Kindle sputters out: Amazon's e-readers couldn't download content for a short time

Support line reports 'high volume of contacts' about the problem

Updated Owners of Amazon's Kindle e-reader devices looking for something new to read may have had to pick up an actual book – the old-school kind, made of dead trees – for a day or so this week, as their devices would not download content.

User complaints emerged on July 3, and reports suggest Amazon responded with a suggestion that it could be 48 hours before downloads resumed.

The Register used a Kindle app on Android to verify the service was back in action in the evening of July 4, US time – and the $0.99 e-book we acquired duly downloaded.

But the incident may not be entirely resolved. We chatted with an Amazon support agent who told us "We received a high volume of contacts about downloading content on Kindle devices" and that Amazon technicians are "currently working on it."

It is unclear what caused the booktastrophe. Amazon's electronic bookstore has not changed notably in recent years and The Register has not been able to find evidence of recent feature introductions that could have gone awry. Perhaps an internal code change went wrong – a frequent cause of cloud outages.

This incident is not the only recent wobble for the Kindle ecosystem. Amazon offers a feature called "Send to Kindle" that relies on the fact that each physical Kindle and Kindle app has a unique e-mail address. Users can therefore send documents or DRM-free e-books to Kindle accounts – when the service is working.

But in late June, Send to Kindle wobbled for several days. And there have been other incidents, although most have proven brief.

Amazon dominates the e-book and e-reader markets, so issues with its service impact the wider publishing industry, too – yet another example of the e-tailer’s colossal market power. ®

UPDATED AT 0700 UTC July 8th: Amazon gto in touch to tell us that on July 3, some Kindle customers experienced an issue that impacted their ability to download e-books. "The issue was quickly resolved," we were told. We understand the 48-hour restoration advice from Amazon support may have a conservative estimate.

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