but it will cost you unless you DISABLE 3G-sending or "Enter a maximum allowed per document delivery charge" to equal $0.00 or whatever you feel is reasonable.

Kindle Cloud storage space in addition to Amazon Cloud space
Note that while all Amazon customers are given general Amazon Cloud space of 5 gigabytes for storage (and streaming, if in the U.S.), Kindle customers get an additional 5 gigabytes for personal documents.
  Kindles are able to store anywhere from 1.5 to 3.2 gigabytes of books, but you can keep most of it on the Kindle Cloud and the performance/speed of your Kindle will be better.

  Those who prefer privacy of their personal docs can just DISABLE personal document archiving on the manageyourkindle page.

  Personal docs that you put on your Kindle without sending them via email to Amazon will not be archived on the servers and they won't, then, be sync'd either, when you're reading them on various devices and apps.

Let me know where I've not been clear here or if you have personal experiences with sending personal docs that you'd like to share.  Many of us have long wanted to be able to sync our non-Kindle books and other personal docs and now there's free backup also, so this is all very good, although there seems a mountain of info about what's involved.

- I had written Amazon that the personal doc pages were confusing and got some interesting replies - the first one saying it would take them a couple of days to look at it to do a summary and then a reply by another person who gave some clear answers that confirmed my understanding.

Commenter Joe G, was hoping the interpretation was right (so was I) so I'll include most of what Amazon's CS emailed reply said.  (BOLD facing to highlight a point is done by me, not by the writer.)
' Hello,

I'm sorry for any misunderstanding regarding how our Kindle's Personal Document Service works.

To avoid a fee, ensure your Kindle is connected via Wi-Fi.

...Download of your personal documents from Archived Items is currently only supported on Kindle Keyboard [Kindle 3], Kindle and Kindle Touch... '

  As Joe said, many regulars found that they could not tell from current Help documentation what the fee situation was, as the clarity that was there before has not been there on the new pages, re how one might avoid fees via WiFi. This customer support statement is clear though.  Caution: It's from one customer rep but Janice V was unusually clear in her statements and I've no reason to believe that there is any fee associated with WiFi accessing of personal documents.

Janice V. added the following, which I've seen on the help pages but which also may be of interest to readers here>
' Documents must be 50MB or smaller.  No more than 25 attachments can be sent in one e-mail. If you're sending multiple files, you can compress them into a single zip file.

If you choose to not archive your documents and your Kindle is not connected wirelessly, we store your document for 60 days and attempt to deliver to your Kindle once it restores wireless connectivity.  Personal documents not delivered within this time period will be deleted. '

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
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  1. Thanks for this post, Andrys! I spent over half an hour this weekend trying to determine in what ways Amazon might or might not charge for this service and what it will do. It seemed like what you're saying is correct, but I didn't feel confident due to some mildly confusing and contradictory language on the Amazon site. I even started a thread about it on the Amazon Kindle community called "Cost of New Personal Documents Storage Service?" and the people who replied weren't real clear either after the recent changes.

    If your interpretation is correct, this is an awesome service and a huge differentiation from the competition, if Amazon can figure out how to communicate it clearly. A personal documents syncing service with advanced features bookmarking and note-taking feature?

    Another point I'm not clear on: Is PDF conversion free (if 3G is not used)?

  2. Joe,
    Thanks for letting me know it helps.
    I did find a page that specifically said that there were no charges for sending by WiFi though I lost the page (I kept losing my place because there are so many variations on each page (!). It was dizzying.

    I did send feedback to Amazon that they need to make this all clearer. It took a really long time to put together.

    I agree it's an excellent feature.

    PDF conversion is free, yes.

    I usually keep the original on the Kindle so I can check the layout of diagrams etc. but I like getting a converted copy because I then get all the Kindle features on it and the fonts are bigger :-)

    That works mainly on less complex pdfs of course.

  3. In response to your question about how the new changes to the Kindle personal document service handles documents from send-to-kindle services such as Instapaper or Readability, such files are indeed archived. That could become a little annoying, considering how often I use such a service to send web articles to my kindle to read. With the myriad uses people have come up with for the Service, Amazon will probably have to add some sort of filtering options to control what is and isn't archived. But even if they don't it is still worth it to have archiving and Whispersync on all my Project Gutenberg books.

    Also, is the archiving service meant to work with files transferred over USB or is it just for documents sent via email? The former did not seem to work in my test. I won't mind it much if it isn't as that is just one more reason to use email rather than USB to send documents. But if it did work on files transferred over USB then that would mean Amazon can upload files directly from the kindle. Which idea I like as I was hoping this whole thing would be recursive and I would not have to resend and reorganize every personal document that I want archived.

  4. Timothy,
    Thanks for the info on Instapaper and Readability. Maybe you could 'enable' archiving ONLY when you purposefully send yourself personal docs/books?

    I agree re the Proj Gutenberg books.

    Re USB transferred docs, I did try to make that clear. These new features are only for files you intentionally send to Amazon.

    They're not going to sift through our files and just take them up to the service.

    There'd be an outcry. And, to sync your files they have to have a copy on their servers. This way they ignore what you maybe decide is private.

  5. Andrys,

    In your analysis, you mention the following: "Kindles are able to store anywhere from 1.5 to 3.2 gigabytes of books, but you can keep most of it on the Kindle Cloud and the performance/speed of your Kindle will be better."

    This is the first reference I recall seeing that declares there is a relationship between Kindle speed/performance and amount of content.

    I've had the feeling for awhile that my Kindle is getting slower and I wondered if this might be the case.

    Can you point to any information or studies that quantify this phenomenon?

    Thank you.

  6. ony,
    Every single book is indexed for keywords. There is a way to re-do the index that can take hours to a day and then performance is better (it's not defragging, which is not recommended)).

    When you load the home page, an array of all the titles is loaded into memory so it's easy to jump to anywhere in the long list of titles to get to, say, the titles starting with 'M' if you press 'm' and then click the 5-way (when sorting by 'title' ...

    I suspect a lot is not released from memory to ensure that they can be readily accessed later. The 'Back' button works going way back in a session, so the session history is being kept so that people can go back to older points.

    I've seen responses from Kindle Team on the forums that indicate there is a performance hit when there are tons of books on a Kindle, and they've recommended that if you want speedier access you shouldn't fill the space with books.

    I haven't studied it, but I've experienced it :-) But I like to carry encyclopedias around, so, lots of keywords.

  7. This new feature is great. And when Amazon will enable sync'ing for Kindle Apps that will be even nicer.

    Things I wait/hope for:

    1. Personal docs sync'ing for Kindle Apps.
    2. Sending a personal document to Amazon directly from Kindle or a Kindle App.
    3. Specifying a keyword in the email title to switch between storing in the cloud or only converting and sending back to Kindle (just like "convert" for PDFs).

  8. And what about my latest generation DX. I see any software update coming !?

    Choosing a DX instead of a Kindle3 seems a bad choice as DX doesn't seems to be updated along with the rest...

    or am I missing something

  9. Peter,
    You're missing only seeing the comments to the latest software update which had a few siilar reactions from some of us DX owners. But I think the may come. On the other hand, I can be overly optimistic.

  10. Re performance it can help to back up 'my clippings' to your computer and then delete it. This file is indexed, too, so every time you create a note/highlight/bookmark, it triggers indexing, and the bigger the file is, the longer it takes. And it seems to take longer just to add new notes etc. as it gets larger. So starting fresh may help.

    An interesting application of Personal Documents would be to send a snapshot of My Clippings (e.g. name it 'kindle3 clippings 15Oc52011.txt') to your Kindle email address for archiving and reference. That way you could still keep all notes you've ever made on your kindle without impacting performance.

    It's not clear whether will at some point include Personal Documents highlights. So it will be more important to backup My Clippings periodically if you make annotations to PDs. Otherwise the only access you'll have is by opening the book and viewing them there.

  11. Tom,
    That's a great tip re Clippings file and I would add a 6-digit-date to mine.

    Re uploading it to Personal Documents Archive? Another good idea. I would run it through that professor's macro first (Windows only) to get it sorted by book instead of chronologically. Will try this out.

  12. Hey Andrys,

    I use the personal documents daily for SENDtoREADER, Instapaper and KindleRSS. And yes I do keep the archiving feature OFF until I want to archive a real book or document, like books I buy from Baen or Smashwords. I turn it on, archive, then turn it off again.

    I don't mind having to turn off/on, but (I think someone else mentioned this) I think it would be cool if we could prepend "Archive:" in the subject of the email if we wish it to be archived, otherwise it won't be.


  13. Krista,
    That's a GREAT idea. Hope you and others are sending it to !

  14. Andrys,

    I hadn't thought of it, but since you suggested it... I did! Here's what I wrote:

    I use the personal documents service daily to send long web articles to my Kindle with SENDtoREADER and Instapaper. Since those are just articles that I want to read and delete, I am keeping the archiving feature OFF until I want to archive a real book or document, like books I buy from another website like Baen or Smashwords. I turn it on, archive, then turn it off again.

    I don't mind having to turn off/on, but I think it would be cool if we could prepend "Archive:" in the subject of the email if we wish it to be archived, otherwise it won't be. This would be similar to the "Format:" feature that Amazon uses to reformat .pdf and .doc files into Kindle format before sending it to our Kindle. That way we can choose the things we intend to archive but not an all or nothing feature.

    Thanks for listening!


  15. Sounds good, Krista, and I'm glad they're getting that feedback from you.

    I'd add that their default for sends on all but PDFs is to Convert to the Kindle format of course. Rather than have people specify "Convert" on everything (since most people wouldn't even know it was needed), they automatically do it unless it's a PDF and for those you have to specify "Convert" in the subject line.

    They want the default to be to Archive personal docs ("enabled") but the exception might be a possibility -- as in
    "No-Archive" ...

    That's essentially the same thing and I hope they hear you (I actually think they'd consider it, because it makes so much sense and it's easier to request an exception instead of enabling and disabling archiving).

  16. With the new update for Kindle for iPad and iPhone, people with only kindle app are able to have personal documents to. It means that you are able to ad your own ebooks to personal documents, and have your notes and annotations synced between fx. iPad and iPhone, like you can on Apples iBooks.

  17. Personal documents are not view-able on the Cloud Reader or on the Windows 8 App. :(
    Of course documents on the local PC can be viewed in the desktop Kindle for PC.

    Docs can be uploaded to the Amazon Cloud drive, but they must be downloaded before viewing, not viewed from the cloud.

    So the read anywhere promise is fully supported only for content purchased from Amazon, not for .mobi files obtained from other sources, and especially not for large .mobi files.

    1. PB
      ? I am 'here' and I can download from my Amzn cloud immediately any .mobi file I've put on the Cloud and of course can then read it right 'here' and so the read anywhere feature works. Not only that, I can annotate it, and my notes are, with my permission, backed up to my Amzn.server area at where I can browse them or even share them if I want. These .mobi files' last-page-read are also sync'd with my other devices. Try that with any other ebook vendor's hardware or software on non-vendor-store items.

    2. Andrys, if it is a personal document and it was NOT purchased on, you cannot see it in the Kindle Cloud Reader. This is what PB meant.

      If it is a book bought at, than yes, you are correct, it can be downloaded to any of your devices or viewed through Cloud Reader.

      This is a big bother for me, too.

    3. To Anonymous (Why don't some regulars use at least a nickname?)
      Here's the thing. Amazon did not say 'Read anywhere' using ANY app and immediately. It said they'd make them readable anywhere.

      So, as PB says, yes, personal docs must be downloaded first to a device, but the 'promise' doesn't say it always appears out of the air.

      On my Kindle Fire, with Amazon's silk browser, if I want a personal document from the Cloud because I no longer have it on my tablet, I can access the Web and 'Manage Your Kindle' -with- that tablet -- and instantly tell it to deliver whatever document I have there, such as a travel itinerary, TO my device. It's there in a few seconds. Then I can read it. And I haven't moved.

      What PB describes is true -- first you have to download it (this is not at all painful -- in fact, in the history of computers, when you ask to read something from a website, it IS 'delivered' to you to a temporary area, and you read it from where you are if you want.

      But 'anywhere' I have access to WiFi, I can read a document I put in my Amazon archives on the Amazon servers. I just tried it again to make sure it wasn't some arduous experience.
      It was a matter of seconds and done before I could exit out of the webpage.

      I'm not sure what the point is. As I said, and I'll repeat, as 'fully'-supported, meaning one does not even have to download it first, does not impact that you CAN read it anywhere.

      You cannot STREAM it anywhere. So, once more, with regard to the 'promise' not supported:
      "I can download from my Amzn cloud immediately any .mobi file I've put on the Cloud and of course can then read it right 'here' and so the read anywhere feature works. Not only that, I can annotate it, and my notes are, with my permission, backed up to my Amzn.server area at where I can browse them or even share them if I want. These .mobi files' last-page-read are also sync'd with my other devices. Try that with any other ebook vendor's hardware or software on non-vendor-store items."

      What PB 'meant' is that you can't read it from the app FROM the Cloud. That was acknowledged the first time I replied -- I said it had to be downloaded first, yes. We agreed on that. The only thing we don't agree on is the that you can't read it where you are (that was the promise) without first turning on your device and having a working fast WiFi connection. In each case, the material must be 'delivered' to you - whether in a stream or as a full file you can read on your device.

      I agree it's not 'fully supported' because you do have to get it down in whole rather than streamed a few bits at a time. But there was never (that I remember) a 'promise' that you could just read it without having to 'get' it first, via the WiFi, whether in whole or parts at a time.

      My question is: where else is anyone even trying to do anything this flexible and fully-featured as described?

  18. Hello Everyone,

    Is there anyway at all to copy, paste and a save highlights and notes from a personal document in a from a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 to a Ms Word. doc. I have searched and searched and thought I had found the solution with, but they don't support my Kindle. I have Evernote, but really don't know how to use it very well, and don't know it can be done with it anyway. This is concerning a personal document, not an Amazon e-book.

    Feeling frustrated.

    1. Nancy, we all get 5 GB of free Amazon server (or 'Cloud') space in our areas, for personal documents to be stored and to be used by Amazon to collect annotations for these non-Kindle books to sync them with other devices. But Amazon doesn't back up the annotations on personal documents to the highlights page (which apparently is used only for Kindle books).
      There are some arduous workarounds. See:



      The #2 method uses the SHARING (with Twitter) feature rather than highlighting/notes and you'd want to make a private Twitter account to fill with these. Interesting workaround. Also, you'd need Trello (which I've never tried).

      Sorry I don't have better news than that...

  19. Hi Andrys,

    I have left three detailed replies, but this system keeps erasing them and asking me to sign in again, and I don't want to do it again. Thanks for the help.

    Smiles, Nancy

    1. Nancy -- Sorry for the problems from Google's comment software. Note that in the "NOTE:" below for commenters, the "Technical Problems?" part. That explains how to get past that kind of problem, but it shouldn't even happen.

      Thanks for trying as you did. I hope things work out for you. You can also post to when you have a question or any kind of feedback. I'd like to know how you are doing with this when you have time.


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