Kindle and Kindle Fire Content Sync Issues

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If you’re reading a doorstop-sized tome like this one and frequently switching between devices as you read, you’re gonna want to keep the devices synced up because otherwise, you’ll be spending a LOT of time trying to find the place where you left off each time you open the book on a different device.

I recently got a question on Facebook regarding content synchronization between devices. It seemed that since the most recent Kindle update, this lady’s Kindle books had not been synchronizing properly so that the ‘last page read’ was correct when she opened the same ebook in the Kindle Reader app on her Galaxy III Android phone. This was most likely a wifi availability issue; I gave her a detailed explanation of how content synchronization works between devices, and figured I should share that information here, too.

 

How Synchronization Across Devices Works For Amazon Content

Synchronization of Amazon content can keep all your various devices up to date on where you left off in an ebook, streaming video, streaming MP3 album, audiobook or game app. However, the way this works doesn’t seem to be understood by many people who use Amazon devices and/or apps.

Each time you exit an ebook, video, MP3 album, audiobook, game app, etc., whether you were using the content on a Kindle / Kindle Fire or on some other device via one of Amazon’s apps (e.g., Cloud Player app, Kindle Reader app, Instant Video app, etc. that can be used on Apple and Android devices, computers and other devices), your ‘placeholder’ information is sent via wifi or cell signal to the home base, on Amazon’s servers. The next time you access that same content, whether on the same device as last time or on a different device, Amazon sends the placeholder information to your current device so that you can pick up where you left off.

But placeholder information can only be sent to and from Amazon when the device you’re using has a wifi or cell connection.

 

A Real Life Example

I keep my Kindle Fire in airplane mode at all times other than when I actually need to download something, because airplane mode switches off wifi and conserves battery power.

I started reading a new ebook yesterday on my Fire; when I closed the book, my ‘last page read’ wasn’t sent to home base on Amazon’s servers because my Fire’s wifi was turned off. If I were to download and open the same book in the Kindle Reader app on my iPad right now, I know the book will open on page one, as if I’d never begun reading it at all, because Amazon never got the ‘last page read’ data from my Fire and therefore couldn’t send it to my iPad. If the home base at Amazon doesn’t have that information, Amazon can’t possibly update any of my other devices with the correct ‘last page read’.

If you own both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook edition of American Gods, the Whispersync for Voice feature will allow you to switch back and forth between the Kindle book and the audiobook without ever losing your place—but only if a wifi connection is available to pass placeholder information back and forth from Amazon.

 

To Stay In Sync, BOTH Devices Need To Be Connected To Amazon

Imagine I’d already downloaded the ebook to both my Fire and my iPad a few days ago, then began reading it on my Fire yesterday, with my Fire’s wifi turned on. When I closed the book, the ‘last page read’ data would’ve been sent to home base at Amazon. Now imagine that I open the same book in the Kindle Reader app on my iPad, but that my iPad’s wifi is NOT turned on. Home base at Amazon may have the most recent ‘last page read’ data for the book, but so long as my iPad’s wifi is off, Amazon has no way of sending that information to the Kindle Reader app on my iPad.

 

Keeping Your Stuff In Sync While Still Conserving Battery Power

Since I generally limit my content use to my Fire, the syncing issue is more or less a NON-issue for me. But if you tend to switch from device to device and need to keep them all synched up, you can sync your content manually to keep things up to date across devices without wasting battery life.

With this method, you can still keep your device’s wifi off to conserve battery power. When you’re done with a given session of reading, watching a video or so forth, turn wifi back on and do a manual sync.

On your Kindle or Kindle Fire, you can do this from the main menu. On a Fire, use a downward swipe near the top of your carousel screen to open the main menu, where you can access both wifi and sync functions. On a monochrome Kindle, use the appropriate button or tap near the top of your screen to open the menu and access wifi and sync functions. When the sync is complete, turn wifi off again.

On other devices, open the device’s “settings” panel to turn wifi back on, then open the app menu for the app you’re currently using (e.g., Kindle Reader app, Cloud Player app, etc.) to access the manual sync function for that specific app.

One caveat: manual sync is never as fast or reliable as the automatic kind, so you may want to have all affected devices turned on and connected to wifi when you do your manual sync. That way, you can verify the placeholder information has been updated on the second (or third, or fourth, etc.) device before you turn off wifi on the first one.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Comment by Sandra Tanksley:

    Thanks for this valuable information…..answers a lot of unasked but often wondered questions… ;o)

  2. Comment by Paula:

    I understand how the syncing works, but your answer doesn’t explain why my Kindle Fire has stopped syncing to the furthest page read. My iPad, iPhone and original Kindle all sync properly. My Fire is connected to the internet (I see the internet bars at the top and I can download books and app updates) but it won’t sync, even if I try to do a manual sync. Have you heard of this happening with anyone else? It worked for the first two years or so but stopped recently. Have you heard of any problems with recent updates which may have caused this?

    • Comment by Mom:

      Paula –
      If you’re reading the same book on more than one device, syncing can be a problem. If a given device is NOT connected to the internet at the time you stop reading, or the connection is too weak to send any data, the ‘furthest page read’ data has no way to get back to Amazon’s cloud servers. That’s where the ‘furthest page read’ information needs to be in order for your other devices to fetch it. Similarly, if the ‘furthest page read’ HAS been send to Amazon’s cloud, but then you open the book to read on a device with no internet connection, that device may not have received the ‘furthest page read’ data.

      If neither of these scenarios seems to explain your issue, I recommend you contact Amazon Kindle support.

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