Amazon has announced that in August, a large number of older Kindle e-readers will no longer be able to access the bookstore. This means you won’t be able to browse, buy or even download free samples. Effectively, the store will be inaccessible. This will affect the Kindle 2nd Gen International, Kindle DX International, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle 4th generation, and the Kindle 5th generation. The only way you can still buy books, is by visiting the online Amazon website on a mobile internet browser or your computer, finding books you want to buy, make the purchase decision and then syncing your Kindle to fetch the new content, it is quite the workaround. Why is Amazon doing this?
I believe this whole issue has to do TLS certificates. The Amazon Bookstore sometimes updates their security and the minimum the store accepts is TLS 1.2, but it is ideal that all devices use TLS 1.3. Amazon could issue a firmware update to solve this issue, and upgrade TLS for older Kindle e-readers, but why bother? I would bet there is a small population of users that read on ten year old Kindles with poor PPI and E INK Pearl screens. The real reason why Amazon won’t issue a firmware update? It goes against a new Kindle upgrade policy.
Amazon stated late last year they will only issue security updates for four years, when the Kindle was last available for purchase on the Amazon website. This means that the current generation Kindle Basic 2019, Kindle Paperwhite 10th generation and Kindle Oasis 3 will only be supported until 2024-2026. The latest generation Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation and the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition will be supported until the end of the decade. Basically, Amazon implemented this policy as a way to get people to upgrade every few generations, and continue their investment in the Amazon ecosystem. The hardware business does not net Amazon any meaningful revenue, but their entire Kindle business centers around selling digital content, such as audiobooks, ebooks, comics, Kindle Unlimited subscriptions, as well as Kids+.
The Amazon Kindle e-readers that will be losing store access in early August, are well beyond their firmware update and servicing dates. Which means, Amazon will never issue anything to support these older models. However, Amazon is sending out emails to people who still have these old models registered on their accounts. Amazon is providing codes for a 30% discount towards a current model and a free $40 ebook credit. This softens the blow, likely anyone who is still using an older Kindle, has received lots of value out of it, and maybe it is time to update to a modern device?
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.