The Amazon Kindle was one of those devices that completely changed the way we live. Paper books became an endangered species and other manufacturers rushed to produce copies of the Kindle so they could get in on the action. If you own one, did you know you can use a Kindle without tying it to your Amazon account?
Amazon sells Kindle as a loss leader. This means they take a hit on the upfront cost of the device hoping to make it back and then some on selling books, magazines and other media you want to use on it. That’s why Kindle is so insistent on you registering your Amazon account when you first boot up the device. It wants you to be able to buy whenever the mood strikes as this is where Amazon makes the real money.
You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to though. It’s your device, use it your way.
Use a Kindle without registering an Amazon account
While it isn’t obvious, you can get into your Kindle without linking it to your Amazon account or creating a new account. It does limit the utility of the Kindle though. You won’t be able to buy books or magazines or use a lot of the free stuff Amazon likes to give away. You won’t be able to use Collections either. You will be able to use it as a standalone e-reader though.
If you install Calibre onto your Kindle, you can transfer books and media from your computer onto it and use it as a basic tablet.
When you first start your Kindle, leave WiFi turned off or don’t connect it to your WiFi network. Instead of being forced to register with Amazon or create a new account, you will be given the option to register later. It is this option you can use to not register your Kindle.
As long as you can ignore the prompts to register and install an eBook reader of some kind, you can use the Kindle as much as you like.
Some newer versions of Kindle force you to connect to WiFi. Option one is to hit the X in the corner of the WiFi setup screen to generate a ‘Set Up Later’ option. Choose this to begin using your Kindle without registering.
Option two is to select to create a new Amazon account and you should see a ‘Set Up Later’ option in the bottom left of the next screen. Select that and you’re in the same place.
Deregistering your Kindle from your Amazon account
If you have already registered your Kindle, you can deregister it if you like. It will limit its functionality to being an eBook reader but you can still get your reading done on it. Again, you won’t be able to use Collections, buy books or media from Amazon or download their freebies.
- Open your Kindle and select Settings.
- Select My Account and then Deregister.
- Confirm your choice at the popup menu.
You will be signed out of your Amazon account and will need to use third party apps to read books and do whatever else it is you do on your Kindle.
What data does Amazon collect about Kindle use?
If you have the patience to read Amazon’s privacy page, it reads like a generous company who wouldn’t dream of spying on what you do with your Kindle. Anecdotal evidence and some investigations by various people is mixed to say the least.
This page over at Stack Exchange lists a bunch of entries including logs captured from Kindle when it was connected to WiFi. For the most part, the data looks benign and anonymized. Some of it was identifiable though.
This page over at Investopedia lists some of the many ways Amazon tracks you, including your Kindle usage. Again, it’s mainly about business and your reading habits rather than anything serious.
I think it safe to assume that Amazon will track your purchases, reading habits, time using the Kindle and time reading specific books or magazines. This all feeds into its recommendations engine and helps it sell you more stuff. Remember, Kindle is a loss-leader and Amazon wants their coin.
Some users have said that Amazon tracks books not bought from its platform and sideloaded using Calibre or other eBook reading app. I think this is likely true too. The Amazon OS may not be able to tell the difference between a book bought on its platform or a book loaded from your PC.
I don’t think there are any darker motives for Amazon to track your habits. It’s a moneymaking machine and does what it needs to do to make that money. Nothing more, nothing less.
Do you know what data Amazon uses to track us on Kindle? Tell us below if you do!