Gripe: Amazon Kindle Library

It is simply absurd that in order to change the title or author of a book or document in your Kindle Library, you have to delete the book/document and reload it assigning a new title or author at that time. You cannot edit the title or author of anything already in the library.

I could understand - somewhat - if this capability only existed in the web interface to the library (Amazon Sign-In), and not on Kindle devices or in Kindle apps, since “extra” coding would be needed, but to not allow it to at least be done in the centralized online library location is inexcusable. Amazon has had over 10 years to remedy this, but they apparently don’t care.

Note that I’m not talking about DRM protected books or other books you might buy from Amazon. I only care about books/documents that you upload yourself in EPUB, PDF, or other allowed formats.

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I ran into this myself, as it grabs some information about the author and uses it to generate content for marketing, and it wasn’t appropriate.

The sticking point is, I think, the ISBN. That’s a unique identifier, and it is tied to the book and its author(s) in a place that is NOT controlled by Amazon. The real issue is not the bit that can’t change but the way they tie it to so many other things in their system.

No, the ISBN is not relevant here. This is data the the user enters when they use Send To Kindle to add something to the library. It can even be a PDF that you just created yourself, and yet you can’t change the title or author strings after the file has been added. You must delete it first, and then resend it, changing the values as you want.

When I added the content I had to enter the ISBN and Author information. I had my own set of ISBNs.

It was clear that I wasn’t going to add the POD content without the ISBN.

This is not unfamiliar stuff for me. They have an automated process that ties the author, ISBN, and content together.

I understand that the Kindle digital-only books have an optional ISBN. I could be wrong but that’s not entirely unlikely.

The metadata entry process is common to both the digital and the print versions. My reading of their problem is that while they COULD decouple them for the digital-only, it would almost double the complexity of their code to handle that metadata.

They aren’t going to refactor that code.

Again, there is no ISBN here, and even if there were, the Send To Kindle interface gives me complete control of the text for the author and title fields. For example, this is the Calibre Quick Start Guide:

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They HAVE to have an ISBN for any POD or other published work. They can get away without one for Kindle, but when I went through the process the optional ISBN field was prominent.

I didn’t say that the Kindle book had to have one. What I am explaining is that they have one logical path for creating the metadata for the book. They don’t want a second one. For the printed version the author and the title are locked in place before the content can be added. I don’t think this was the right way to handle the problem. You are actually agreeing that it isn’t the right way to handle it.

They have a solution that works for every other book apart from the purely digital, and they adapted it badly, but they’re unlikely to rewrite that code. At the root of it is the inflexibility of the ISBN system, designed for print publications. This affects you even when you do not have an ISBN requirement. The digital books are different, but not sufficiently so that they would bother to rewrite their systems.

I just don’t understand what you’re saying. Can I upload a book/document using Send To Kindle that does have an ISBN associated with it? And if so, does the interface then prevent me from modifying the title and author at upload time?

The interface will always lock the title & author data.

It locks it because for the printed books, it has to do that. The ISBN uniquely identifies the book in that specific version. It is not optional; that’s the way printed books work.

So what Amazon did when they set up the kindle, digital-only books, was to put them in through the same process, even if there is no requirement for the ISBN.

That’s the “why” of the lock. Very lazy of them. Since they leverage most of their site’s meta-information for marketing and author pages off that information, its being unchangeable caused me to use up a version and an ISBN number in a resubmission of my own book.

I have never tried to use “Send to Kindle” as a process for creating a book, so I can’t actually comment on that detail, but as a far too experienced software engineer, I am quite confident about the reason why they lock those fields when they do.


These are not necessarily published works.

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Ok, so you’re saying that once a book/epub/pdf/etc is uploaded, the ISBN and Title and Author are “locked”. If indeed this is perhaps a holdover from the earliest days of the Kindle when only published books with a meaningful ISBN were capable of being loaded, then the current inability to edit the title and author would be explained. And I suppose they must be assigning some random or dummy ISBN to PDFs and epubs that don’t naturally have one. Perhaps there’s a hex 0xFFFFFFFF equivalent (or a range of such otherwise invalid numbers) to mark an ISBN as made up. And maybe the ISBN is even the primary key in the Kindle library database.

But software can and should be changed to keep up with added capabilities! This isn’t rocket science, it’s database coding.

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Are you familiar with Calibre for managing your Kindle books? When I load new books into Calibre and update their metadata, I can then go into the Calibre interface to the Kindle and match the book to a book in the Calibre database. When I do this, it updates the title and author in the Kindle to match the title and author in the Calibre database. In the Calibre database, everything is fully editable.


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Thanks. I’ve actually recently been using Calibre to convert some large EPUB files that Amazon is unable to import (converting them to AZW3 format and back to EPUB often enables Amazon to import them). I’ve never tried to connect a Kindle reader to my PC to allow Calibre to access it. I’m a bit nervous about doing that and messing things up. Is Calibre actually accessing the online Kindle library or only the Kindle device?

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Calibre has its own database and copy of the books on your PC. The Kindle connects to the PC with a USB cable and Calibre recognizes it. I also use Calibre Companion on my phone to have a searchable database. Sweet. I am at 2415 books.

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How does whatever books you might have in the online Amazon Kindle library stay in sync with the Calibre library on the disk of a PC (or Mac)? If I use Calibre to update a book on a kindle device - title, author, format, etc. - how does that updated info make its way to the online library? I’d rather not have a mixture of databases, and would like the online library to be the only master copy of all my books and documents.

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By On-line, do you mean what you see at If so, I don’t know. If you mean what you see on the Kindle, then the matching I referred to will keep the Calibre data and the Kindle data in sync.

Yes, online in your Amazon Kindle library at Amazon Sign-In

I’m looking for a way to update incorrect title and author data there without having to delete and reimport books and docs. It may in fact not be possible, as bjchip has explained.

I think you are stuck. For me, the Amazon digital content is only good for things sourced from Amazon and the Calibre database is the authoritative reference. With Calibre as the authoritative reference, one can make anything on the Kindle match. One example of this for me is that I use several collections on the Kindle including To Read and Read. I put books in To Read when I have a short term interest in reading them and move them to Read when I have finished the book. I also have a Skip collection for things I decide I am not going to read, typically because it is a type of mystery that appeals to my wife, but not to me. When I do my periodic updates of new books, I will delete all Read and Skip books from the Kindle, so if I ever want to go back to them again, it is the Calibre database which provides the source.

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Maybe I will become persuaded that keeping everything in Calbre is the way to go, but I’m not there yet. I also have a bunch of stuff in the Apple Books app, which is another source of frustration.

We have stuff from a bunch of sources, including a fair number of authors. I manage all of it in Calibre just fine.

One more question for you: is it possible to store your entire Calibre library in cloud storage, so that it treats it as the centralized master copy?