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Fixing Battery Life Problems on a Kindle Paperwhite

If you’re noticing that your Kindle’s battery life isn’t what it’s supposed to be, or are looking for information on how to solve the “Books not yet indexed” problem, this post may help you.

I bought my Kindle Paperwhite while on vacation in Japan, where they are significantly cheaper thanks to a campaign against the entrenched Kobo readers in that market, but noticed it wasn’t living up to stated battery life claims. My previous Kindles didn’t either, but the problem was less noticeable because I used them more at the time, and thus charged them more frequently.

I recently left the Paperwhite alone during a busy stretch of two weeks and was shocked that the battery had gone nearly flat.

After poking around online, I discovered that the Calibre software I use (a popular open-source ebook manager) causes a feature of the Kindle to misbehave.

When idle, the Kindle tries to index your ebooks so you can perform word searches quickly, but if the file is corrupted or in some way fails to conform to the Kindle’s expectations, it gets stuck indefinitely trying to repeat the operation. That drains the battery, and those books never finish indexing, which must affect searching and navigation.

You can test if this issue is affecting you by performing a search for some nonsensical string such as “jejficueh” which you know won’t appear in any books. If you see a section titled “Books not yet indexed” appearing on the blank search results screen, then you have a bunch of books that never finished indexing.

For books downloaded through Amazon’s Kindle store, the solution is to delete the ebook file and download it again (at no charge).

But because we don’t have a Kindle online store here, mine is manually loaded with mobi files, PDFs, and the like. Deleting and re-copying the affected files wasn’t helping.

After reading forum posts by similarly troubled users, and some proposed solutions, I found out that Calibre does something strange to ebook files when you use the “Send To Device” button to install books on a Kindle connected to your PC/Mac. This is what you’re SUPPOSED to do, by the way. The solution is to click “Save To Disk”, which outputs a clean file to some location on your computer such as your Desktop (again, Send To Device shouldn’t be doing anything different, but it does), and then manually copy the book onto the Kindle using your regular file manager e.g. the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer.

It’s probably a bug. I’ll be writing to the Calibre guys, but just wanted to put this out here in case it helps anyone.

10 Comments

  1. Dizzo says

    I’m experiencing the same problem and unfortunately your solution and others, like deleting the index file on the Kindle, haven’t worked. Never had this problem with previous versions of Kindle and after months of frustration am now considering returning my paperwhite and reverting to Kindle 4.

  2. WOW! Thank you SO much for both discovering this and posting about it.

    I had just noticed my battery getting about 18 hours on standby, and with my Paperwhite being freshly out of warranty, I was getting pretty upset. I tried your ‘test’ to see if anything was stuck indexing, and 22 books popped up!

    I deleted those, and I’m porting over the actual .mobi file (using your ‘save to disk’ method) of one I am currently reading to see if it will resolve the battery issue. (I expect it will.)

    I wonder that Calibre has not fixed this yet!! I am loading up the newest version (2.7) to see if it’s possibly fixed now. Will run a test using that version and some books to see what happens, assuming removing those 22 books restores my battery life in the first place.

    But – clearly – there was an indexing problem, big time. Thanks again!

  3. dtxfcygvubh says

    Useless…thanks for nothing. The battery life problem is NOT because of indexing!

    • Piece of garbage says

      you’re an asshole. no reason to have attitude because the proffered solution failed. instead of shitting on people offering help why don’t you get off your useless, lazy, ignorant ass and find your own solution. or are you -as i suspect- utterly incapable of the slightest intelligent and original thought. climb back in your fucking hole.

  4. One of the other things to consider is whether wifi is turned on, as this can use up a fair amount of battery without you knowing it (just as it would on a smart phone). I’ve turned airplane mode on.

  5. ladystoneheart says

    Hi, thanks, I think this makes sense. My Kindle is only 5 months old and shouldn’t be draining as fast. And since you mentioned it, I noticed that the battery problems I’ve been experiencing happened when I started using Calibre. Before Calibre, I did not have any problems with my battery.

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