Millions of Kindle e-readers will lose store access next month
August is only a few weeks away, and that’s the date Amazon has set to make its Kindle library unavailable on millions of active Kindle e-readers that are used daily. Starting the first week of August, a bunch of old Kindles will lose the ability to buy books directly on the device and won’t even be able to wishlist them to buy them on another device at a later date. If you have an active Kindle Unlimited subscription, these will also not be available for reading. This is the first time Amazon has done something like this and it’s a very bold move.
Which Kindles will lose access to the Bookstore in August? The Kindle (2nd Generation) International, Kindle DX International, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (4th Generation) and Kindle (5th Generation) are the models that are on the chopping block. Many of these models don’t have a touchscreen and rely on physical buttons. Will Amazon discontinue other models in the future? I have a funny feeling that they are going to announce something next summer.
Amazon hasn’t stated otherwise, but I think this whole issue is about TLS certificates. The Amazon bookstore sometimes updates its security and the minimum that the store accepts is TLS 1.2, but it is ideal that all devices use TLS 1.3. Amazon might release a firmware update to fix this issue and upgrade TLS for older Kindle e-readers, but why bother? I’d bet there’s a small population of users reading on decade-old Kindles with mediocre PPI and E INK Pearl screens. The real reason why Amazon won’t release a firmware update? This goes against a new Kindle upgrade policy.
Amazon said late last year that it would only release security updates for four years, when the Kindle was last available for purchase on Amazon’s website. This means that the current generation Kindle Basic 2019, the previous generation Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis 3 will only be supported until 2024-2026. The latest 11th Generation Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition will be supported until the end of the decade. Basically, Amazon implemented this policy as a way to get people to upgrade every few generations and continue their investment in the Amazon ecosystem. Old Kindles are doing Amazon a disservice if people refuse to upgrade, this new policy change forces people to upgrade.
Good e-Reade was the first outlet to report on this and since then thousands of news websites and blogs have picked up the story and I think Amazon was caught off guard. A few weeks when we first broke the story, the company released a help file that details which models will be affected and what they recommend users do. This is similar to the story of Kindles losing access to 3G networks, which meant that anyone who spent extra money for 3G access and didn’t have to rely on WIFI, saw their Kindles lose the access to Cellular networks in the United States and around the world. Amazon probably didn’t even know this was happening until everyone picked up our story and they had to announce plans to deal with it. Both times when we told these stories, Amazon’s response was to nudge people into upgrading to the latest generation models and offer a coupon code and $50 ebook credit.
If you’re using an older Kindle, prepare to lose access to the store in early August. Your existing books that you have purchased will not disappear, although you cannot purchase new ones. The only way you can still use this reader is to go to your local Amazon website on your phone or computer and buy books and they will sync to your Kindle. It requires jumping through hoops, which sucks. The big appeal of buying a Kindle in the first place is buying books right on the e-reader and reading them in seconds, which is why the brand has become the most popular in the world.
I think Amazon is slowly losing its charm. Audible, Amazon Shopping, and Kindle for Android and iOS have all lost the ability to purchase audiobooks and eBooks. People who use iPhones and iPads and flagship Android phones all represent a significant number of people who were active customers and suddenly one day the ability to buy books is gone. Now their Kindle e-readers are losing access to the store. Where does it stop?
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.