My family got together this last Christmas and gave me one gift – a Kindle. (well, two – they included a case for it as well) Now some of you out there (like my high school English teacher) are saying, “Wait, I didn’t know Courtney could read!?!” It’s true, I don’t normally read novels or classics like Shakespeare or Judy Blume however I do do a lot of research reading. I’m constantly having to read this whitepaper about a technology or a book about discipleship and I’m an avid reader of a special book known as the Bible and because I’m on the go a lot, a Kindle is a great way for me to carry a lot of different books and articles without having a pile of papers or a hernia.
Now if you want to know why I wanted a Kindle over an iPad or reading this stuff on my phone or laptop, just ask but here I’m going to show you some of the tricks I found very useful in making the most out of using a Kindle or just because I like to be different.
The Key: The “Manage Your Kindle” page on Amazon
Go to Amazon.com and login. Then click on “Your Account” and scroll down to “Digital Content” and there you will see a link to “Manage Your Kindle”. On this page you’ll see a lot of info about what you’ve ordered (so if you remove a book from your Kindle, you can always re-download it without paying because it stays listed on this page). Let me draw your attention to a couple of places:
Under your Kindle, you see the name of your Kindle along with a space called “Kindle Email Address”. Make note of that address – add it to your Address Book with the name “Kindle Uploads” or something you can easily remember.
Now this email address allows you to send PDFs (as an attachment) to your Kindle. This makes it very easy to get that white-paper or eBook (in PDF) onto your Kindle to read later. If your Kindle has 3G capabilities, be mindful that this feature can cost you money so if you want to make sure its free, change the email address to be “@FREE.kindle.com”. While it won’t automatically download until you are on a WiFi network, you can save a few cents. If you have a WiFi only Kindle then don’t worry which email address you send it to as it automatically processes it under the “free” way.
Now this only works if you are sending it from a registered email address. So scroll down to “Your Kindle Approved Email List” and make sure you have every email account you might send stuff from. Maybe you add your spouse’s email address so that they can easily send you stuff that they find and think you might want to read.
If you are worried about doing this and having charges because you forgot to send it to the free address, then scroll down to the “Your Personal Document Charge Limit” area. Set this to zero. It’s the “Just in case” way to be safe there especially if you’re never going to receive personal files through the 3G connection.
Making my own screensaver
Personally, I couldn’t handle having all those author screen savers. I feel really stupid with those super minds being shown to me repeatedly. Plus, I wanted to make my Kindle my own. That’s why I used this hack that allows me to use my own pictures as screen savers. While this hack has no warrantee and could void your warranty from Amazon, it seems to work flawlessly for me (I was even able to seamlessly do an Amazon update recently with no negative affects or problems). Follow the instructions closely and know that there’s two parts – first a hack to be able to install hacks and then a hack to replace screen savers –> http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Kindle_Screen_Saver_Hack_for_all_2.x_and_3.x_Kindles#How_to_Update_the_Screen_Saver_Hack
Web Articles to your Kindle
I read a lot of websites and sometimes there’s articles that I want to read later. The Chrome plugin makes doing that real easy. Basically, when you use Chrome as your browser and have this loaded, you can be on a website – click a button and it formats and send the file to your Kindle. Real easy. Its not a screen shot and clears out a lot of the “stuff” on the website but you’ll get the content which is what you wanted in the first place. Check it out at LifeHacker –> http://lifehacker.com/#!5736907/send-to-kindle-pushes-web-articles-from-chrome-to-your-kindle
Search the Amazon Store
I have a problem with impulse buying. When I’m in a book store, I’m like – oh, I gotta get this and this and this. Not good for the wallet or for my suitcases when I’m having to lug all that around. Here’s some ways to help with that:
- Samples: Many of the books in the Amazon store allow you to download a sample of the book and read it. Sometimes its a chapter – sometimes its more. I’ve been looking for a good book on Android development and I’ve looked at probably 8 or 9 book samples before purchasing just one. But I know I got the right one.
- Free collections: If you go to the Kindle eBooks area of the website and look at the list on the left, you’ll see a link for “Free eBook Collections”. Basically there’s two of them – one is the “Kindle Popular Classics” area which are books like Sherlock Holmes, Pride & Prejudice, etc where the copyright for them has expired so foundations have put them into electronic format for all to have. The other collection is “Limited Time Promotional Offers”. This is the area where you want to periodically check as there can be some real gems in there. I’ve found leadership books by top leadership development people, language helper books, educational resources, the Bible, and many others things in there. I’ve probably ordered most of my books from this area. [WARNING: This area also has a lot of smut books. – I really wish they would remove those but apparently they sell]
- Check out the Newspapers, Blogs and Magazines that you can get automatically sent to your Kindle whenever there’s an update or new edition. They’re fairly cheap and it saves trees going this route.
Outside Amazon Resources for Books
There’s a lot of books out there being formated for the Kindle by various foundations like Project Gutenberg. Many of the books are similar to the ones found in Amazon’s “Kindle Popular Classics” but not all of them. Doing a Google search for “Kindle books free” will give you a lot of places to explore.
Other than read books, what can a Kindle do?
There are many things the Kindle can do:
- If the book is formated for it, you can have the Kindle read the book to you. Great for car drives – just get a cassette adapter (if you car has a stereo that can play cassettes) and it makes for a great way to listen to a “book on tape” only from your Kindle.
- You can also load some MP3s on it and listen to music while you read. You just load the files while the Kindle is connected via USB into the proper folder and then you’re good to go.
- Did you know it has a web browser? While not the greatest (I much prefer my Android phone over the Kindle for web surfing), if you ain’t got something else, it works!
- Synchronize your reading across platforms – I’m assuming you know that there’s Kindle Reader apps for Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, etc. You can have books loaded on multiple platforms and haven them synchronize where you are so that when you stop reading on your Kindle and then later pick up your cell phone and open up the book there – it opens to right where you left off on the Kindle. Nice, huh?
Ok, I’m not a Kindle freak (well, maybe a little) and I’m not paid by Amazon for this post but several people were asking me a lot of questions about Kindles so I thought I would post this. I’m also not advocating a Kindle over other eReaders out there as they’ve got a lot of plus over the Kindle (and some minuses) so to each his/her own. I have a Kindle and it works really good for me.
Got other ideas for how to use the Kindle even more effectively? Comment.