As I travel and talk to missionaries, I see and hear that more and more of them have purchased the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, or are planning to do so in the near future. With the significant reduction in price to under $140 for the Wi-Fi only version, the cost is no longer prohibitive. Given the difficulty and expense of first of all shipping the books they own to their assigned field and then purchasing additional resource books in English while overseas, I am not surprised by this interest in the Kindle on the part of so many missionaries. See my blog post a few months ago.
But this is only half the story! Did you know that many books for the Amazon Kindle (electronic book reader) are available for free? Publishers, including a number of Christian publishing houses, frequently allow e-books to be “purchased” at no cost for a very limited time (a few days), so as to boost their rankings in the Amazon store. FYI, in the span of the last 6 weeks, I have downloaded 43 free Kindle books! Realistically, I doubt that I will read even a quarter of them. Nineteen of those were non-fiction books by Christian authors, including ones by John MacArthur, Max Lucado, Mark Buchanan, and Bill Hybels. As a result of these finds, I have recently read The Power of a Whisper Participant’s Guide: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels and am currently reading Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard (and others). Great books, and ones that I was wanting to read anyway, but I found them for free!
How do I find out about free books that are being offered for a limited time only? I regularly check blogs about the Kindle and the iReaderReview blog is one of the best in keeping me updated on the latest free books being released on Kindle.
Furthermore, millions of public domain books (those whose copyright has expired because they were published before 1923) are also available at no cost. For example, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is available in Kindle format. Check this Amazon site to find out where you can find these public domain books.
Some more good news is that you do not need to buy a Kindle to read these books. Amazon has created several different apps allowing you to read their Kindle books on your computer, smartphone or iPad. And these apps are free! So if you own a computer and an Internet connection, you can have almost an endless supply of good reading material wherever you happen to be in the world – all at no cost. Although it will require some hunting and keeping on the lookout for bargains, the practice of nurturing your soul and continuing your professional development through the reading good books is very accessible, even to a missionary budget.