Krazy Kat and Ignatz mouse and brick

I’d blogged the other day about the shortest Kindle sample ever. But I’d forgotten about a funny experience I’d had when I first bought my Kindle.

I hadn’t seen any illustrations on my Kindle yet – except for the screensaver images that kept surprising me every time I put down my Kindle for too long. So I’d searched for a collection of Kindle comic strips, and eventually found one of the all-time classics! Krazy Kat is a strange and surreal slapstick comic strip that first appeared in 1913 – and I’ve always loved it. It’s a simple, sweet world where the cat loves the mouse, and ordering a sample seemed like the perfect way to test out the Kindle’s graphics capabilities.

So imagine my surprise when I’d downloaded the sample to my Kindle, and discovered…nothing. Followed by this sentence.


Enjoyed the sample? Buy Now or See details for this book in the Kindle Store.

Now that’s surrealism – a zen-like sample filled with emptiness and arbitrariness. (I felt like I’d just been clobbered with a brick!) Or was it just another surreal landscape drawn by George Herriman in which everything had disappeared?

I e-mailed Amazon’s customer service (saying that I’d really just wanted to know whether my Kindle would display images of all the comic strips in the book), and in the end it still became a very positive experience. They’d promised that yes, I’d see the actual comic strips – confirming my faith in Amazon’s customer service – and reminding me that if I wasn’t satisfied, “you can return any item purchased from the Kindle Store within 7 days of purchase.”

So I finally purchased An Anthology of Krazy Kat Komics. And though it’s short, and I have to enlarge the images just to read them, I’ll always have a special affection for this ebook, because it included the first illustrations that I ever saw on my Kindle.

And also because they’d sent me the strangest Kindle sample ever.

My friend just perfectly summarized what’s so exciting about a digital reader. I’d written to him about what I like – that “It’s just so cool that you can think of a book, and then have it beamed down to your lap within seconds!” And he wrote back…


“Little bit scary in fact. Too easy!

In the bookstore I tend to wander around and think about if I *really* need a book. On the Nook, it is a few clicks away!”

Yes, he bought a Nook instead of a Kindle. But ultimately we both discovered another advantage that the Kindle has over the Nook – and as his next e-mail explained, it’s exactly the opposite problem!

Something I don’t like about the Nook: In order to delete some Barnes and Noble content, you have to do it on their website!

When the Nook synchronizes with the website, it will archive the materials. Seems complicated, mostly because it is a little complicated. You can delete files via the USB connection…but it would be easier to have a “get rid of this” or “archive” button on the user interface.

How’s that for ironic? Both of these digital readers can download books instantly. The Kindle’s advantage is that it can make them go away instantly!

(Just open the menu when you’re reading any item, and select “Delete This Item”. Or go to the Home Page and select “Content Manager” to check off ebooks to be deleted as a group…)

That’s what I typed into Google the day my Kindle died. And surprisingly, Amazon was no help. Their only suggestion for a possible cause was…a low battery.


1. Plug the Kindle into a wall outlet.
2. Ensure the Kindle is charging (the indicator light should be on).
3. Wait 2 minutes.
4. If necessary unplug the Kindle and reset by moving and holding the power switch for 15 seconds before releasing it.

That didn’t solve the problem. And according to other posts on the web, that wasn’t even the only possible solution. One web site revealed that it was possible to perform a “soft reset” by pressing three keys at the same time: Alt, R, and Shift (the upwards-pointing arrow). And when that didn’t work, I went on to their next suggestion: the hard reset.


Turn your Kindle over.
Take the grey cover off.
You see a small hole labeled, “Reset.”
Take a paper clip and press it in the hole.
Hold for 5-10 seconds.

It didn’t work — my Kindle’s screen was still frozen on a blank Wikipedia page. But the site had one more piece of advice…


Again, if that doesn’t work, try again with the Kindle plugged into the charger.

And that worked! I’ve never been so happy to see the Amazon logo smiling up at me from the grey screen of my no-longer-lifeless Kindle. I let it continue charging, and eventually checked to see if would actually display my home page. And there it was…

Including the Charles Dickens novel I’d been reading just before my Kindle went blank!

The Day the Kindle Died

April 19th, 2010

I’d been reading a free Charles Dickens novel — Hard Times — and realized I was more interested in learning some details about Charles Dickens’ life. Charles Dickens died in 1870. My Kindle died on April 18, 2010…

I’d pressed the search button on my Kindle, and then used my favorite shortcut — typing @wiki to begin a search on Wikipedia. And soon I was reading another page of trivia about Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop straight from Wikipedia.


Dickens fans were reported to storm the piers of New York City, shouting to arriving sailors (who may have read the last installment in Britain), “Is Little Nell alive?”

In 2007, many newspapers claimed the excitement at the release of the last volume The Old Curiosity Shop was the only historical comparison that could be made to the excitement at the release of the last Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I hit the back button, but my wireless connection had blipped out. The Kindle wasn’t even able to reload the page about Charles Dickens (which I’d already been reading). Frustrated, I pressed the Back key, and the Home key, but nothing happened. I even tried pressing Alt-P — to at least see if I could make it play music!

“She’s not answering my helm,” I told my girlfriend — doing my best impersonation of either Captain Kirk or an old British sailing captain. I turned my Kindle off, but even that didn’t affect its screen. It continued displaying the blank beginning of the Wikipedia page which it hadn’t been able to download.

My beloved Kindle…was dead.

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next!

(Oh boy. My first blog post with a cliff-hanger ending…)