Gizmodo points out a drawback of subscribing to magazines through the Kindle: when you cancel your subscription, you lose not only future issues of the magazine, but the previous issues you already paid for as well. Furthermore, you can’t transfer old issues to a new device if you’re switching over.

This seems to be a rather serious flaw in the subscription method. It would be one thing if a subscription essentially gave you access to all issues, past and present, so that if you were to resubscribe you’d be able to read everything once more. That seems like a more logical way to handle magazine subscriptions for an electronic device—similar to the way that electronic journal and magazine archive subscriptions are handled for libraries. But this system seems to include the worst of both worlds: you only get the issues that come out while you’re subscribing, but still lose everything when you stop.

Editor’s note: see clarification of the issue in the comments below.  PB


  1. “…But this system seems to include the worst of both worlds: you only get the issues that come out while you’re subscribing, but still lose everything when you stop.”

    No, it’s even worse than that.

    I have a kindle subscription to Gizmodo and two others as well.

    My routine experience is that you don’t even get the current articles either, especially if the article looks interesting. Instead you get the headline and a couple of sentences, followed by an internet link for the rest of the article. Following the link on the kindle is just about the most futile action that it is possible to imagine, even if you have the Sprint wireless already turned ON (original DX).

    The subscription contents seem to be finely calibrated to be just barely useful enough so as to not want to cancel the minimally priced subscriptions.

    Regards, Don

  2. Chris, this is absolutely not true. I went to the Gizmodo article and they don’t cite a thing, but the writer thanks ‘Gaby’ …

    (Magazines and Newspapers are treated the same way by Amazon.)

    Background on where I’m coming from.
    In May 2009, I wrote a blog article about some dismaying problems with the Kindle periodical editions that I felt Amazon needed to correct. They did not correct them and ignored complaints — UNTIL Kindle for Android came out recently and included subscriptions to periodicals (something that the Kindle apps for other devices don’t do.)

    BEFORE, 2007-2010, a Kindle-edition periodical was keyed to only one Kindle, and NO other Kindle on your account could read that newspaper or magazine. This was a publisher restriction, they said.
    Two people on the same account in a household could not share a periodical on two Kindles the way that they can with books.

    WORSE, one person using a larger Kindle at home could not download that newspaper to that person’s smaller Kindle used for commuting (as an example). The restriction was ridiculous.

    Example: New Yorker
    To compound it all, if you found you had a defective Kindle and got a replacement OR if you upgraded to a -later- Kindle, you could not move your older editions of the New Yorker to the new Kindle.
    You essentially no longer had them.
    The keying was for one Kindle and old issues cannot be kept on the server for more than 7 regular issues – so those could not be re-downloaded for your newly purchased Kindle, which was absolutely maddening.
    If you used the issues as a database to search and read topics of interest -later- you lost that database (unless you removed the DRM). Print editions can be kept on shelves and browsed but you lost old issues if you had to change Kindles for any reason.

    That was BEFORE. Here’s my blog article from May 2009 explaining the problem back then and complaining about it, with links to forum complaints.

    The problem probably did not get much attention at Amazon, relatively speaking, because there don’t seem to be a great many customers who care about back issues. But there was a way that Amazon could have taken care of this, by retroactively replacing the old-Kindle-key with a key for the new Kindle’s data field. There could be ways to batch-replace.

    NEVER, though, have back-issues on a Kindle been deleted in my experience due to cancellation of a subscription.

    I subscribe to a few periodicals and still have old issues I wanted to keep although I cancelled the subscriptions. They remain on that Kindle after cancellation. Mine go back to 2008. ‘Gaby’ or someone relaying bad information to her is probably confusing inability to GET back issues onto another Kindle or doesn’t understand you need to opt to “keep” very old ones as they pile up.

    TODAY (ever since the Kindle app for Android), each of my Kindles on the same account has access to each current issue, and the main Kindle designated gets the current issue on the Home screen while the other Kindles have the most recent issue-titles in their Archived-Items folder. You click to download them if you want.

    With old issues (beyond the last 7 issues released) not kept on Amazon servers, you can’t (re)download old ones to any Kindle. So if you want to keep these nowadays, on each of your Kindles, you should download current ones to each Kindle that you want used to read them. They’ll remain there, with one exception that’s part of the periodicals process.

    If the Kindle owner reads the User’s Guide, the owner will know that to keep your Kindle free of massive daily-newspaper build-up, on a device with a folder for ALL subscriptions, Amazon gives you a warning when a very-old issue is about to be auto-deleted from the Kindle. It’s marked like this: “(!)” and you get a few days to click to KEEP the issue forever.
    These older ones are kept in “Periodicals” folder for awhile, as I said. You have to look in there to ‘manage’ your subscriptions.

    If Kindle owners don’t read the manual and don’t know this, they will think the old issues just disappeared. Most don’t actually want to keep older editions of newspapers. But I do want to keep the New Yorker magazines. So I do. I also keep many NYTimes so I can search the Kindle for articles on a given news topic.

    I subscribed to a new 60-day trial for the NY Times this last year but cancelled it because the price was too high. I still have all the old issues because I chose to keep them. I looked in the Periodical folder the other day, to find several warnings for some daily periodicals on my Kindle from months ago for my local paper that I might want to ‘keep’ rather than delete or have deleted for me.
    Normally they’d be auto-deleted but the Kindle has not been doing the actual deletions lately.

    That Gizmodo would print this story the way it’s written without citing anything or checking the facts is amazing to me.

  3. Andrys: Excellent description of the way it actually works. I stopped subscribing to the NY Times Book Review back in December, and the issues of December 12, 19 and 26 are still in the periodicals folder of my Kindle.

    Obviously were I to switch Kindles, those would no longer be available on the new one.

  4. Andrys,

    While on this subject, a question :

    On my original DX, if I read the current issue of Gizmodo, for example, I’ve never found a way to go back to the beginning except with repeated presses of the PREVIOUS button. Since this is impractical, I always turn ON the wireless, let my three daily subscriptions download, turn OFF the wireless, then read and delete the newly downloaded issues.

    What, if anything, am I missing?

    Thanks, Don

  5. I thought you could backup non archived items to a computer to put on a new or reset kindle?
    And woudn’t non archived items include non current periodicals as well as any material on your kindle not purchased from Amazon,eg emailed items or project gutenberg books etc?

  6. Don,
    I’m not clear on the question. You said that when reading the current issue of Gizmodo, for example, you’ve not found a way to “go back to the beginning except with repeated presses of the PREVIOUS button” you’ve then (re)downloaded current editions ?

    If you’re talking about finding the beginning of the current edition, there’s an action line at the bottom. The middle option can be clicked on to get you “View Sections & Articles”

    If you click on “prev article” it takes you back to the start of the previous article and if you click on “next article” you can jump to the beginning of the next one.

    The middle option is the best option for being able to jump back to the first article of that edition. Putting the line-cursor in the left Section headings area, you’ll see the articles listed at the right for that section and you can move to the right to select a specific article in that section.

    But I’m not sure that’s the question you had. I’ll come back to see if I missed what you meant.

  7. Mark,
    Yes, the Nook and Kindle both keep the older articles after you’ve cancelled.

    I have a NookColor and still have the older issues of cancelled subscriptions. The Kindle keeps them (I have some. from cancelled subscriptions, that are 3 years old), but a difference will be that instead of having issues pile up (especially newspapers) the Kindle, while keeping back issues, gives you an alert that there are back issues that you haven’t designated should be kept on your Kindle (forever).
    Those alerts are in the Periodicals folder. After some time they are deleted if you haven’t opted to ‘keep’ them. My recent experience is that they’ve not been deleting them for some reason.

  8. Andrys,

    “…If you’re talking about finding the beginning of the current edition, there’s an action line at the bottom. The middle option can be clicked on to get you “View Sections & Articles”…”

    This isn’t quite applicable to what I see. The middle option is VIEW ARTICLE LIST and all it does is display the beginnings of three articles to a page. This triple display can be paged (next/previous), but this would still take forever to get back to the beginning from the end.

    Thanks, Don

  9. Don,
    You have a blog subscription then ? The new editions replace the old ones, rather than add to them. I have NY Times Latest News and that’s treated as a blog, with no sections, only articles, usually about 10.

    Gizmodo probably has more. I think most blogs have 10 articles at a time for browsing and the earliest article goes off when a new one comes in. That makes 2-3 pages to do a Next or Prev, so maybe that’s why they do it. My blog has 25 at a time which makes 3-5 pages depending on what kind of Kindle one has and the font size you chose with Aa-key.

    The fastest way is to click on ‘View Article List’ and page back on the -list-, which should be no more than a few pages, but if Gizmodo really does show you only a few lines and you have to click links to get more, then maybe there are a lot more list-pages in that one. Amazon used to have a rule that you had to have full articles and not just a few lines with links to the rest of the article.

    The feed-style (full article or teaser with a link to ‘more’) is chosen by the blog maker, not Amazon.

    Sorry I don’t know of any better way. The blogs tend to be small enough that it hadn’t occurred to me to look for a way. The important thing is to do ‘prev’ on a List of articles rather than when in an article.

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