The Trouble with eBooks

As you already know, I’ve been loving my Kindle Fire, despite its flaws. It may not be the best general-purpose tablet, but when it comes to reading, there are few devices that best it. Its just so damn convenient to have dozens of books available for reading in a device the size of The Great Gatsby. Like the iPod Touch before it, I find myself taking the Kindle everywhere, just in case I have some downtime for reading.

Earlier this month, however, I discovered a fatal chink in the eBook armor: sometimes your digital books stop working.

I’m not talking about having my purchased books revoked, which did happen once and still haunts Amazon; no, I’m talking about a software glitches that made some of my books completely unreadable. One night last week, I tapped on one of my kindle books and instead of jumping to the last page I had open, I instead saw the title page. Annoying, sure, but since I had stopped on a new chapter, it was no big deal. As I attempted to flip forward through the book, however, I found that I couldn’t progress any further than that initial page.

I was obviously frustrated, especially since I was halfway through the novel, but I decided that instead of wallowing in my frustration I would instead start one of the other books I had downloaded. Butt that one had the exact same problem. And so did the next book I opened. I started to get worried that all my books were broken (thankfully they weren’t), and I was hesitant to buy any more for the same reason. I tried everything I could think of to get my Kindle working as it should again, which included contacting Amazon customer support, but nothing seemed to fix it.

The happy ending to this story is that Amazon released a software update last night which finally solved the issue. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who lost access to some of the Kindle books, and Amazon quickly tweaked the Kindle Fire’s software to appease the many unhappy customers like myself. Although I’m unlikely to change my habits, this experience had me rethinking my recent love-affair with eBooks.

After all: paper books don’t suddenly stop working because of a software bug.