I have a love-hate relationship with my Kindle. I love that I can carry a lot of books on the plane, so I don't run out. But I hate that I can carry a lot of books on the plane, because it makes it easy for my ADD-like brain to leap from book to book, leaving each unread. I love that it, a Paperwhite, has a subtle built-in backlight, because it makes it possible to read in bed without disturbing T-. But I hate that it makes it so easy to read in bed, thereby distracting me from trying out Stimulus Control Therapy to overcome insomnia (it's 1am and I'm blogging, so go figure). And DRM -- well I just hate that. Overall, I argue myself back and forth as to whether to just embrace Kindle-osity and get reading, or to discard it completely and revert to paper. And until now, I've never been able to settle that argument.
Amazon support just helped me do so. And paper won.
What nailed it was Amazon's utterly frustrating insistence on forcing Kindle buyers to use their infamously-patented "1-click" purchase method. I'm guessing the obvious reason for doing so is the right one -- "1-click" reduces the friction of buying, so people buy more. Well I'm fed up with it. (And not just because it makes a mockery of patenting.)
The first problem is the forcing itself. As an option, fine; I imagine many, if not most people would turn it on if it was offered. But as it is, you have no choice. But why is that a problem? Well because 1-click is attached to one and only one payment method. So if you have two credit cards on your account -- e.g. one for business purchases and one for personal -- you can't easily switch between the two. (Another issue arises if you have little kids and want to control their purchases. You really can't unless you turn off the ability completely.)
But the final 1-click straw that broke this bookish camel's back was gift cards. My company gives employees (me included -- woohoo) an Amazon gift card as a birthday present. My birthday (my 21st, why?) was the other week, and I excitedly got my gift card code and applied it to my account. However, the card is for personal books, and it turned out that next book I was to buy (a half hour ago) was business, not personal. Not realizing what was about to happen, I bought the business book, only to see that Amazon had used my gift card -- my birthday present, Precious! -- to buy my employer a book! (OK, I admit, this is all made more complicated by the fact that I happen to be a founder and major shaeholder of the company, and so I am my employer ... but that's beside the point). Fortunately Kindle books can be returned for a refund. So I did that, got the money returned to my account's gift card balance, and then got onto Amazon chat support to ask how I should go about doing what I wanted to do -- buy both business and personal books from my account, given the occasional presence of gift cards.
Answer: it pretty much cannot be done. The gist of Amazon support's advice was:
- If you buy a Kindle book and there is a gift card balance on your account, the gift card balance will be used to buy the book. You cannot not use the gift card balance. HOWEVER
- You don't have to apply a gift card to the account itself. You can use it to buy books directly, thereby allowing you to not use it for a business book. HOWEVER:
- If you ever use a gift card in that way, but don't use all its value, then the remainder will be applied to your account, and from that point on all Kindle books will eat into your balance whether you like it (personal books) or not (business books). HOWEVER:
- You can get around this by having two Amazon accounts -- one for personal use, and one for business. You'd apply your gift cards to the personal one and buy personal books there, and use the other account for business books and pay for those with a credit card. HOWEVER <drum roll> OF COURSE:
- That means you HAVE TO HAVE TWO KINDLES! Since a Kindle can be associated with only one Amazon account at a time, you can't sensibly have two Amazon accounts without having two Kindles
Well done Amazon. Decision made. Kindle - trash - chuck. And with that, I'm a whole lot less inclined to bother with Amazon for books at all. Suddenly the dystopian floods augured by Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" abate leaving the gentle, babbling brook of a simpler, more thoroughly-read world.
 Ooh, I bet Amaon can feel the pain already. Urgent dispatches are almost certainly accelerating their way up the Amazon chain of command to its beleagured CEO, "Mr. Bezos, Mr. Bezos! Kelly is threatening to withdraw his business. Stock plummet imminent. Recommend we initiate the 1-Click Self Destruct Plan immediately!"
 Did you see that? Did you see what I did there? That's not an Amazon link! How sly am I?
 Yes, yes, Carr himself links to Amazon. I know. But all revolutions have to start somewhere!