Crazed Consumer Tuesday: Kindle Fire – Problem with DRM (and how to fix it)

I have now had my Kindle Fire for one week.

There is no good reason I asked my husband for this fun new toy, but he bought it for me anyway: an early Christmas present. Millions have joined me. There is really no particular task the Fire can do that I can’t already do with my other many gadgets. I admit we already have two Kindle Keyboards (3d Gen), an iPod Touch, an iPod Classic, an iPod Shuffle, two iPod Nanos, a MacBook, a MacBook Pro, a few Linux desktop machines, an iPad, a Sony eReader, a Sansa Fuze, and more I can’t remember … so you see, we’re not hurting in the consumer electronics department. (Unless you consider the financial and social impact.)

And yet I wanted a Kindle Fire anyway. My husband watches videos on his iPad every night next to me in bed, so maybe I was jealous. You can lie on your back while you zone out in multimedialand, which isn’t possible with a laptop. And who watches TV anymore? (OK, well, I don’t. It’s downstairs, where it’s cold and drafty, and we dumped cable long ago.)

This desire to do tablet-like things on it is why I didn’t even try to load an ebook for several days. I have many Kindle editions in the cloud, some with DRM (not that I’d noticed, since I used my other Kindle.) Finally, after getting bored with the Amazon Prime video offerings (the Fire gives you one free month of Prime and its free content for a month), I downloaded of my previously-purchased Kindle books.

When I tried to open it, I got an “INVALID” error message warning me that my title had DRM and I somehow lacked the rights to it. (I’m sorry I can’t quote it directly; it has since been fixed.) I tried repeatedly with other books; same story. (My books loaded fine, since I don’t ever put DRM locks on my own books.)

Thinking perhaps the publishers had put multiple-device limits on their books, and I’d already loaded them onto too many (see above menagerie of electronica), I purchased a new (free) Kindle book from a trad publisher that I knew would have DRM on it. That didn’t work either.

So, the solution, courtesy of Tiffany (her real name? I wondered) at Amazon Customer Service (this was not given to me via email, but took a phone call):

1. Reboot your device. (didn’t work)
2. Go to settings and deregister your device.
3. Reregister. (worked.)

This worked for me, but Tiffany was on the other end of the line, so perhaps she did some magical keystrokes to make something work. If you’re having error messages with your DRMed ebooks, try this before you call, and know you’re not the only one who had the issue.

Now I’m able to read all my books with or without DRM. Another reason DRM is really, really annoying and unhelpful. All it did for me was remind me why I’d rather buy paperbacks if they have DRM…

Or buy from indies.