Archive for November 21, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Kindle Annotations Lost in Book Update

I’ve been reading the Steve Jobs biography on my Kindle and highlighting the interesting passages. On November 19, I received this e-mail from Amazon:

We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is now available. The version you received had image and caption layout issues that have been corrected.

You can receive the new version by replying to this email with the word "Yes" in the first line of your response. Within 2 hours, any device with an active wireless connection that is registered to your account and that has the eBook currently downloaded will be updated automatically.

In order to ensure that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading location are retained in the new version, please check to see that all of your devices that you have used to read this book are connected to a network and that their Annotations Backup settings are turned on. For help with modifying settings, go to and check the help pages for the devices or applications you are using.

My Kindle has always had annotation backups on, and it’s always on Wi-Fi. I checked with the Web site to make sure that my annotations were backed up and replied with “Yes”. Stupidly, I did not save a Web archive of the page first.

This morning, two days later, the book updated on my Kindle. I immediately saw that the reading location had reset to the beginning, and then I saw that all the highlights and notes were gone.

After chatting with Amazon this morning, the first support person said that, yes, the update did not go out until today. The support specialist researched for a long time and eventually said:

I do see in the email that you were sent where it says the highlights and such can be saved. Typically when we update content like this that information is not saved. […] Everything I have found states that when we update the content of a book the highlights, notes and saved page information are lost, and I am very, very sorry this email had the incorrect information in it. I am going to follow up with this to make sure that does not happen again.

The data is surely in Amazon’s backups somewhere, but it’s “not an option” to recover it. He offered a $10 account credit for the inconvenience. This is, I think, the only time Amazon has failed me in the last 15 or so years. I’m stunned that they would send out such an incorrect e-mail. The book is currently the #8 Kindle book (#1 on paper) so presumably this will affect many, many people. Again, the lesson is: don’t trust the cloud. Make your own backups. And don’t believe every e-mail you read.