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I bought a Kindle

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20 December 2011, 05:53 PM
I bought a Kindle
I bought a Kindle.

My main reason for buying it was to save storage space. I’ve bought about 30–40 books a year for the past fifteen years or so, and I’m continually running out of bookshelf space. I have to take books to used bookstores or donate them to the library, not because I don’t want them, but because I need to free up space.

A second reason was that shipping books to Canada is relatively expensive and takes much longer than shipping books domestically within the United States. To save on the time and expense of shipping the Kindle itself, I bought the device at a local Staples, where the price was $119 Canadian dollars plus Canadian taxes.

I chose the Kindle because, although only about 10 percent of books in print are available for the Kindle, that’s a far higher percentage than any competing device.

Registering it was relatively straightforward, though the onscreen keyboard was a pain to operate with only the five-way key at the bottom. The model I bought doesn’t have a real keyboard or a touchscreen.

I then purchased a Kindle ebook via my PC, and presto, it shows up on my Kindle. (Of course, this assumes you already have a Wi-Fi router.)

It’s relatively easy to read the characters on the Kindle screen, but you do need to have just the right amount of light — enough to see the text, but not so much that you get glare reflected back.

Now for the things I don’t like.

The text justification is awful. I mean absolutely AWFUL. It doesn’t hyphenate words, and it uses monster wordspaces to produce full justification. An option for ragged right margins doesn’t exist on this model, unless you go in and do a hack described in various places on the Internet. (Google KINDLE ALLOW JUSTIFICATION CHANGE.)

Finding a particular page in the ebook is much harder than it would be with a real book.

And, at six inches diagonally, the screen is just a tad small for my liking.

On the whole, then, I would describe myself as “moderately pleased” with my purchase.

So what have been your experiences with e-readers, Kindles, iPads, and the like?
21 December 2011, 03:18 PM
Derek, which one did you get? I'm not clear about that from your post.

I've put the Kindle Touch Wifi/3G on my Christmas list, and if it doesn't show up under the tree, I just might buy one anyway for the same reasons you cited. I chose that one over the Fire because I have a laptop for web surfing and email, and I like the way Touch and some of the others display pages -- very much like a book, in terms of lighting. I do have the Kindle app on my iPod Touch and on my Macbook, and I have done some reading on it.

So we'll see. It's a little pricey for any of my family members, but they may go in together. Smiler
21 December 2011, 04:07 PM
I got the most basic model -- no keyboard, no touch, no 3G! It's the one where the price on the Amazon website is $109, or $79 if you're willing to put up with "special offers" ads appearing on your screen.

It's not quite suitable for all lighting conditions, despite the claims on their website. (The website shows someone reading a Kindle on a beach, something we don't often do in Canada in the middle of winter, LOL.) You do get glare from lighting at certain angles.
21 December 2011, 05:41 PM
Derek, I did the hack to make my Kindle left-justify, and it was a big improvement. It’s worth doing if you haven’t done so already. You can also make the margins a little smaller which gets you a little more screen real estate.

You’re right about navigating being somewhat of a pain. The user interface could stand some improvement in this regard.

I’ve got the older one with the 6” screen and the built-in hardware keyboard. This keyboard is adequate for typing in a search term, but not much else.

But it’s a superb book reader. I don’t know any situation where one will be able to read a book in direct sunlight with ease, but I think the Kindle is the only one that would make this rather easy. It’s very good with lots of light.

You have your Canadian issues with getting books, it sounds like. But one advantage of the Kindle is that many books are $10.00, tops. And you can find a lot of gems for $5.00 or so. This is a big savings.

Not to mention the gigabytes of public domain books. is a good source for this. And the Kindle has really facilitated reading a lot of the classics (such as “Treasure Island”) which I might have not done without the sheer convenience of having hundreds of books literally at my fingertips. I find myself doing much more reading than I ever did.

And it’s a big help that you can enlarge the text a little for eyes that are older than the age of 40. That really facilitates reading for pleasure, as does the ability to mark text and then share it online.

The “Fire” looks like a nice product. I recently got a 10.1” Acer A500 Tablet and find myself doing a lot of reading on that via the Kindle app. The advantage is that it is a back-lit screen. Normally this is the potential cause of eye strain, but it’s a very hires monitor which I think helps a lot. I tend to go back and forth between them. And a book you’ve bought can be read on either or both.
21 December 2011, 06:39 PM
Originally posted by Brad:
Derek, I did the hack to make my Kindle left-justify, and it was a big improvement. It’s worth doing if you haven’t done so already.

Done! Your post gave me the courage to try it. Much better!
21 December 2011, 08:53 PM
Cool. And for whatever reason, some books will override the hacked setting. And if you change the margins, they will change back to the defaults if -- via the normal Kindle interface -- you change the line spacing setting. I think. It was either that or the "words per line" setting.
22 December 2011, 10:48 AM
Derek, although I know that half the fun is discovering this stuff for yourself, here’s a compendium of my observation and tips.

Here’s a list of free book at

Be sure to take advantage of the built-in dictionary. You can highlight a word and then get a complete Oxford dictionary definition of it. Very handy. It beats having to get up and get the dictionary off the shelf.

Here’s a list of shortcuts and tips.

Updates will probably automatically download. But if you need to manually download them for any reason, check out this page.

For any kind of translation of documents that you might need to do in order to get them to work on the Kindle, the program Calibre works very well for that. Also note that you can email pdf, Word, and other documents to your “” Write “convert” in the subject line, attach the document, and in a minute or two you’ll get a version either downloaded straight to your kindle or emailed back to you. If you do this via WiFi, it’s free. If you do it via 3G, they charge a few pennies.

By the way, I’ve tried converting pdf’s via both Amazon’s free conversion service and Calibri, and the Amazon service generally is a lot faster and you seem to get pretty much the same results.

Inkmesh is a search engine for finding free books. Again, is also an excellent source. Check out Many Books as well.

For general info, here’s a fairly well-known blog.

My battery has lasted fine so far. But should you need a new one, check out this source.

Get more general info on the Kindle at Booksprung.

Here’s a page which instruction on how to change your margins and perhaps a couple other hacks.
22 December 2011, 10:58 AM
A few more tips from experience:

+ If you download a lot of the free books at one time, for instance, go ahead and keep your Kindle plugged in overnight. The Kindle will index each and every one of those books and that takes some battery power initially. But once they’re indexed, it doesn’t.

+ There may be many fine cases sold for these Kindles now. But the one by Amazon works very very well. Often the “manufacturer” cases are just schlepped out and are not the best. But in this case, it’s really a fine case. Still….it’s possible there are some better ones out there now.

+ Be sure to take advantage of the Kindle’s ability to “sample” books before you buy them. Generally you get the first chapter or two to peruse. That’s very useful.
22 December 2011, 11:12 AM
Originally posted by Brad:
Here’s a list of free book at

I was looking for that sort of resource last night LOL. It's so easy and convenient to spend money on paid content with the Kindle!

I did find a highly rated Kindle version of the ESV and downloaded that. For free, of course. It's not a Catholic Bible, but it is very readable, and the experts say it's a reasonably literal and accurate translation. When I looked, it was #23 on Amazon's chart of free Kindle books.
22 December 2011, 11:18 AM
It's so easy and convenient to spend money on paid content with the Kindle!

No wonder that — from what I’ve read — Amazon is selling the Kindle “Fire” at below cost. It’s REALLY easy to spend some money. But I’ve got so much public domain stuff downloaded onto my Kindle, I jest to my friends that if ever I had to serve a 30 year prison sentence, I’d never run out of reading material and never have to re-read anything.

And given the generally higher standard of literature (whatever the genre) from days past, it’s not like one is “stuck” reading second-rate stuff. Western Civilization used to far more literate and articulate than it is now. I hope that’s not an unfair critique. I just think it’s a fact.
22 December 2011, 11:38 AM
One of the benefits of electronic books is that it’s a much easier (if less profitable) way to publish books. Here’s a link to some tips for doing so (which also includes a link to Amazon’s pdf guide).

The geekier types among us may find the KindleFeeder to be useful.

The Kindle has a rudimentary way to do folders. It calls them “collections.” And if you have a lot of books, it’s a handy way to keep them organized. You can also (should you wish to) have a book in more than one collection. But you can’t have folders within folders, which is a bummer.

Another handy feature of the Kindle (and this works well with Macs in particular) is that if you run across a web page with an article that you’d like to save, you can (via various means) “print to pdf” and then have this translated to the Kindle. It’s quick and easy especially if you use that free conversion method I spoke of earlier.

You might find, for instance, a long article that you’d like to read, but in the comfort of your recliner (or on the beach) rather than sitting at your computer. This is a great way to do that. And a great way to archive info that you’d like to keep at your fingertips.
22 December 2011, 11:42 AM
Can I come in here and thank you aBrad and Derek for all the tips around the kindle My daughter has bought one for my husband for christmas, ( one without a keyboard ) and everything you have suggested will be so handy for him as he is not it minded. He is an avid reader, and he get quite tired holding heavy tomes while reading in bed, so please God he will get the hang of this. If not I will be waiting in the wings, and hopefully my concentration will return soon.


22 December 2011, 11:53 AM
Another program worth considering is MobiPocket. I haven’t used it much, but it is one of the “standard” programs you’ll hear about in regards to ebook and stuff.

He is an avid reader, and he get quite tired holding heavy tomes while reading in bed...

Good point, Clare. As dumb as this may sound on the face of it, one of the benefits of the Kindle is indeed not having to hold for hours on end a heavy tome. You will definitely want to read Moby Dick or Les Miserables on a Kindle (or some other electronic book reader). It makes it much more pleasurable. In my opinion, this is not a minor factor.


By the way (unless this has changed), the Kindle can read Mobi files (or native Kindle files, of course) but not EPUB files. But should a public domain book be available only in an incompatible format, that’s where Calibri or some such program is very useful.
23 December 2011, 10:43 AM
Well, if a Kindle does show up under the tree, I'll be running to this discussion. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Brad. Smiler
23 December 2011, 05:15 PM
I hope Santa is good to you. As far as I can determine, any version of the Kindle is going to be a great gift. The “Fire” has some nice advantages in that you can also do some other apps and internet stuff. (The internet functionality on the other Kindles is very limited.)

The other Kindles (with the e-ink screens) are just flat-out excellent book readers. That’s their one purpose, and they do it pretty well. I like the “Fire,” but if I were to upgrade, I might (because I already have a tablet computer now) get the touchscreen version if only because the hardware keyboards I find to be a bit difficult to use in practice.

The main thing I’ve heard from people when I first tell them about the Kindle (and I thought the same thing myself at first before buying one) is, “Oh, nothing will replace the feel of a real book in your hands.”

Well, the Kindle (and other e-book readers) have honestly done that. It is (especially for my aging eyes) much more enjoyable to read on these things. I wish the navigation was a little better. You can bookmark all you want. You can go to the table of contents. But it can at times be a tad frustrating when wanting to go to a specific section or chapter. Yes, probably most for-pay books have hyperlinked chapters in the table of contents. But many of the public domain ones don’t.

But the trade-offs are more than worth it. Also, a new feature is that you can loan books person-to-person to other Kindle users. But the ability to do so is set by the publisher. Not all books are lendable. The ones you can, you can lend them for two weeks. And I don’t know how things are set up at your library, but my local library does do electronic lending, but only in the EPUB format (if I remember correctly). You should check with your local library and see what their options are. It's possible it will lend to the Kindle.
23 December 2011, 07:22 PM
Originally posted by Brad:
I wish the navigation was a little better. You can bookmark all you want. You can go to the table of contents. But it can at times be a tad frustrating when wanting to go to a specific section or chapter.

I've noticed already that some publishers have done a better job than others in providing Kindle-friendly navigation to footnotes.

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament provides excellent links both from text to footnotes and then back from the note to the appropriate part of the text.

On the other hand, Bruno Barnhart's Second Simplicity: Toward a Rebirth of Wisdom -- an excellent book, from what I've read so far, and one relevant to the nondualism thread -- has no links to footnotes at all. To locate a note you have to go to the table of contents, locate and link to the notes section, then page forward to find the note you want. Painful.
24 December 2011, 04:05 PM
Good points, Derek. And I’ve certainly noticed that some of the periodicals that you can subscribe to (for a fee…and you can usually also get one free sample) have improved in terms of navigation. They’re still trying to catch-up with the low-tech little yellow sticky notes. I find they work wonders for the paper kinds of books.
26 December 2011, 08:08 PM
OK, it did happen: several family members went in together and bought me a Touch 3G. Now to investigate some of the resources mentioned on this topic. Smiler
27 December 2011, 02:24 PM
Excellent. Happy reading. Right now I'm reading "Heir to the Empire" by Timothy Zahn. It's the first book of the "Thrawn Trilogy" which takes up where the movie "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" left off.
28 December 2011, 03:32 PM
Congratulations, Phil. I'll be interested to hear your first impressions of the device.
28 December 2011, 08:09 PM
I like it very much. It's not as smooth or fast in responsiveness as, say, an iPad, but it's meant for reading, not surfing or playing games, so that's OK. I'm still finding my way around, and am somewhat disappointed that a few Gutenberg books I've imported have minimal formatting. There aren't even links in the table of contents of these .mobi files, which Kindle plays well with. But, they are free, so who can complain? You just have to scroll and scroll to get where you're going.

I'm going to buy one of Cynthia Bourgeault's new books since some of my directees have wanted to discuss her works. I hope her publisher has taken the time to do some formatting.

Incidentally, I've published a number of works for Kindle -- mostly some of my older, out-of-print books -- and they are well-formatted, including the footnotes. Smiler
23 January 2012, 01:54 PM
Well, Phil, apparently we are among the 10 percent of the entire population who acquired these devices this Christmas:

I'm still finding it clunky to navigate (compared with a real book).
23 January 2012, 07:38 PM
I like it. There are lots of free games for the Touch and I've enjoyed playing them.