Proof That The Kindle Is Really A Great E-reader

The Amazon Kindle is a really, really, great device. I’m not basing this on any intrinsic qualities of the thing, but on the fact that Amazon believes they can get away with the kind of customer “service” they provide, and that they appear to be right. In fact, I like my Kindle so much that yesterday’s online support experience seems a small price to pay for the privilige of reading on it.

Sorta.

Backstory: In preparation for the upcoming Villa Diodati Expat Writers Workshop next weekend, I’m reading the stories and chapters my fellow participants have submitted, and making notes for our critiquing sessions. I am doing this, of course, on the Kindle app on my Android tablet, where I can use my wireless keyboard. The notes I make in the document sync with my Kindle, so they’re available there too. And on the Kindle, there’s a My Clippings.txt file containing my annotations, all ready to be exported and shared with my writing friends.

Only problem was: the notes in my friends’ writing did not show up in the My Clippings.txt file.

Confused, I sent an email to Amazon Kindle Support. They recommended I try chat support. Naively, I did. This is a complete transcript of the ensuing chat.

Initial Question: Notes I’ve made in my Personal Documents on my Android tablet don’t show up in My Clippings.txt, so I can’t export them.
Prior to starting the chat, the website asked me to state my problem clearly and succinctly. As you can see, I’m telling them that:

  • We’re talking about Personal Documents.
  • I’ve made notes in these documents.
  • I’ve done this on my Android tablet.
  • The notes are not in the My Clippings.txt file.
  • Not explicitly, but clearly implied by the previous point: I know that the My Clippings.txt file exists, where I can find it, and what its purpose is.
  • Somewhat less clearly implied, but easily deduced by a Kindle expert: I have synced the documents from tablet to Kindle–because the My Clippings.txt file is present only on the Kindle.

And my implied question, of course, is: if they’re not in My Clippings, then where are they?

06:34 PM Lynne Hello, my name is Lynne. I’ll be happy to help you.
So far so good.
06:34 PM Floris Hy Lynne
 I’ve learned to be polite and pleasant always–or at least as long as humanly possible.
06:34 PM Lynne Hi Floris, how are you?
See? Be pleasant, and be treated pleasantly in return.
06:35 PM Lynne I am sorry that you are unable to access your personal document on your android table. No worries, I’ll do my best to check for the best option that we have for you.
Say what? Never mind that I’m not working on a table; she misconstrued my entire problem. The first word in my problem statement is Notes, for Pete’s sake! This is where I start to regret trying to solve this through customer service, because this always happens. Reps never read anything you say properly, or indeed at all.
06:36 PM Floris I can access my PDs fine, both on tablet and on my Kindle, that’s not the problem.
But let’s not give up on Lynne yet. A patient and clear response is the ticket. Right?
06:37 PM Floris The problem is that the notes I make in my PDs on my tablet sync perfectly to my Kindle, but don’t show up in My Clippings.txt.
06:37 PM   Which is highly inconvenient, as the notes are for the document authors (I’m critiquing their stories).
06:38 PM   Oddly enough, if I open the notes on the Kindle and save them (without changing anything), they do show up.
06:38 PM   But that would mean I need to open each note on my Kindle and save it; far from ideal.
06:40 PM   This would be a great time for a response…
Although I’m starting to lose my patience by this time, five minutes after she last gave me any kind of response, I’m still giving her the benefit of the doubt. 
06:40 PM Lynne May I know how did you transfer the document?
A promising question! It suggests she is now on the same page as me, and is really thinking about my problem. I’m pretty sure her avenue of exploration is a dead end, but it’s a reasonable question, and I’ll answer it in that spirit. 
06:41 PM Floris They were Word documents (*.doc/*.rtf); I emailed them to my Personal Documents address with the ‘convert’ option.
My reply, like all replies I gave, was almost instantaneous. Her next response, listed below, took about four minutes. In general, I answered her questions as they appeared; her responses took 2-5 minutes. It was like communicating with Mars.
06:45 PM Lynne Please try to do the transfer again. Let see if the same thing happens. Try to create another folder.
Another thing Reps do when you come with a real, repeatable problem: ask you to try again. While I was still calming my annoyance over this, and composing a reply, she had the gall for:
06:47 PM  Lynne I don’t mean to rush you, however the chat has been idle for a few minutes, and I’m wondering if we’re still connected.
By this time, we’re 15 minutes into the chat, and I’ve spent the majority of those minutes waiting for her responses. So yes, I failed to be entirely polite and diplomatic in my reaction:
06:48 PM Floris Excuse me? I’ve spent most of this chat waiting for your responses.
Apparently, any kind of virtual voice-raising leads to an immediate transfer to second level support.
06:48 PM Lynne One moment let me transfer you to kindle specialist for further assistance.
 Note that I’m being transferred to a Kindle specialist. Remember that.
06:48 PM Floris I’ve tried the transfer with several different documents, with the same result. Don’t think trying one more will help.
06:50 PM   Please be aware that I’ve asked this question by email first, and was asked to go to chat instead. If this is the speed of chat, I might as well stick with email…
06:50 PM   Oh, hi Daryl
While I was still pushing my point home that 1. I thought her suggestion useless and 2. it was incredibly rude of her to talk of my side of the chat being idle, Kindle Specialist Daryl was announced in the chat window. 
06:50 PM Daryl Hello, my name is Daryl. I’m a Kindle Specialist. I’ll be happy to help you today.
 Ah, the voice of reason! Now we’ll be getting somewhere. Back to polite and pleasant.
06:50 PM Floris Thank you.
And leave space to let him ask any additional question he feels necessary.
06:52 PM Daryl I’m sorry to hear that about the issues you are having with your Kindle . I understand that you are unable to send documents to your Kindle for Android. Is that right?
[HEADDESK!]
06:53 PM Floris No, that is not right. Could I trouble you to read the chat I had with Lynne? I’ve described the problem twice already.
Can you blame me for the hint of sarcasm seeping into my tone?
06:54 PM Daryl Please give me a minute or two to read your previous conversation.
Fair enough. He’s eager to correct his mistake.
06:56 PM Floris Please do, thank you.
So back to polite and pleasant.
06:56 PM Daryl I just want to make sure if I got it right, you are referring with the clipping yo have right?
What?? He must be dyslectic. Or a rap artist. I don’t even understand what he’s asking. Producing an answer is impossible.
06:56 PM Daryl Those are the Bookmarks, highlights, notes.
Wait. That I understand. Sounds like he’s talking about the same thing I am. Relief!
06:57 PM Floris Exactly, the bookmarks, highlights, and notes, that are normally stored in the My Clippings.txt file.
Confirm, encourage. Who knows, perhaps Daryl needs to get started first. If I was near, I’d hand him a cuppa.
06:57 PM Daryl Only the annotations that were created on that specific device will show in the My Clippings folder.
Weird, but informative. The problem I’m experiencing is actually by design.
06:57 PM Daryl Those can only be extracted on a Kindle device
That follows. Looks like we’re going to get around to my original question after all! Here goes:
06:58 PM Floris So where are they stored on my Android tablet?
Because if they’re not in the Clippings file, they must be somewhere else, and me wants that somewhere else!
06:58 PM Daryl They are stored but not accessible on the Kindle for android.
06:59 PM   You can access them if you access the Kindle directory, Like the folders inside the Kindle device itself.
Enigmatic, and even contradictory statements. Let’s ask him to clarify.
07:00 PM Floris Wait. You’re saying they’re stored but not accessible, but you’re also saying that I can acess them. Can I or can’t I?
To quote Wormtongue: “A just question, my liege.”
07:01 PM Daryl What I am saying on the second statement is you can if you have the “KINDLE DEVICE” not a on reading app.
Okay, that clarifies the contradiction. Let’s try and get back to my question.
07:02 PM Floris But the annotations do sync to my Kindle: I can see them in the PDs. Where are they stored on the Kindle, then, if not in the My Clippings.txt file?
So after the implied question in my original problem statement (at 6:32), the explicit question at 6:58, I have now, at 7:02, stated my question once more.
07:04 PM Daryl To access them on a Kindle device please do this.
 Drumroll! Daryl is about to answer me!!!
07:05 PM Daryl You need to connect the Kindle to your computer.
07:05 PM   Then you need to access the “documents folder”
07:07 PM   Once you open the “documents folder” you will see the My Clippings TXT file on it.
After that, Daryl fell silent. And remember: I’ve stated in my problem description, and several times since, that my notes are not in My Clippings.txt. No, I haven’t made an explicit statement that I’ve located and accessed the file, but the fact that I know, and keep repeating, that my notes are absent from the file imply very, very clearly that I know how to access it.
07:08 PM Floris Yes… and?
Perhaps Daryl is just dense. That could be. Retain an unthreatening posture and make encouraging noises.
07:09 PM Daryl And as you request you can access the folder copy it or print it.
07:10 PM   That is what you want right?
There is now a dent in my desk, and a corresponding flat bit on my forehead. My patience is now officially lost.
07:10 PM Floris Did you read the bit where I said, not once, not twice, but three times now, that the notes I need are NOT in the My Clippings file?
07:11 PM   And that the notes ARE in the documents on my Kindle, and that I asked where, then, they are stored, if not in the My Clippings file?
Compared to the annoyance-bordering-on-blind-rage I was feeling, I think in retrospect that my reaction was relatively mild.Hello Amazon, I want X, and by doing A I’m not getting X.Half an hour of fruitless chatting later: Well sir, how about you do A? That’s what you want, right?Grrrrrrrr!
07:11 PM Daryl Did you access them on a Kindle Device? Not on a reading app
07:11 PM   Those are only accessible on a Kindle device.
07:12 PM   If you cant see any on your Kindle device that means your annotations back up is not turned on.
Okay, Daryl is now officially an idiot, or is refusing categorically to read anything I tell him. I’ve stated several times that the notes are on my Kindle.
07:13 PM Floris Daryl, I am telling you that the notes ARE present on my Kindle device. They have synced from the tablet, and when I open the documents on the Kindle, the notes are right there. I can open them and read them. Therefore, I know for a fact that they are stored SOMEWHERE on the Kindle. I’m asking WHERE, because they are not in My Clippings.
Yes, I’m now resorting to CAPITALIZED SHOUTING.
07:15 PM Daryl Can I ask you one more question?
07:15 PM   On which device you originally made those notes and highlights?
Tears of rage are now running down my cheeks.
07:16 PM Floris I already told you several times: they were created on the tablet.
Amazingly calm, right?
07:16 PM Daryl Did you created the clippings originally on your Kindle?
07:16 PM   That is what i am missing I am sorry.
07:17 PM   E Ink devices will show annotations that were created on other devices or reading apps while inside the content, but these annotations will not be added to the My Clippings file on the device.
07:18 PM   Your Kindle is Eink apparently.
Soo…. 45 minutes after my first question, Daryl manages to acquire such a deep understanding of my problem that he is able… wait for it… to restate it in his own words!!!
07:18 PM Floris Okay, so now we’re on the same page. I’ve told you my problem, and you have confirmed that this is, indeed, the behavior as documented.
07:18 PM   Now to my question.
07:18 PM   Where on my device are the notes stored?
I’ve now given up on Daryl, Amazon, and Technical Support worldwide. While Daryl is struggling with his next slow, badly written, useless reply, I’m snooping around my Kindle’s innards, trying to find out the answer to my question for myself.
07:19 PM Daryl If they are created originally on a reading app like on your android app I am sorry they cant be accessed on your Kindle device.
By this time, I am counting on this answer. Because I have found the notes, and know exactly where they are and how I can export them.
07:20 PM Floris Yes they can.
Yes, I am gloating here.
07:21 PM Daryl You can see them on your Kindle devices and reading app.
07:21 PM   Which is true, but you cant reproduce them since they are created originally on a reading app.
07:22 PM   You may try to ready some of your clipping using on this link:
07:22 PM   https://kindle.amazon.com/
Which is a website where Personal Documents notes, according to my experience ánd Amazon’s own documentation, do not appear under any circumstances.
07:22 PM Floris This chat was so slow and repetitive that I’ve taken a look around the documents folder on my Kindle. Turns out the *.han files contain the information I need.
Yes, more gloating.
07:23 PM Daryl I am answering your questions based on our resources.
Which are sadly lacking, obviously. Can’t resist a final jab at him.
07:24 PM Floris Though not on any kind of first-hand knowledge of the matters under discussion, I take it?
07:24 PM   I’m looking forward to the Customer Satisfaction Survey
Honestly. After this, filling out a CSS would be a joy.
07:25 PM Daryl Will do.
07:25 PM   I want to help you as much as I can, Please let me know of you have any other questions?
Will do? Will do what? Please don’t do anything anymore! And questions? I’d rather have a root canal.
07:25 PM Floris None whatsoever
My tone was lost on him, I’m afraid.
07:25 PM Daryl In behalf of Amazon Kindle Chat Support, we hope you have a great day ahead!
No thanks to him. But at least I was free again. For good. Because I’m never contacting Amazon Customer Service EVER AGAIN!

2 thoughts on “Proof That The Kindle Is Really A Great E-reader

  1. Thanks for the information! I was trying to work out which files I needed as well, fortunately I’d copied everything over before unhooking the thing and could get access to the *.han files.

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