Sunday, 9 January 2011

What to do with your shiny Kindle

I have a Kindle, it hasn't changed my life, but it has changed how I'm reading.

After a couple of months of use and some experimenting, I've settled on a few useful things related to the Kindle which extend what it can do.

  • Calibre
    • Calibre organises eBooks and can download and format news to put on the Kindle.  This lets you add content without paying Amazon to do it through one of their subscription packages.
  • Instapaper
    • Instapaper collects together long articles from the web and will send them to the Kindle as a newspaper.  This works as a 'read it later' service.  It cannot deal with articles on subscription sites (eg. but otherwise does a good job of moving this type of reading off the web and onto a suitable device.
  • Economist print subscription
    • The cheapest way to read the economist in New Zealand is to get a UK print subscription.  This also gives you a web access code which, combined with Calibre, gets you a weekly delivery of the Economist to the Kindle.  Amazon's Kindle subscription is somewhat more expensive.
  • Make an  eBook
    • If you want to understand the Kindle's insides, it's useful to make a book.  Sigil is the best software I have found for this.
  • US/UK registration
    • Amazon restricts content available depending on your region, but does not know when you've gone on holiday.  If you're not in the UK or US you probably still want to have your Kindle registered to an address there, so that you can access the whole of the catalog.
The main pleasure of using the Kindle, instead of a bright PC screen, to read magazines and books, is that I can fall asleep while reading from the Kindle.  The passive screen and almost-book feel put my mind into night mode, while a bright PC screen with distractions keeps me awake.  You can also leave it out in the wind and not lose your page, very important in Dunedin.

Next crazy project is to use publicly available mapping data to generate custom map pages to take tramping with me.  Combined with some sort of waterproofing, this could be very useful...

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