Kindle Problem: No reformatted PDFs, no Instapaper since late July

UPDATE Aug 5: Amazon’s Kindle support called me this morning to let me know that they’d fixed the pdf conversion problem — which is indeed now working. (Thanks, Amazon.) However, I still am not receiving my Instapaper digests on my Kindle. I’ve contacted Instapaper twice about this; no response yet. I’ve also let Amazon know of the continuing Instapaper problem.

I’m an avid Kindle user, mostly because I’ve come to hate paper and need to save space. I love the device, I think it’s a great reading experience and it suits my lifestyle — even though Amazon’s choice to rescind my George Orwell anthology a few weeks ago was simply beyond parody. (Lesson: Back up all your Kindle content as soon as it arrives on your machine. I put Orwell back on my Kindle simply by copying it from my backup.)

In the last couple of weeks some significant problems have developed concerning non-Amazon content for my Kindle — specifically PDFs I’ve been trying to reformat for Kindle reading, and digests sent to my Kindle from my Instapaper account. In late July both of those services stopped working for me entirely. That’s a big problem for me. Without those services, the Kindle is much less useful to me.

I don’t know whether other Kindle users are having these problems, but I thought I’d explain what I’m experiencing just in case someone has an explanation or solution. I’m working with Kindle support on this, but they said it might take a couple of weeks to resolve.

Here are the details…
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Instapaper: Because the Device Shouldn’t Matter

Kindle next to iPhone
Image by alexhung via Flickr

Now that I own (and use daily) a laptop, iPhone, and Kindle, I’m developing a new relationship to text content. I realize that I shouldn’t have to care about the device. The news and other content I choose to read should just be there — available on whichever of my devices I prefer at the moment, in a format friendly to that device.

This is especially true for anything longer than about 750 words. I’ve found that’s my personal limit for reading through a Web browser, either on my laptop or iPhone. Yes, I can and do occasionally slog through longer Web-based content on those devices. But honestly, after about 750 words I tend to stop truly reading and instead scan quickly through the rest to gauge whether it’s worth further reading.

So I was pleased to recently discover an online service called Instapaper, which makes it easier to read electronic long-format content and to share that content across multiple devices.

Here’s how it works…

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News on the Kindle 2: Some Glitches, Lots of Potential

kindle at breakfast

News on a Kindle 2: Part of my balanced daily breakfast.

Last week my Kindle 2 e-reader from Amazon arrived. I swore to my brother a couple of years ago I’d never buy 1.0 of anything ever again — and I’m glad I waited. I played briefly with a friend’s first-edition Kindle last year and was intrigued. The new version has a better display, better form factor, and better usability.

This device is far from perfect, but it’s impressive. It’s pricey ($359) — but I still think even the most cash-strapped newsroom should acquire one and make it available so journalists, editors, designers, and news technologists can play with it. If you can’t or won’t buy one and you’re in the online news biz, go buy a Kindle 2 owner a beer and play with theirs for an hour or two at least.

Why? Because I seriously suspect devices like this could become game-changers for online and mobile news — perhaps surprisingly fast. That is, if online news operations start taking e-reader technology seriously and work with Amazon and other e-reader makers to improve e-reader news delivery. We still have a way to go, but I see significant’s potential.

Currently Kindle is mainly intended for reading books. But Amazon has always sold newspapers and magazines (one-offs and subscriptions) since it launched the Kindle Store. Yes, that’s right: sold. As in: revenue.

This week I bought a couple of issues of Technology Review, and I even subscribed to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Yep, subscribed. Paid for it. Me. $5.99 per month. Imagine that.) Generally, I like getting news via Kindle, but there are some glitches.

My observations so far… Continue reading