In a previous blog, I talked about the switch I made a few years ago to digital books versus paper copies. Back in 1987, when we left for the Philippines, we sent all our books in barrels to Manila. Ten years later, when we moved to Russia, we sent the books back to Canada in those same barrels, and took a much more limited number of books with us to Russia in our suitcases. We have now moved to Ukraine, and again some of my books have been sent back to stay in storage in Canada. It is just too expensive and difficult to haul my library every time we move to another country.
In that same blog, I talked about the Amazon Kindle as a means of both obtaining and reading English books when you are overseas, and in countries where few English resources are available. Since then, I have discovered that many of my colleagues in SEND have purchased a Kindle, and have fallen in love with it. My wife and I now own two Kindles, and use them almost every day. Besides reading, we both enjoy playing Scrabble on the Kindle, either against the computer or against one another.
My Kindle library has now grown to almost 800 books, the vast majority (probably 95%) of which were downloaded for free. How do I find all these free books? By monitoring a blog like Kindle Review which publishes a daily list of the books that are available for free for that day. I found another three good books this morning, all free. Of course, “good” is somewhat relative, when you are not paying anything for them. Generally, publishers offer their books for free for just a few days to boost the “sales” and the ratings on Amazon.
With so many books, how do I keep track of them all? Amazon now provides a site for keeping track of your own books, as well as your highlights and notes in your books. You can even “follow” what other friends are reading, and see what they are highlighting (if they make their annotations public).
But I find that Calibre is a much more robust program for managing all of your digital books, not just your Kindle books. Calibre is a free downloadable program that is constantly being updated. Its search capabilities are top notch. One of its unique features is its ability to download the contents of a newspaper web site (like the New York Times) or magazine (like Fast Company) and send it to your Kindle in a very readable and searchable format.
Another recent innovation by Amazon is the “Send to Kindle” feature for personal documents that you want to read or keep on your Kindle. From any Windows application that can print, you can select “Print” and then choose “Send to Kindle”. If your computer and Kindle are both connected to a wireless Internet connect, the document will appear on your Kindle in a few minutes, with no charge for the transfer. When I was in the Philippines, I prepared a testimony in Tagalog on my computer and sent it to my Kindle, and then in church, I read from my Kindle rather than using paper. Since I did not have a printer with me, this was really handy. That same Sunday morning, the Filipino pastor preached his entire message without any paper notes, using only his Kindle as his notes. It was a great message, much better than my short testimony.