Amazon Adds Your Favorite Songs to the Cloud

Amazon had a big announcement on Thursday — especially if you own a Kindle. They introduced AutoRip, “a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs they purchase from Amazon.” Now when you buy a music CD from Amazon, they’ll automatically add digital versions of every song for you into Amazon’s “Cloud Player”. And to inaugurate this new feature, I discovered that Amazon actually went back in time, and delivered digital versions of songs I’d purchased more than 10 years ago!

“You may have noticed that songs from 8 CDs you have purchased from Amazon were added to your Cloud Player library,” read the e-mail that Amazon sent me. “This means that high-quality MP3 versions of these songs are available for you to play or download from Cloud Player for FREE.” There’s a music tab on the Kindle Fire, but you can also enjoy the music on most of the e-ink Kindles, too. Just use your USB cord to upload the mp3s onto any Kindle that has audio capability!

In fact, you don’t even need a Kindle to enjoy the new digital music. There’s an “Amazon Mp3” app that’s available for free for most smartphones, including the iPhone, the iPad, and Android phones. I like listening to music at work, but I hadn’t gotten around to uploading any mp3s to my new smartphone — and that’s where the app really comes in handy. One day at work, I discovered that the mp3s that I’d bought earlier from Amazon were already waiting for me on their server.

You can tell that Amazon’s excited about this feature. “What would you say if you bought music CDs from a company 15 years ago,” explained Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “and then 15 years later that company licensed the rights from the record companies to give you the MP3 versions of those CDs…and then to top it off, did that for you automatically and for free? Well, starting today, it’s available to all of our customers – past, present, and future – at no cost. We love these opportunities to do something unexpected for our customers!”

And of course, Amazon’s press release took a shot at the way digital music is being sold by Apple. “In many cases, customers can buy an AutoRip CD, including the free digital copy, for less than they would pay for only the digital album at iTunes,” their press release boasted Thursday. But they also touted an even simpler advantage. “No more waiting for the CD to arrive!”

I was so impressed, I had to check the fine print to make sure — but their offer really is as good as it sounds, going back more than 14 years. “Customers who have purchased AutoRip CDs at any time since Amazon first opened its Music Store in 1998 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries,” explains Amazon announcement, “also automatically and for free. More than 50,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip, and more titles are added all the time – customers can just look for the AutoRip logo.”

Once back in 2003 I bought myself a two-CD compilation of 32 songs by the Beach Boys — and this weekend, I noticed that every single one had turned up in my Cloud Player as a digital .mp3. Next time I’m listening to music at work, that ought to make things a lot more cheerful.

Amazon Announces a New Way to Send Stuff to Your Kindle

Download Amazon's new Send to Kindle software app

Amazon has quietly announced a new application. There’s now an easier way to get your own documents onto your Kindle. Just download and install Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” software onto your PC (by pointing your computer’s browser to “Support for Mac is coming soon,” Amazon promises further down the page…

Once you’ve installed it, a “send to Kindle” choice appears whenever you right-click on a file in Windows Explorer. And “send to Kindle” also appears as a choice on the “Print” menu in Microsoft Word, “or in the print dialogue of any Windows application.” In the past, you had to e-mail your documents to the e-mail address which Amazon had created for your Kindle. Or you could also connect your USB cord to your PC, and then transfer documents by connecting the other end to your Kindle.

This was seems much more convenient, and it might get me to use my Kindle for more than just reading ebooks I’ve downloaded from “Kindle Personal Documents Service makes it easy to take your personal documents with you,” Amazon explains at the top of another web page at, promising that it eliminates the need for a print-out!

I say Amazon “quietly” announced the news, because I only found out about it from a post on their “Kindle Daily” blog. And they also suggested another way you can use Amazon’s servers to manage files that you want to store. “You can also simply archive documents in your Kindle Library for re-download later. Your last page read along with bookmarks, notes and highlights are automatically synchronized for your documents (with the exception of PDFs) across your Kindle devices and supported Kindle reading apps .”

Part of me wonders if Amazon is up to something. Once your personal documents are stored on Amazon, it becomes a part of your life – and then it’s even harder to switch to a competing digital reader! You’d have to transfer all the individual documents — and more importantly, you’d feel a personal attachment to your Kindle. “It’s not just that device where I downloaded 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It’s also where I stored that draft of an important manuscript that I’m trying to finish…”

I think Amazon has concluded they’ve got a real business reason to encourage their customers to store documents “in the cloud.” The new, trendy concept in technology is the idea that your smartphone and your PC and your Kindle (and other tablet devices) can all access the same set of files – your own personal collection of digital content. You can buy an mp3 of your favorite song for your new Kindle Fire tablet — but you’ll also be able to listen to it on your PC using Amazon’s “cloud player.” Of course, you can also just download that mp3 straight to your hard drive, and then do whatever you want with it.

But if you’ve ever tried that, you’ll know that Amazon adds extra steps to that process. It’s like they’ve optimized their mp3 service for use with the Amazon Cloud Player, and they’re simply supporting, reluctantly, the old-fashioned custom of listening to mp3s directly from your hard drive. Maybe I’m just suspicious because “cloud storage” still feels new — and in time, I’ll wonder how I ever lived without storing everything on a universally-accessible cloud drive. But for now I still find myself wondering what’s the catch. Do I really want my personal documents to be stored in Seattle, and beamed to an orbiting satellite in outer space?

It does sound cool — like something that James Bond might do. But in any case, this capability has arrived, and how we use it is up to us. “Reading your personal documents on Kindle is now easier than ever,” Amazon explains on their web page.

“You can download archived personal documents from your Kindle Library on Kindle Keyboard, Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPod…”