The Kindle range of e-readers from Amazon are excellent, lightweight devices that enable you to carry your library of books around wherever you go – but what happens when a Kindle goes wrong?
Amazon’s popular eBook readers are easy to setup and use, but from time to time they can run into problems. Issues related to wireless networks or the free international 3G network that can be used for buying and downloading eBooks are perhaps the most common. There are other problems that can arise from time to time, however, such as the Kindle display freezing, or the battery running low. Indeed, the vast majority of problems you experience with a Kindle will be due to low battery or connectivity issues – or both.
Before you can deal with your Kindle’s problems, you will need to establish which model you’re using.
Note that we are dealing only with Kindle e-readers here, those that use e-ink displays rather than the Kindle Fire (more information about which you will find in our Kindle Fire guide).
How to Identify Your Kindle
Before you can begin to effectively troubleshooting your Kindle, you will need to know which model you have. There are several different versions of the eBook reader, so being aware of which model is yours will help you to quickly find the right fix.
You might, for example, have a standard Kindle dating back to the first generation of devices, or the more recent version without the keyboard. Alternatively, you might be using a Kindle DX (with the larger, 9.7 inch screen) or a Kindle Touch, which combines the e-ink display with a touch screen.
If you’re lucky, you might even have the Kindle Paperwhite with its free 3G global wireless.
A quick method of checking is by looking up the serial number. Do this by pressing Home > Menu > Settings > Device Info and read the serial number, which will begin with one of the following strings, revealing which model you have:
B001 = Kindle 1
B002 = Kindle 2 US
B003 = Kindle 2 International
B004 = Kinde DX US
B005 = Kindle DX International
B006 = Kindle 3 Wi-Fi and 3G
B008 = Kindle 3 Wi-Fi only
B009 = Kindle DX Graphite
B00A = Kindle 3 Wi-Fi and 3G
B00E = Kindle 4 NoTouch Silver (2011)
B00F = Kindle Touch 3G + Wi-Fi (Kindle 5) (U.S. and Canada)
B011 = Kindle Touch Wi-Fi (Kindle 5)
B010 = Kindle Touch 3G + Wi-Fi (Kindle 5) (Europe)
B012 = Kindle 5 (Unknown)
B023 = Kindle 4 NoTouch Black (2012)
B024 = Kindle PaperWhite Wi-Fi
B01B = Kindle PaperWhite 3G + Wi-Fi (U.S.) [Mostly]
(There are some variants, which you can find in the full list at wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Kindle_Serial_Numbers)
Serial numbers might also be found on the reverse of the device, and on the box. You can also identify your Kindle by visiting Amazon, signing into your account and selecting Your Account > Manage Your Kindle > Manage Your Device > Registered Kindle Devices.
Once you’ve identified your Kindle (this page at Amazon can also help) you’ll be ready to apply the correct fix.
There are several common problems you might experience with your Kindle – let’s take a look at how to fix them.
Kindle Connection Issues
If your Kindle cannot connect to a wireless network, you can’t download ebooks. Clearly this is a problem, but one that can usually be easily resolved. All Kindle devices have wireless connectivity.
To deal with wireless connectivity issues, begin by checking the strength of the signal. This is found in the top-right corner of the display on all models, and will also indicate your connection type. If you have a strong signal but cannot access the Kindle Store or your library, try disconnecting by opening Menu > Settings > Wi-Fi Settings (Wi-Fi Networks on later models) and accessing a different network. You may find that restarting the device will help (see below).
Some Kindles have 3G, however. If your problem is with connecting to the 3G network, first check the Kindle 3G coverage map which should help you determine whether a 3G signal should be available to you or not.
Next, check your battery. If it is low, then you will need to charge before proceeding. Open the menu and activate the 3G connection, following this by syncing your device with the Kindle library (Menu > Sync & Check for Items on later models).
Restarting your Kindle may help here – see the next section for details.
Remember that it can take a few moments for your Kindle to connect to a network after you switch it on.
Help – My Kindle Has Frozen!
An unresponsive Kindle is particularly frustrating. Restarting your device may help, but you should begin by charging it so that the e-reader has a full battery before proceeding.
To restart the Kindle (whichever model) hold the power button until the device powers down. Leave it for few moments before repeating the action to boot it back up. Be aware that the problem that caused the freeze may need resolving, so the reboot may be slow.
Another option is to install the latest update. Updates can be downloaded from Amazon and installed by connecting your Kindle to your computer via USB and dragging the downloaded file to your Kindle.
For serious freezing issues, you may need to reset your device. From a frozen Kindle, this is done by depressing the power switch for 20-30 seconds. Be aware, however, that this action will wipe your device, so you will need to login and resync all of your content. This step should only be taken in the event that no other fix works.
Maximise Battery Life
As you might have noticed, there are several problems that a low battery can cause on a Kindle e-reader – so what’s the best way of making the charge last?
Well, we should start with the obvious. To keep your Amazon Kindle battery up, you should charge it whenever the battery is low. This will mean keeping an eye on the battery level in the top-right corner, of course, but this should allow you to fall into a routine of charging every few days or so.
To keep the battery as full as possible for as long as possible, however, you should be disconnecting from wireless networks and 3G (if applicable) whenever you’re not using them. This should really be most of the time, unless you’re using homebrew apps to browse the web and use your e-reader like a monochrome tablet.
Disconnecting is best done by switching to airplane mode, which you will find under Menu > Settings.
Other Kindle Troubleshooting Tips
The majority of issues with the Kindle e-readers can be fixed with a hard reset, as described above.
However, one or two cannot. For instance, problems with your payment method or your user account password will need to be dealt with by signing into the Manage Your Kindle page at Amazon, where you can make the necessary checks to ensure your details are all correct.
Once you’ve done this, any sign-in and issues with making payment for new ebooks should be sorted out. All you will need to do is to make another attempt at the sync or purchase you were trying to make on your Kindle, updating any changed details on your device to correspond with those on your account page.
You can also check sync issues by using the desktop Kindle app – this is a quick way of determining if there are any problems.
Straightforward Fixes Make E-Reading Easy
You’ll have noticed above that I pointed out that these fixes and troubleshooting steps are aimed at the e-ink Kindles and not the Kindle Fire. The main reason for this is that the e-ink devices are so much easier to use, and simpler to fix; after all, they do much less, and in many ways are single-purpose devices, unlike the multipurpose Kindle Fire.
What this means is that you shouldn’t have too many problems with your ebook reader – but if you do, you should be able to cope with them using the steps outlined here. And if you’re considering moving to a Nook, be sure to read our comparison on Nook versus Kindle first.
Image Credit: Robert Drózd