Friday, June 17, 2011

Amazon quietly makes improvements to Kindle periodical subscription rules and processes


In May 2009, I complained here (and in reviews) about Amazon's restrictive subscription rules for the sharing of periodical subscriptions and access to older-issues, which affected newspapers like the NYTimes Sunday editions also) when upgrading or replacing Kindles.

  Older magazine subscription issues (vs single issues)that we've purchased can't be re-downloaded (the way a Kindle book can) to an upgraded or replaced Kindle if the issues are older than the last 7 issues or 14 dailies.  They can't be even  when a customer has opted to "Keep" older issues on one Kindle but  then needs to replace this Kindle due to UPGRADING to a new Kindle or replacing a defective model, or losing the Kindle.

Putting older subscription issues on a new Kindle
  A reason given has been that publishers tend to allow only a limited number of older issues to remain on Amazon servers -- customers can't re-download older issues of periodicals like the New Yorker to their new upgraded Kindles because the older issues no longer exist on the servers after awhile.
  This will remain the same, although I think they could fix this by changing the way the digital-rights key is applied to a unique-device's ID field.

Sharing a periodical on the same account
  Sharing periodicals on one account, the way you can with Kindle books, was not doable in the past.  Not even for a family sharing a home.
  For the last few years,  the subscribed periodical was readable on only ONE Kindle device.  The person across the breakfast table couldn't share it on his/her Kindle the way that Kindle books can be shared on an account.

  If you lived alone, you couldn't, in the recent past, have that same periodical on your larger Kindle used at home while also being able to read it on the smaller Kindle carried during your commute.  You were limited to reading your paid subscription on only one of your devices.

You can now download a current, subscribed-issue onto another Kindle if they are on the same Amazon Kindle Account.

  Part of the blame went to the publishers, who had much stronger rules for the periodicals, it was said.  Another part was due to Amazon's keying the newspaper issue for only one device, ever, and it was not transferrable, so if you upgraded your Kindle and sold the older one (deleting everything on it by Amazon and publisher rules for selling or gifting a used Kindle), there was NO way you could put those same issues on your next Kindle.  The rights-key was made for only one Kindle device, for all time.  So, that's finally been changed.

  A great feature of the Kindle is that it's a Searchable text-base or database.  The New Yorker is the type of magazine people keep until a time they can get to all the often rich, long  articles in it, and you can search on a word or words used in a book or in an article in a magazine and get right to that issue via a link.

  The periodical situation led to some negative reviews for the Kindle Edition of the New Yorker Magazine (which is a really excellent one).  One customer review, titled "Only Seven Most Recent Issues Saved," shows '395 of 420 people' finding the review-info 'helpful,' along with 21 Comments to the review.  I feel that a purchased magazine should be treated as one bought in paper-bound life;  you can put an issue on a shelf and read it WHEN you're ready to get to it.  I don't like buying an issue for $3 but not being able to read a certain older article in it if I've decided to upgrade my Kindle.  There are larger problems in life, but subscribers should be aware of it.

Things began to improve when:
  1. the Kindle 3 added WiFi network access, and deliveries to customers could be made by Amazon via WiFi,  lowering 3G carrier delivery charges, saving some money.

  2. the publishers were then able to get a larger share of subscription revenues, while Amazon took care of layout and 'air' delivery costs.

  3. Amazon programmed the Kindle for Android app to include magazines and newspapers, and right away, SHARING of periodicals was suddenly possible with other Kindle-compatible devices.

  Amazon started quietly placing all issues purchased  for a Kindle into "Archived Items" folders on OTHER Kindles sharing a Kindle account, making them available, upon a Click, to the other Kindle devices.  That was a big change when we discovered this was happening.

  I found, today, that my "Archived Items" 'folder' on my Kindle 3 (UK: K3) became sort of large -- the folder holds titles of books and periodicals that are in our "Library" areas on Amazon servers and which are not on our Kindles..

  My latest Kindle suddenly showed that I could pull from 'Archived Items' folder some very OLD single-issue magazines  and newspapers bought in 2008 when I owned another Kindle (with its own ID key).   These, purchased as  single issues and not as part of a subscription stayed in my Amazon library.  That's an interesting factoid, I thought.

  I am now able to download ANY of those from my Amazon library to my latest Kindles if I want AND I can delete them forever from my Amazon library on their servers, when I want.

  To summarize,  I'd tried, over a year ago, to open some TIME Magazine and NY Times Sunday single issues I'd bought for an older Kindle, and they would  not open on any Kindle except the one originally specified for it.  All I ever got was a "Cannot load" and  Amazon Kindle Support said it was not possible to open it on other Kindles. 

  THOSE are now downloadable to any of my Kindles ( I use a Kindle DX when I need to see more on a page or view smaller illustrations better -- and PDFs are easier to read on them.

The two changes described above are terrific!  It's too bad that older periodical subscription items are not officially transferrable to other Kindles though -- only current ones, and I am hoping they solve that. 

On June 8, I blogged the "CHANGES to the "Manage Your Kindle" pages..." and many wondered why the one-page Kindle-management area had been changed to one with several different areas and sub-areas.   I guess Amazon  is leaving room to note everything you may want to manage.  I would bet that there are more items that will be managed there after the rumored tablets hit further down the road.

  I have several subscriptions because I like the Kindle Edition layout although I also enjoy the more generic and free RSS feeds.  At any rate, my Amazon-server library "archives" area takes more space now, but it's easy to permanently delete titles from it.

The above involve two good changes out of the three hoped for at the Kindle forums.  It took two years for them to happen.  I'll be keeping an eye out for other unheralded changes.

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  1. In addition to your observations, I'd like to be able to put my magazines in folders of my own choosing. I'd like the copy of Asimov's that I'm currently reading in my Currently Reading folder, not buried in back of unsorted downloads in the Archived Issues folder. I'd like the copies that I've read to be able to be placed into my Completed folder. And I'd like to be able to place the ones that I haven't read yet into my Holding folder. Do you think there a good reason why they can't do it that way?

    I'd also like to have a folder to keep my blogs so they don't get lost in with all the books I've downloaded and haven't sorted through yet.

    Small issues, but they would make me so happy! I'd also love to be able to set a preference somewhere saying that I want to keep all my issues by default.

  2. Liz,
    They do need a 'Collections' feature for magazines as well as books.

    If you haven't seen the Collections Guide here, see

    The current copy of Asimov you're reading actually won't be "buried in back of the unsorted downloads in the Archived Issues folder" ...

    Current issue is always on the Home page. Previous issues will be in "PERIODICALS" folder.

    At Home screne, cursor up and you'll see you can sort by Most Recent, Title, or Author. With Most Recent, the Periodicals and Archived Items folder will be on the last page.
    With Title or Author sorting you can press the FIRST letter only and then click to get to the start of the alpha listing of titles that start with that letter.

    Archived Items *AND* Periodical folders are both sortable by Author or Title. Cursor up to the top, and then go Right, using the 5-way button (pressing the right edge of the button).

    You'll be able to see which issues you haven't read yet because they'll have "New" at the left edge.

    I don't think they'll do magazine folders until their Android tablets and maybe a touch Kindle are ready later this year.

    To see ONLY your blogs, subscriptions, cursor up and choose to sort by Collections. After you've put all books into Collections, this sorting method will show you only your current blogs and periodicals.

    Hope you see this and that it helps.

  3. Hi Andrys, I am almost never reading the current issue. I'm always one or two issues behind, so the one I'm reading is always at the end with the Back Issues. I want to be able to put that one in my Currently Reading collection. I don't want them to go into Back Issues until after I've read them. But they always get bumped there as soon as the new ones come in.

  4. Liz,
    Ah, I see. Well, it's not likely that with all that's happening that they'll upgrade the periodical collections for awhile, but let's hope they give it SOME priority with feedback like yours.

    Until then, I mentioned that Archived and Periodicals folders are not unsorted and to make your life easier, you should sort them by Title or Author anyway until they do something about this (which they should because more people will be on tablets and, like Android tablet offerings of the newspaper/magazine blogs, many more people will be trying them out and it is a cumbersome situation right now.

    Be sure to let Amazon have feedback on what you point out here. It's important.

    By the way, enjoyed your blog entry on the mountain climbers. Have you seen the new issue of Nat'l Geo (I have it on the NookColor) that features Yosemite's El Capitan climbers?

    An article with amazing photos. They point out that a woman, Lynn Hill, free-climbed the Nose on El Capitan in a day in 1994 but that although people have beat that time by twice often, they've not done it in the way she did.

    Others have relied on "aid climbing to get past the Great Roof, a harrowing overhang two-thirds of the way up.
    Determined to free[climb] the Great Roof, Hill clung ot the smallest fingherholds, hanging upside down, feet skittering off the slick wall."

    Using no rope and no tools, she did this and reached the summit in 23 hours -- "a feat considered by many today to be the ultimate climbing accomplishment of the late 20th century." She was 33 at the time.

  5. Any idea whether NYTimes has figured out how to tie a Kindle/NYTimes subscription to the website logins? It's the only thing keeping me from subscribing - I really don't like reading the NYtimes on my Android phone.

  6. Joel,
    At one point "a few weeks" was the description and they said they'd let us know.

    They were trying to nail down how to be sure a website-browsing visitor was really the user actually subscribing to a Kindle edition, and I'm sure they would announce if they'd finally done it.

    I wish I knew when they'll be ready... I haven't written them but I suspect if people do they'll get at least a boilerplate response. If you do, let us know. I've been under 20/mo on the website because I usually read articles from twitter announcements, blogs, or from google, bing, blekko and other search engines (they do up the count but are doable beyond the 20-per-day limit).

  7. Thanks Andrys. I think I have sent that feedback to them, but I will again.

    I prefer to keep things in chronological order, rather than by title or author. I usually have 10-12 books in my Currently Reading folder. I like to read them in a rotation. I'm a bit OCD like that. Which brings me to another things I wish. I wish that you could set the sorting differently for each folder. LOL But however it works, I do love my Kindle!

    I haven't seen the National Geographic article. I'll be looking for it, thanks! I'm crazy, crazy for the climbing stuff!

  8. Liz,
    That's odd. My current-reading folder has a choice for Most Recent sorting.

    Do you cursor up and change sorting to how you want to see the folder contents?

    That issue of Nat'l Geo is almost over. So try to see it. My B&N carries the paper-bound ones.

    But they're no match for the edition on the NookColor (and of course probably on large tablets, but the NookColor resolution of 1024x768 on a 7" form makes a stunning picture especially with the color balance it has).


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