Amazon-Paperwhite1Want ePub for your Paperwhite? Or maybe a wider choice of fonts than the pitiful selection Amazon offers?

In the past at least, Paperwhite owners could install tweaks. But Amazon has thwarted them with evil upgrades, and that’s not the only hassle. Here’s a warning from dpbmobi, a MobileRead member who couldn’t use his PW 1 after the latest upgrade:

…Keep your Kindle setting to Airplane Mode ON – disable wireless.

Last night my Kindle Paperwhite 1 was connected to Wi-Fi and Amazon downloaded, without notification and without asking permission, an upgrade to Version This version locks in bloatware and changes your reader settings. It also disables any jailbreaks or fixes you may have added on to your device. This upgrade cannot be reversed and cannot be circumvented as of this posting.

I am letting fellow members know what has happened because this upgrade has made it impossible for me to continue reading my legally purchased ePub books on Kindle using the software that the incredibly generous and inventive people on this site have developed. I want to prevent as many of you from making the same mistake I did.

I spent hours last night trying to fix this, more time today demanding that Amazon downgrade my version again, and filing a complain against their underhanded tactics, to no avail. My only hope is that some ingenious person out there will develop some sort of workaround.

The only hacks I used were to add extra fonts and have an ePub reader. Now I can’t even do those things. And I have all sorts of garbage loaded on my device. And some of my books have been deleted. I know there is software out there to prevent upgrades, so that might work for some of you. But it’s too late for me. I will probably have to try to sell my Kindle and buy a Kobo….

Imagine—first Amazon gives you a limited choice of fonts and restricts you to its proprietary formats. And then it punishes you if you try to fix these rather serious deficiencies.

Amazon’s controlling ways are one reason why I’m concerned about the company’s new dominance of the textbook scene in New York City schools. Think of students with learning disabilities and other special needs. I myself have begged, begged, and begged Amazon for the choice of all-bold text. Silence. I want text to speech in E Ink Kindles. Silence. We supposedly live in an era of expanded choices, thanks to the miracles of tech. But all too often, Amazon and its marketers seem to take us back to the old Henry Ford days of, "Any color as long as its black."

Look, I’m  a huge fan of the Amazon’s e-reader hardware in other regards, and I’m a steady customer of Amazon Prime; I love Amazon’s positives. But if the company is as customer-centric as the press makes it out to be, then why can’t I have all-bold—not to mention ePub and other goodies that dpbmobi wanted? The e-reader market is big enough for Amazon to serve a number of niches. In fact, it would be bigger if Amazon did.

Detail: Dpbmobi may yet be able to rescue his PW. But his story should still serve as a warning.


  1. With my 2nd generation eInk Kindle, I found that my large number of ebooks was frequently freezing my Kindle, so I learned early on to leave WiFi off and load books via USB. I back them up using Calibre anyway, so this is a pretty easy workaround. If Amazon can’t access your device, they can’t mess with it.

  2. I’m not sure if I’d call this a horror story. When you jailbreak, you take risks. Maybe you’ll brick your device, maybe you’ll miss out on later features not compatible with your jailbreak, and, if you let updates sneak in on you, maybe your jailbreak perks will be themselves broken by an update. If you crack the cover and void the warranty, you deal with some consequences…

  3. I know it’s not much, but you can get some protection by jail-breaking an older-model epaper Kindle. Amazon hasn’t upgraded my Kindle 3 in years and seems to have forgotten it. There’s no danger Amazon will force a destructive upgrade on me.

    It was also the last to ship with text-to-speech, which is a big reason why I’m holding on to it. Why pay for a vital feature downgrade?

    Ebay has quite a few Kindle 3’s for sale from $20 up. The fact that some are going for about $60 suggests there’s still substantial demand. Here’s an ebay article on buying older Kindle ereaders that has good advice about which model to get.

    –Mike Perry, Inkling Books

  4. On the related theme of mobile device updates when they are an absolute necessity—to fix horrid security bugs—there’s this article at Motherboard:

    People complain about iPhone/iPad software being a “walled garden,” but the prompt attention of a gardener can come handy when there’s a bug infestation. The key difference between Android and iOS is that Apple can push out an update on its own initiative, bypassing all cellular carriers. Google can’t do that with Android.
    “This is the fundamental difference between Android and iPhone. When there’s a bug on iOS, Apple patches it and can push an update to all iPhone users as soon as it’s ready, no questions asked.

    When the same thing happens with Android, Google patches and then… god knows when the AT&Ts, Verizons, HTCs, and Sonys of the world will decide it’s important enough that they should care and send you the update with the patch (though to their credit, they’re starting to care, mostly because having an updated OS is now seen as a competitive advantage).”
    I believe there are hardware patches that Apple can force onto iPhones with users having no say, but users can turn off the auto-update function and upgrade iOS and all apps only when they so choose.

    Android users can go the jail-break route and do their own upgrades, but that isn’t for the fait of heart:
    “Or you can root your phone and install the excellent and more swiftly updated Android-based operating system CyanogenMod on it. This is a good alternative, but it’s not trivial to install CyanogenMod, and updates for certain phones depend on volunteers, so, again, you might not get them as soon as you’d wish.”
    You might do what I do and buy an used iPhone, perhaps local through Craigslist. The regular hardware upgrades means there’s a lively market in used iPhones. The $210 I spent for my iPhone 5 is the best money I’ve ever spent for a digital device since I bought a Kaypro IV for $1500 long ago.

  5. The person jailbroke his Kindle to include a ePub reader and to allow custom fonts, but forgot to disable future software updates. He should have listened to others when they suggest disabling updates.
    FYI, when Kindles get updated, it replaces the old OS and any hacks that have been done to it.
    Also, he can use calibre to convert ePub to AMZ3. Sadly, there is no workaround for custom fonts with the 5.6.x OS.

  6. Allowing to have more fonts in 2015 is not a bad idea. I have another issue I also want to hack my kindle to have more languages available on Bing translate. Why the hell is limited on kindle to specific ones? If they using Bing translator as translator engine all responsibilities of wrong translations goes to the Bing, so why do you not allowed translations to all possible languages on Bing? I need to ad specific language so I need to hack it. Well played Amazon well played…..

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