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Kindle's magically disappearing magazines [updated]

April 19, 2011 |  1:59 pm

Magazine subscribers who use their Kindles to subscribe are doing the environment a service: fewer dead trees, less paper waste. But apparently they're doing themselves a disservice, because if they choose to unsubscribe, back issues of their magazine disappear from their Kindles.

According to a report on Gizmodo, users who subscribe through the Kindle must continue to subscribe or have their back issues removed from the device "for good." Back issues that had been downloaded and paid for simply disappear.

What's more, Gizmodo writes, "there is also no existing way to transfer old issues of your subscription to a new device before you cancel." Which makes sense; I can't get a free CD of my Hall & Oates cassettes just because I upgraded players. Wait, what? Nobody uses CDs anymore?

Anyway, losing back issues when unsubscribing will inevitably be frustrating to some consumers;  after all, magazines that you've paid for should be yours to keep as long as you like. Then again, for the person who accumulates back issues of the New Yorker in slippery, off-balance stacks until she changes apartments (cough), the disappearance of old magazines might be so bad after all.

Update, 6/19 6:35pm: Amazon says that the Gizmodo account is atypical and the standard practice is for seven back issues, if downloaded, to remain on the Kindle even after a subscription is terminated.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Reading -- a Kindle and a newspaper -- on the subway in Cambridge, Mass., March 2011. Credit: Bryan Snyder / Reuters