In Which I Attempt to Give Amazon Money

Published on .

This evening, I wanted to purchase The Ode Less Traveled, a poetry manual by Stephen Fry. I went to Amazon, noticed the Kindle version was $7, and decided to give that a shot.

I had to decide whether to log in with my account, or my mother’s. I would pay the bill myself either way, but my Kindle reader was originally hers, and I had a niggling suspicion that it would matter. I should have listened to my suspicion!

Logging into my account went smoothly, as did “purchasing” the book1. I decided to read the book on the Kindle Android app.

With the app installed, I tried once, twice, thrice
To log in as me -- but, alas, no dice.

My mood at this point was “lightly fried.” My account credentials had worked well enough for Amazon to take my money, so why wouldn’t it recognize my login?

“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just put it on the Kindle itself.”

Downloading the AZW file went smoothly, as did transferring said file to the Kindle. I went to open the book on the Kindle, and: lo and behold, this device is still registered to my mother’s account. Thus, for DRM reasons, I couldn’t open the book.

“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just re-register the Kindle to my Amazon account. My mistake, after all.”

With the file on board, I tried once, twice, thrice
To log in as me -- but, alas, no dice.

I felt helpless! I sat there typing like a gibbon, tediously switching between physical letter keys and virtual number ones, painstakingly comparing each character to the Holy Text in my password manager – and my login was repeatedly rejected.

My mood at this point was “steamed like a bun.” All this foolishness cost me 30 minutes. I gave up on the whole enterprise, initiated a refund due to “download problems,” and ordered a physical copy of the book – from another vendor, thank you very much.

A fool I was, but a fool I shall not remain. Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t bother with an ebook that has DRM. Buy it from a vendor that respects its customers, get a physical copy, or poke around the unsavory parts of the Web until you find a copy of dubious origin.

  2. I thought I knew how much I missed living 5 minutes’ walk from a university library. I was wrong.

  3. Amazon, the tech monolith, can’t do something as basic as account authorization. They happily accepted my credentials so I could spend money, then wasted the final stretch of my evening with rejections of the same credentials.


  1. I say “purchasing” because you never actually own a Kindle book: you just rent its contents indefinitely.

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