This is what a broken Amazon Kindle looks like

I wish I could blame this on shoddy craftsmanship or a DRM snafu, but I'm guessing this is probably the result of my foot. All I know is that I put it in my bag one morning and when I removed it in the afternoon the screen no longer updated. There's not a crack, per se, but you can tell it looks like something fractured underneath the plastic. Ah well. My Kindle was given to me as a press preview unit, so I can't exactly complain. I'd come to enjoy having the Kindle at hand more than I'd expected, but I still don't think I'll be paying $400 to get a new one. I had just gotten it really stuffed with eBooks, too.
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24 Responses to This is what a broken Amazon Kindle looks like

  1. cayton says:

    I like the idea of this, but I can’t pay even close to $400 for it.

  2. ridestowe says:

    thanks really nice of amazon! i didnt know they covered that kinda thing. that might’ve convinced me to get one!


    Hey, I just went to to see if they’re still pushing the Kindle with all they’ve got. Sure enough, it’s front and center on the home page. The main ad has a graphic showing three different documents alternating. They are Freakonomics, NYT and Boing Boing!
    Search for a title that’s available in an electronic version and seven different pleading ads overwhelm the page begging you to buy a Kindle. It’s really irritating if all you want is a (paper) book.

  4. HeartlessMachine says:

    I did the same thing with (2) digital cameras. At different times, of course. So I feel your pain. Except for the fact that you got your first one for free, and your second one for free. So that makes you one lucky bastard.

  5. bademailname says:

    Ouch, crystal leakage. Did you literally step on your bag?

    Most stress cracks I’ve seen like that were caused by focused pressure, i.e. when consumers at Best Buy are trying to see the back of a laptop’s lid and they end up bending the screen against the lockdown, beyond tolerance.

    Does anyone else know if the screens used on the Kindle are exceptionally fragile, or do you chalk it up to “Joel’s a klutz?”

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mine broke in a similar way but they covered it under the warranty with no problem – sent me a new one without seeing the one I had so they had no idea if I broke it or not. They also told me that if it wasn’t under warranty and you needed a new one, you could get it for $180! I am also addicted to the Kindle!! Love it!

  7. bademailname says:

    the pedant in me says -“i.e.”, +”e.g.” i always get them mixed up.

  8. drake says:

    I received my Amazon Kindle as an early Christmas gift 2 weeks ago. I have been very careful with it and have been using the faux leather case that it had come with. Tonight I got up and as I carried it with me to check on the kids it slipped out of the case and landed on the hardwood floor. I had wondered at receipt of the Kindle why you could not secure it while reading. While closed it has an elastic band, I had it opened because I was walking and reading and there is no way to secure it to the case, causing it to slip right out! My screen is now busted after 2 weeks and I haven’t even been able to finish my book.
    I’m worried Amazon won’t return my Kindle?
    Beware of how easy the Kindle can slip out of the case while open!

  9. shutz says:

    Hmmm, I somehow doubt anyone with a similar problem would get an instant replacement like this. They’re not doing it due to stellar customer service, they’re doing it for good PR (or to avoid bad PR.)

    Sorry if that sounds too cynical. Maybe I spend too much time on the Consumerist.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I bought my kindle for about $400 one year and one month ago. I loved it. I told everyone with ears that it was the best thing i ever bought, demo’d it for strangers, encouraged people to buy it. I carried it with me everywhere.

    About two days after the one-year warranty expired, the screen began to fail. Just a line here and there on the screen. Then a few more. Then a few more. Yesterday, when I turned it on – just one little square of text showed in the upper corner.

    I contacted Amazon. Sure enough, the answer is “too bad. your warranty expired. give us $180 if you want your kindle to work.”

    Then I got online – and saw just how many people had the same experience.

    I think that Amazon should sell this as a really awesome one-year product. Like a subscription.

    It’s funny, I knew it felt cheaply made but I really didn’t think it WAS cheap. Turns out, I was wrong.

    I’m more sad than angry. I believed in this product. I don’t anymore. And now that sony has announced that their ebook is $199, it’s hard to justify giving Amazon more money. I just don’t trust them anymore.

  11. kerry says:

    I’m surprised yours broke so spectacularly. The Kindle has the same screen as my Sony Reader, which I somehow dented, causing a little gray blob towards the bottom of the screen. It doesn’t affect anything, though, the screen still works and the blob hasn’t gotten any bigger over time (this happened about 6 months ago). These screens do seem more resilient than LCD screens, and way more so than touch-sensitive LCD screens, but I guess they’re not totally unbreakable.

  12. dculberson says:

    Shutz, it’s possible you’re right – maybe even probable that you’re right – but Amazon does have some amazingly good customer service. They’ve surprised me in the past with their return leniency. The Kindle is sort of their baby right now, so it’s possible that they would bend over backwards helping someone out with it.

    (They may also know of a design flaw in early units like Joel’s that they don’t advertise but quietly fix for free.. who knows.)

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have a Kindle and it was sort of love at first read. Well, I did have to use a little dot of velcro on the back to keep it in the leather case, but after that it was definitely love.

    Now, however, it turns out the screen isn’t durable enough to survive being carried around in my backpack, so I have an etch-a-sketch for a screen and over $200 in Kindle Books I can’t read.

    I’m hoping the next version of the Kindle comes out soon, and that it’s more durable, or that they provide a more protective cover.

  14. shutz says:

    I’ll admit that I’ve never had any problems with Amazon (though I’ve only ordered from

    I usually get my stuff BEFORE their estimated arrival date, and I’ve received everything I ordered, except for one particular CD that was out of print, which is not really their fault.

    I’ve never had to deal with their customer service, so my comment above does not reflect any personal experiences.

  15. Anonymous says:

    My Kindle won’t turn on. It didn’t fall or have any mishaps but only horizontal lines appear on the screen. I called Amazon today hoping to get some troubleshooting assistance but they said they’re sending me a new one in the mail!

  16. Mappy says:

    Well … it is time for me to test our friends at Amazon. I pulled my wife’s Kindle out of the case this morning to take a look at one of her books. There was Mark Twain looking somber as usual and when I slipped the power on it turned into a mess. I hope we see the same sort of happy resolution (no pun intended) that previous postings here have reported! I will let everyone know what happens after I call them on Monday.

  17. HeavyG says:

    The screen itself feels pretty sturdy but I have no idea how much pressure the screen can take before it can no longer be “bended”.

    I always keep my Kindle in the included “bookjacket”. It is sturdy and will protect the screen from scratching and at least some degree of focused pressure damage. The Kindle cover may not be pretty but then I have never cared to use my gizmos as fashion accessories so I couldn’t care less what the frick it looks like.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I too recently broke my screen – called today and they’re sending a free replacement! Talk about great support.

  19. dculberson says:

    I was unhappy with the HD-DVD player I bought; it was infuriatingly slow. They not only refunded 100% of the player’s price, they refunded 100% of all the movies, too, even the opened ones. Their return policy stated that opened movies would only be refunded at a percentage, as little as 50%, but they did 100% anyway! It turned out to be a good thing I returned the HD-DVD stuff…

  20. Jake0748 says:

    That’s too bad Joel. :( I guess they should include some kind of hard case/screen protector for the large price.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I bought my kindle in may and the screen broke. Amazon told me it is under warranty and they would send me a new unit. The warranty process takes longer than the order of a new one so I have to wait a least a few business days to get a new one. Of course, those days span the weekend and I was in the middle of a good read . . . so I’m feeling impatient. I keep my kindle in the faux leather semi-hard cover. I am careful with it. It fell about 12 inches onto the carpeted floor when I fell asleep reading. This event may have caused the screen failure. Also, the screen is no LCD. The screen works using a similar process to laser printing. An electrical charge and toner powder. This is why a kind of “flash” occurs when changing pages. I imagine some kind of hardware connections broke on impact. My impression is that the kindle can’t take much impact. But, previous to the terrible event, I had traveled with my kindle and had no problems. I’m ultra tough on my electronics generally but I did make an extra effort to be careful with the kindle.

    Would like to know how long it really took to get the new one. I think I’m addicted to the darn thing. Having bad withdrawal since it broke.

    Nice to find a discussion on the topic. Although I am sorry for your (temporary) loss.


  22. Joel Johnson says:

    I did ask the guy specifically if I was getting special treatment. He denied that was so, saying, “We just want everyone who has a Kindle to have the best experience possible” or something like that.

    Impossible to say, but at least according to my one customer service rep, they’re not playing favorites.

  23. Joel Johnson says:

    It does include a semi-hard fake leather case, but I hated the way it looked and felt so I never used it. I’m not sure it would have protected the screen from a pressure break, but it may have. Hard to say!

  24. Joel Johnson says:

    Huh. I called Amazon and they said they’d swap it out for a new one, even though it’s likely I had caused the damage myself. I’ll take it!

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