Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to reset the "furthest page read" on Kindle devices sharing a book

Commenter Paxton posted the following question yesterday:

Q: "a general question: do you know of a way to reset the "furthest location read" on a book? E.g., if I finish reading a book and my wife wants to read it, she gets a message asking if she wants to go to my furthest page read (the end of the book). But she wants to read the book and sync it with her iPod or PC - how can we get rid of "end of the book" as the last location, and reset it to the beginning?

  I know I can call CS, but would like to know of there's a way I can do it myself. And I'd rather not get involved with turning off suncronization on the web page, as that might get rid off the last page read for any number of books I'm currently reading (or she is)."

A: [Shortened]  "My only experience with this, and it's happened a few times lately because I test ahead, is that when I answer No -- that I don't want to sync to my furthest page -- it doesn't seem to ask me again after that if I make sure my other copy of the book on another device lines up with the earlier page on the current book.
  But I don't keep track of what happens when I go back and forth except that I don't remember being asked a 2nd time and right now I'm keeping 3 devices going with sync & chk on.

Paxton wisely questioned Amazon Kindle Customer Support next and posted the following thorough answer on the Amazon Kindle forums.  You can go there to see the follow-up questions and feedback there.
' Paxton says:
I just finished a book my wife wants to read next. We have a few Kindle devices, so I have synchronization turned ON on the Manage Your Kindle web page. We don't tend to read the same books at the same time.

When my wife started reading the book, it asked if she wanted to go to the furthest location (the last page of the book, which is where I left off). Obviously, she would not want to do that. When I finished the book, I had gone back to the beginning and saved that position, but it still listed the end of the book as the furthest page read.

We could turn syncronization off so it wouldn't ask her that each time, but then she wouldn't be able to sync between her Kindle and the iPod Touch or PC as she's reading through the book.

So I sent an email to CS and they sent me the answer - when you sync a device, that page gets stored on Amazon's servers for that device.
  The "furthest page read" is not the furthest page ever read on any of the devices, it is the highest page number currently active across all your devices.  [Emphases mine]

I had forgotten that I had looked at a note at the end of the book from my PC using the KindleForPC app. So that device had the highest page number across devices. So the solution is - on each device where you've read some of the book in question, go to the cover page (or TOC [Table of Contents] or wherever), then out to the Home screen and click the menu option to "Sync and Check for Items". Once this is done across all those devices, the "Furthest page read" will be the cover page, and the next person to read the book on your account will be able to sync across devices to the current position that they are reading.

A Kindle device probably won't go to the cover page when the book is opened - it will usually go to what the publisher has defined as the "beginning". [Andrys here: I'm pretty sure that this is because covers tend to be image pages and would take longer to load, and loading of a cover page is then done mainly upon request]  At any rate, it will be at the start of the book if you set everything back to the cover. Note that you can set this last page to any position in the book that you wish, not just the beginning. '

Good, clear answer from Kindle (UK: K3) Support.  Thanks to Paxton for following up on this and providing this report.

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  1. This is a complicated solution to a common and simple issue. Yet another example why ebooks still can't beat paper books. Ebook readers are designed by/for tech-oriented types, not normal people, and it shows. How about a feature in Kindle software that says, "Start From Beginning"??? This would tell all devices to reset to page one.

  2. That's because some -choose- to sync their devices so that they can have the latest on each and some are not Kindles.

    In this case it was a Kindle and it belonged to his wife It's tricky. Software lets you 'go to' the "beginning" and then you Sync & Check and it tells the server that this page is now your furthest page on this device.

    When you open the other device, it realizes you're at two different points with two different Kindles and asks you if you want to go to furthest page or not.

    Your suggestion would be an additional command since they already have the single-device 'go to' "beginning"... But that works if you open up your book and turn on wireless and sync it so that your servcer area at Amazon knows. It's not just the devices -- the Amazon servers also have to "know" and be in sync to manage the sync'g and it likely should not be done w/o the 'approval' of the person opening that device. It could be you with two devices or a relative or friend who might not like being surprised like that.

  3. I agree it's tricky, but that's the problem. A common situation like this shouldn't be tricky for the user at all. A company as large as Amazon should have plenty of resources to build products that aren't tricky.

  4. Bryan, that would be the ideal world, wouldn't it.

    Right now it's the e-reader that functions in syncing most capably, by all reports.

    It's a more-than-good idea to make sure the other person reading does not have his/her page changed because of a decision by another person.

  5. The solution actually makes sense when you think about it. I'm not sure what an "easier" solution would be, that couldn't sometimes surprise or aggravate other users on the account.

    Sometimes when people think of easier solutions, they are skipping parts of the actual problem and can cause other problems!

  6. Stella, I agree completely ... as a programmer (not for Amazon!), one of the bigger challenges I face when designing solutions is neither breaking other solutions nor causing other problems. It's too easy to focus only on the issue at hand and then roll out a solution with unintended consequences.

    One such solution would be to ask the person using the reader who they were when opening a book. Alice and Bob share an e-book: when Bob opens it, he clicks "Bob" and goes to location 2100. He reads to location 2350 and stops ... Alice picks up the book, clicks "Alice" and goes to location 1600. She reads to location 2715 and stops. Easy enough.

    But what about one-person households? Now they have to click on their name every time they open a book, even though they're the only ones reading it. Needless overhead: not a good solution for them.

    Fine, we'll have an option to retrieve a person's bookmark by request, so a one-person household won't have to use it. But what happens if you start reading without retrieving your bookmark? Well, we can give the reader an option to save over an existing bookmark ... but then what if Alice clicks Bob's name by mistake and saves over his place?

    Well, we can ask the user to confirm that they're overwriting a bookmark ... but now, to save a particular user's place, they have to get to the menu, click Save Bookmark, click the right user, and click to confirm, where before they simply had to close the book! And now we have to manage users too ...

    All too often, it's easy enough to picture the solution we want from the user's perspective, but very difficult to design a complete solution that does exactly that and no more.

  7. zlionsfan,
    Re breaking other solutions, that's the main concern... After Amazon's 'deletion' furor and their reformed policies, the last thing they'll want to do is change anyone's anything without their express permission or request via software. But the overhead described to cover all situations... too true.

  8. Can't answer comments until this weekend otherwise but wanted "Anonymous" to know that the link to weblinks for Kindle that s/he mentioned but which is not posted here has a website linked to that, perhaps by coincidence, caused a blogger's Kindle to never wake up again, so I'm not mentioning the given link until that's clarified. Thanks.

  9. I had high hopes this would work, but sadly it does not. I'm rereading a book, and my iPhone tells me my iPad is at the end, and on my iPad, it also tells me that my iPad is at the end. I've gone to the start, synced, said No to jumping to the end, gone back to the kindle home screen, synced, reopened the book, and when I sync, it still says that the iPad is at the end. (this is on the iPad). I've even done the same steps adding in an archive of the book, a sync, and un-archiving the book. It is pretty sad when I can't even reset it on the same device.

  10. BenK,
    That would be evidence the program is not working as they planned, so you should report this to kindle-feedback@amazon.com (and also kindle-response@amazon.com if you're using the latest Kindle 3 with updated software).

    I hear that they may be able to reset it for you in the app (but I don't know that).

    They need to know about your experience though. Good luck.

  11. Even more complicated...but it seems to work...


    As for possible solutions...how about letting me choose which Kindle devices to sync together, instead of an all or nothing solution. Then if I choose to re-read a book after a time, it would prompt me for an option. "It has been xyz days since this last sync...do you wish to go to that place or start from here?"

    Just my 2 cents.

  12. Andrys - a solution updated on a few forum posts:

    - turn OFF syncronization from Manage Your Kindle. Remove book from other devices except this one.

    - go to page you want to keep. Go back to home page.

    - Paxton

    - Turn syncronization ON from the Manage Your Kindle page

    - click Menu/"Sync and Check for New items" from the home page of your Kindle

    - Go back into book to verify you are on correct page.

    Other devices should now see that as the furthest page read.

  13. Paxton,
    Thanks for taking the time to come here to update that information. I'll add that in an update this week.

    The other worked for me, probably because there were no other Kindles being used by others. :-)

  14. FYI: this is now a feature on the website. Manage your Kindle and locate the ebook. Under the actions menu on the right you have the option to clear the furthest page read.

    1. Anonymous,
      Yes, this became a ManageYourKindle feature last year and I announced it in the blog at http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2012/03/amazon-finally-has-reset-furthest-page.html last March.

      Thanks for taking the time to make sure people know this though! The reminder is very useful since most will have missed it.

  15. What about "sync to the page last viewed chronologically"?

    1. Anonymous, I think that's what the Kindles generally do -- sync to the last page viewed by any Kindle device -- but this works only if you have Wireless On and are near a 3G network or if you have WiFi. Otherwise the last one read is not 'logged' on the servers and it can't sync to a page that hasn't been logged with the servers.

  16. It turns out - the solution is easy (though I had to search and search for the answer myself). This link will show you what to do:


    1. Topper, thanks for taking the time to write! I probably shouldn't leave comment-areas open on ultra-old posts (Year 2010 in this case), as they can confuse, but sometimes it's the only way that people interested in the topic can write a comment or ask a question here that fits one of the current articles..
      -- In one of your searches you should have found the Year 2012 blog article on this, here, almost 2 years after this older article. It's at http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2012/03/amazon-finally-has-reset-furthest-page.html..

      It was a feature added almost 2 years later. Great that you found it though!


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