So I Bought Myself A Kindle…

by Anne Wayman

kindleI’ve been hankering for a Kindle ever since they arrived, but I never could justify the expense. Not that they are that expensive – truth is I got into one of those loops… I have access to a good library… etc. etc. etc. The result was no Kindle.

Until I discovered an obscure Buddhist text, available free in .pdf – all 500 pages of it!

Exactly the excuse I needed!

So I began to haunt eBay. I’ve had good luck with hardware and software and even a great jacket with eBay and I wanted a bargain.

I wanted a Kindle with the E Ink display. I don’t do well with glare, and my iPad (which, btw, I paid full price for – I never have said I’m consistent) glares at me when I try to use it to read in bed. Besides, it feels too heavy and the wrong size.


Somewhere along the way I discovered I’d be able to clip quotes and email them to folks… so I decided I wanted a keyboard – hard to imagine me without a keyboard anywhere, come to think of it. So that’s what I looked for.

It really didn’t take long – not quite a week and I put in a bid on one – about half-price and I won! A few days later the machine arrives and it’s dirt simple to use. And it’s light and it doesn’t glare at me in bed.

Amazon, we’ve got a problem

I figured out how to get the obscure Buddhist text on my Kindle and realized something – I don’t want to read obscure Buddhist texts in bed, at least not very often. I want junk mysteries and suspense novels. The kind I can get almost by the pound at the library, for free.

I’m likely to read several of these a week and even at reduced prices, and many are cost more than $10-12 bucks, I realized I had created a way to overspend like mad.

Free ebooks!

It wasn’t long before I ran into one of LifeHacker’s articles on free ebooks (while reading my iPad in the living room). The post called OneHundredFreeEbooks Serves Up Free Kindle Ebooks Every Hour caught my attention.

It’s perfect for me. I bring it up two or three times a week from my iPad, choose three or four titles and download them to my Kindle. It’s magic. In some ways it’s even better than the library because I don’t have to go anywhere.

It took only a couple of days to become totally willing to delete a book as soon as it begins to bore me.

Every now and again one of my favorite authors shows up.


I’m not sure what the advantage to the author and publishers are except maybe word of mouth, but it sure works for me.

Libraries are in trouble

I also explored my local library which says they offer ebooks. They do, but it’s almost impossible in the U.S. to use ebooks from the library well. It’s not the library’s fault – publishers are insisting on extremely limited distribution to libraries… in my case the library has only one copy of the ebook which means I have to get in a very long line to read one.

This is a reflection of the publisher’s fears of losing control and income. I don’t know what the balance is, but getting into a hundred person or even 20 person line to read a single copy of an ebook isn’t it. Until this sorts out, and people are working on it, the free ebooks are a more satisfying experience.

Implications for writers & readers

The writing is on the e-ink so to speak. More and more writing, particularly, but not exclusively, is going to show up in virtual form. We all need to get more compatible.

And that obscure Buddhist text? It’s The Shobogenzo - A Trainee’s Translation of - Great Master Dogen’s Spiritual Masterpiece. And I’m wrong, it’s over 1,000 pages!

The 500 page book is The First 5,000 Years of Debt by David Graeber. This is an important book. I slogged through it first from the library. The first several chapters are important, then you can pick and choose.

What about you? Have you started reading ebooks? Do you have an ebook reader? Read them on your phone or stick to print books. Tell us your story in comments.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Juliet Farmer January 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

Did those with Kindles get the kind with or without special offers? I’m wondering just how annoying those offers are for the savings.

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annew January 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

Juliet, I thought I was getting an ad supported one, but I haven’t yet seen an ad so I don’t know how to answer you. It could be that the gal I bought it from paid full price. I know I had no trouble making it my own as far as amazon is concerned.

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Nichole January 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

I got my daughter a Kindle for her birthday last year and she liked hers so much that I decided to get one even though I have a Nook Color. The NC (Nook Color) is nice BUT the number of free ebooks on B&N are limited and so is my budget for books. That’s when I started to look into the Kindle. Like you, I don’t really care for the glare that comes from my Nook Color so I broke down and got a Kindle. I don’t have the keyboard (I don’t miss it too much) and I love that I can send blog posts to my Kindle to read later (for all those times that I don’t have time to read during the day). All you need to do is add a shortcut button in Google Chrome (it’s pretty cool!).

It’s easy to love my Kindle but I still love the feel of a book and pages in my hands.
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annew January 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

Nichole, I haven’t yet used the keyboard much… may not have needed it. So what’st his about a google shortcut and blogs for kindles? I don’t know how to do that.

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Lisa Nicholas January 31, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I think Nichole is referring to the Send to Kindle browser plug-in (she mentioned the one for Chrome, I use the one for Firefox, it’s probably available for other browsers, too). The little button sits at the top of the browser window, and when you are on a page you want to save to read on your Kindle, you just click the Sent to Kindle button. You can preview the formatting before you send it; you can also just send selected text from the page. I love this plug-in! I use it mostly for great writing advice I find on blogs and websites.

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annew February 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

I haven’t used that yet, thanks for the explanation.

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Irma January 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I’ve had a Kindle for several years now and I love it. But, nothing beats holding an actual book in my hand. Especially, my writing and editing books. I prefer to have the actual print copies of those. My Kindle is more for pleasure than work.

That said, my house is a virtual library. In the sense that it’s filled with books, not ebooks.
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annew January 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

Irma, I like print books best too… I think ;)

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sue January 26, 2013 at 10:56 am

Great post with interesting insights on how to use kindle . I like the idea of not having to worry about losing your books as they safely reside in the “cloud” !

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annew January 28, 2013 at 11:03 am

Safe for now anyway.

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Juliet Farmer January 24, 2013 at 8:15 am

I guess for the price, you’re not worried about warranty/proof of purchase in case something were to break/die on your Kindle?

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annew January 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

Juliet, I actually have receipts from Amazon so maybe I could get those back… not sure. Also I can store books in the cloud… a fair amount for free… those I can get back with a new unbroken kindle if it happens.

If my house burned down or got flooded I’m sure I couldn’t get all my books back… I probably should ask my renters insurance folks about that… I mostly trust electronics and back up.

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Juliet Farmer January 24, 2013 at 8:33 am

Aha! Although I was referring more to the Kindle itself breaking and trying to get it fixed under warranty, etc. But again, I’m assuming for the price you paid, that’s not a worry, as it would be less expensive just to buy another one.

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annew January 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

Well, if I broke it today I would have to wait a week or two to replace it, that’s true.

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Lisa Nicholas January 31, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I worked my first Kindle to death in about 18 months — by which time it was out of warranty. Amazon let me buy a brand new replacement (same model) for less than half of the usual price. None of my Kindle books or documents were lost.
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Juliet Farmer February 1, 2013 at 8:16 am

Lisa, may I ask how you worked it to death? I’d like to avoid that scenario if possible. :)

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jorgekafkazar January 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

An obscure Buddhist text? Great; let’s preserve it like that.

I’ll stick with real books until my eyes give out. I dread a future like this:

http://jorgekafkazar.wordpress.com/green-dragon-drool/

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annew January 24, 2013 at 7:10 am

Jorge! Well, someone has gone to the trouble to translate it, put it in a .pdf and make it available… seems like a few people ought to read at least part. It’s Dogen’s The Shobogenzo, and he wrote in Japanese in the 1200s CE so who knows what’s changed in the language since. I do have a printed book that is a partial translation of the same thing… I’m gradually getting through both.

Computers have brought me so much… I dread the future in some ways, and am enjoying my techie present right now.

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jorgekafkazar January 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

For now, Anne, I get along with a 22″ monitor and a magnifying glass. I’ll have an e-reader sooner or later–another distraction that I could get too easily absorbed in, along with obscure religious/philosophical works of all sorts: Jung’s Red Book, The Necronomicon, the Gilgamesh saga, The Rubaiyyat, possibly even the Shotgunbozo. Yes, Japanese has changed over the years. Many old haiku no longer translate in their full cleverness; the nuances of some words have been lost forever, leaving just a shallow rice paper version of the original. Obscure manuscripts are fascinating, and I need to avoid them. Heck, I’ve read Wealth of Nations and the draft of the Copenhagen Climate Agreement. As Robert Louis Stevenson almost said, “The Net is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all get a lot more done.”

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annew January 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

Almost every morning I spend 30 minutes or so reading what many would consider obscure texts… I haven’t read Jung’s Red Book… about the only think of his I haven’t read I guess… recently read at The Rubaiyyat, seem to remember something about Gilgamesh from ages ago… but I digress… 30-40 min 5 days a week plus about 30 min of sitting meditation and I’m off to the computer for work.

Wonder, if humankind survives, what folks might say about all our blogging several centuries from now? sigh… I love paper books… the kindle has just been better than I expected.

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Franny Syufy February 8, 2013 at 8:30 am

Anne, I’m on my 3rd Kindle now. I signed up for the very first version and had it for a few years, then when the 3G version first came out I bought it and gifted my original one to a friend (a former Guide for About.com). I still use the 3G and have about 600 books on it – wish I knew how to delete some, but haven’t figured that out yet. When the original Kindle Fire came out, I bought it, then recently gifted my daughter with one too. This old 3G has been acting wonky for over a year – freezes up, reboots itself for no apparent reason. Could be user-caused, I admit to having dropped it a few times. Eventually, I’ll likely buy one of the newer models with the brighter display.

I bought the Kindle Fire mainly because I wan’t to see the children’s book I’d written in color. Although I had seen it on Cloud it wasn’t quite the same. Also, I thought it would help when writing reviews of books for my site. I rarely use it, though. Most of the books I read don’t have color illustrations anyway, and I’ve found myself buying a paperback copy of a book I read in Kindle for review purposes.

I’d have excrutiating withdrawal pains if I ever had to give up my Kindle, though. I generally take a break from the computer four or five times a day and spend 15 minutes sitting outside, reading just for pleasure. I’ve downloaded dozens of the old classics, from Mark Twain to the Grimms’ brothers, Hemingway to Lewis Carroll. I also read some historical romances and Christian fiction, and have a collection of over a dozen books on bi-polar disorder.

To say I’m hooked on Kindle is putting it mildly!

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annew February 12, 2013 at 9:55 am

Franny, to delete, go to the book’s title, hit the right-hand side of the square. That brings up a menu with several options, one of which is something like ‘remove this book.’

If you’re writing kids books you need a Fire or an iPad or something that shows off the color.

One of my dreams is eink with colors… they wouldn’t be as vibrant, but would be a great compromise for glare sensitive folks like me. And I’m more and more hooked on my kindle ;)

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Franny Syufy February 12, 2013 at 10:12 am

Anne, Thanks so much for that info! Wouldn’t you know that a relative “newbie” to Kindle would figure that out while a seasoned user couldn’t! I’d looked through “settings” but couldn’t find anything.

Now, I’m going to scroll through 69 pages and start deleting like crazy! The nice thing is that with the Kindle Cloud, they’re not lost forever, and I can get them back at anytime in the future.

And yes, I have the Fire, but still hardly ever use it.

Thanks again!
Franny
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annew February 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I’ve somehow ended up with two different manuals, but I probably just googled “how to remove books from my kindle” or something.

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Kimberly Jones January 23, 2013 at 9:56 am

I like to think that I stick to paperback books because I am a traditionalist who relishes the feel of a book in my hands and the comforting motion of turning a page in a rush to see what happens next.

Truth is, my bookshelves were expensive and took forever to put together, I spent a fortune on a large stack of “to be read” books and I take pride in the great literature I have on display. It makes me look smart. I’m not ready to say good-bye just yet.
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Sharon Hurley Hall January 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

I have a huge library of books I’ve already read and reference books and I’m not getting rid of them yet, but 75% of my new books are electronic.
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annew January 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

I have a pretty good book case in the living room and a smaller one in the office… there are books in both I haven’t yet read, favorites I’ll probably die clutching… not sure what I want to do about new, particularly non-fiction and spiritual books… I’m still practicing deleting the ones I either don’t want to finish or have finished but know I never want to read again.

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annew January 23, 2013 at 10:21 am

Kimberly, owning a Kindle hasn’t led me to get rid of the ‘real’ books I have… and most of what I read on it I wouldn’t want to keep anyway. But believe me, I understand.

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Franny Syufy February 12, 2013 at 10:19 am

Kimberly, I still like the feel of a book, too. Unfortunely, with aging eyes, I must look for large print versions, which are not universally available. I recently bought “Contact,” the novel by Carl Sagan, but the text is so small I must use a magnifying glass to read it.

The other factor is cost. I can buy hundreds of Kindle books for $2.99 or less, while even paperbacks cost at least $7 at the least. Plus, I can carry 600+ books around on a Kindle in my handbag when traveling, With books, I’d have to pack five or six in a suitcase.
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annew February 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I like books too… paper books… but I’m loving my kindle and woke up the other night trying to turn pages… apparently my mind/body has decided the kindle books are real ;)

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Sharon Hurley Hall January 23, 2013 at 2:48 am

I love my Kindle, Anne, and got upgraded to the Paperwhite at Christmas. Even with the built in backlight, there’s no glare. I’ve found that I read just as much, maybe more, because I no longer reject books where the print is too small. :) I have two go-to sources for free ebooks. I’ll send you the links in the forum so I don’t trigger your spam filter.
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annew January 23, 2013 at 7:25 am

Ah, a woman after my own heart… I’ll look for the email.

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Amandah January 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I don’t have an e-reader, but I’ve used my sister’s iPad. I find it to be clunky and heavy. I may check out the iPad Mini or the Microsoft Surface because it looks slim and lightweight and change out the keyboard. :)
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annew January 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm

The later iPads are less bulky than the first ones… the kindle and other ereaders are lighter and more manageable… the mini still has the screen that glares at me; so does the nook… I like having an iPad in the living room instead of a tv and the kindle for reading in bed.

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Yona January 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm

To me, nothing beats feeling a book and turning the pages.

I have a Kindle with keyboard – won it in a giveaway actually.

I have yet to read an entire book on it, but I do use the Cloud often and download a ton of free books that bloggers post about. One of these days, I will get around to the Complete Tales of Oz

Most recently, I have found a use for it, and carry it in my purse now… I started the Wheat Belly Diet on Jan 1 and there’s a lot of things I can and cannot eat. I keep my Kindle in my purse because it holds several cookbooks for the diet. I am constantly going to a grocery store, and if I feel like making a certain recipe – I have the ingredients list at my fingertips. I can make notes and highlight certain things while I’m at the grocery store, and if I have a question about the diet, the books on the Kindle answer it.

However, I cannot get into reading entire books on a Kindle. I go to the library at least once a week. Its much easier for me to dive into a stack of books rather than push the buttons on my Kindle. Another plus about the Kindle is that it is convenient for travelers. I have used it once or twice to occupy my time while I was in an airport.

I’m the type of person that needs the Kindle Fire HD, which I plan on getting once I save up enough Swagbucks to get more Amazon GCs (I’m almost there). As an avid reader, this is why I will be getting the Fire HD instead of an iPad.
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annew January 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm

When I’m dozing I find myself trying to turn pages on my kindle… like the idea of the kindle in my purse.

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Eve Gumpel January 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

So far I’m happy with the library — if it gets any easier to read trashy mysteries and fantasy novels, I’ll never get anything done. Plus, there’s just something wrong when I think about curling up with a kindle while reading in bed.

Plus, I already have a dozen books downloaded onto my PC. They’re not the kind I read — they’re “good for me and my business books” — but I suspect I’ll never actually get around to reading them.

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annew January 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I find I’m reading about the same amount… just downloading the free books… sort of treating those like library books… and yeah, I know about good-for-me books!

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Elizabeth West January 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I wasn’t sure either about Kindle, but I downloaded the app to my PC and have been reading e-books a bit more frequently. Now I want one. But I want the fancy one that I can play movies on, so if I’m traveling I can get different types of content.

I’m fine with my books being electronic (WHEN) they get published, but yeah, the library thing is annoying. At my library, I have to wait even for a paper book if it’s a popular one. Hopefully they’ll get it worked out soon. Big business is slow to change.
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annew January 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm

At least at my library they order multiple copies of popular books… we’re a long way from doing digital well.

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annew January 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

ah, yes, movies… my iPad will do that and the Kindle that is really a tablet has a screen that’s too shiny for me for reading, but yes.
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