Sharing What I Find

Instructional Design and Technology in Education

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle2 Introducton Video

The Amazon Kindle 2, an electronic reader, was easy to set up and begin using. It is essentially a plug-and-play device. After you charge it up you can begin to use it. The users manual comes loaded and is pretty easy to navigate. You can either read though it page by page or go through the table of contents and select where you need more help.

One of the first things you’ll see, when the Kindle goes to sleep mode, are the nicely designed screen savers portraying different authors. Another very nice feature is that the power cable is also the USB cord so you only have to worry about one piece. The electrical plug end snaps off to reveal the USB connector. Nice feature when you are traveling.

Reading Material
When I got ready to obtain reading material I went to the Amazon.com website to redirect the registration on the Kindle. It was registered to CDE’s amazon account and I wanted to change the registration to my personal account. If you don’t already have an account on amazon its pretty easy to get one started.

Transferring from one account to another took a couple of clicks and was easy to navigate through the process.

Amazon.com keeps track of the files that you have requested a download for keeps a copy on your account in case you need it again. You can also see the download status of documents. Depending on file size and the wireless network speed, it might take a while for the downloaded file to show up on the Kindle.

Through Amazon, there are many free downloads, sample chapters, access to daily subscriptions like   newspapers or other daily blogs, as well as offering the service to convert your documents to Kindle ready files for others to use.

Whispernet Wireless Coverage
A wireless delivery system for the Kindle, Whispernet is a part of Sprint’s nationwide network. The technology allows you to have the capability to download books wherever you are — you don’t have to be tied to your internet source. Sprint uses the EV standard described as the following from Wikipedia:

Evolution-Data Optimized or Evolution-Data only, abbreviated as EV-DO or EVDO and often EV, is a telecommunications standard for the wireless transmission of data through radio signals, typically for broadband Internet access.

The technology lets you surf the web, download files from the internet, and check your email. But don’t get too excited about the service because it runs really slow! The Kindle is pre-programmed to search the Kindle store, Wikipedia, google, or the entire web.

I browsed the coverage map and found a map showing the coverage in Alaska for downloading Kindle files. It appears that the slower-speed access is available in Alaska along most of the major road systems. The map does not snow as having access in communities like Barrow, Bethel, or Nome. But don’t get discouraged. I have a feeling this is not accurate. Plus you don’t need to use the wireless connection to download files — if you have a computer with a usb connection you can always download the files to your computer and then hook up your kindle and transfer the files over.

Subscriptions
I downloaded the 14-day free trial of The Onion. The onion is updated daily on the kindle. The only problem I had with it is that if I didn’t get a chance to read the posts before the next day’s posts were downloaded then the previous articles disappeared. You snooze, you loose!

Also I was disappointed that the audio files that sometimes show up on The Onion as posts didn’t work on the kindle. I wasn’t expecting the videos to work.

Readability
I thought it was very easy to read on the Kindle screen. You can change the font size to about 5 different settings to fit your preference. The size is comfortable to hold and the buttons seem to be in the right place. They say you can even read it in the bright sunlight and having an opportunity I tried it outside!

It does not have a reading light or even a back light so in low level lights you still need to have additional luminance.

There are other places to get free downloadable books for the Kindle. Check out these resources gathered by 43 Folders or these gathered on a Kindle 2 blog.

I downloaded The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from feedbooks.com to my computer and then connected the Kindle through the ubs connection. The Kindle shows up on your desktop like any other external drive would show and I moved the .modi file from my desktop to the documents folder on the Kindle. Like other files, it will first appear in the Archive folder until you open it for the first time.

There are some textbooks that we use at CDE that are Kindle ready but after doing a short search I didn’t come up with more than a few and most of these might be considered tradebooks. I do not know but would be interested in seeing if the publishers are offering Kindle textbooks from their websites or are making them available for college bookstores.

If you get tired of reading the words for yourself, there is a text to speech function you can initiate. This is an experimental feature and could use some work on making the voice more authentic!

Audio Files
The Kindle will pay mp3 files in the background while you read — looking under the experimental area for both MP3 and Text-to-Speech functions.

Creating your own files to Kindle-ready files
Kindle will read document files such as: .azw, .txt and .mobi or .prc files. If you have other file types you will need to convert them to one of these formats.

There are a couple options for creating Kindle ready files: sending files to Amazon to convert to Kindle files, use of of the free download sites to create documents or a Digital Text Platform, a self-service publishing platform.

When you set up your amazon account you need to set up an email that you will use when you want to convert your files to files you can read on the kindle. Your email is [username]@Kindle.com. When you send your files as attachments they are converted and then available for download to your kindle account. They accept files in a variety of formats: DOC, PDF, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get this to work. I’ve tried several times but never get a message back from amazon.

There are a couple of free window applications that also proclaim to be able to convert files to be uploaded to Kindle: Stanza for ipod and itouch,   Mobipocket Creator and Auto Kindle eBook Converter 0.4.50.

Please note that I have not tried them out yet so can’t not endorse any of them.

The Digital Text Platform provides you the opportunity sell your document through the amazon store. There is a process you go through to make sure things are formatted correctly and where you set a price to sell your document.

The Kindle is a nice way to carry multiple documents you want to read with you. You are able to make notes with the keypad that you can save and use later. Its a nice size for holding and the screen is pretty easy on the eyes. If you travel or find yourself with time to read and want to be away from your laptop or a bunch of paperbacks then the Kindle might be a great tool to have for convenience. Here in Alaska I wouldn’t depend on the kindle for checking email or using the internet – its just too slow.

Author: Heidi Olson

Heidi enjoys working with content experts in developing eCampus courses to provide alternatives for students. Her other interests include faculty training in best practices for eCampus and researching eCampus tools to help fulfill learning outcomes. Having worked in the distance education arena for over 20 years, she has a wide range of experiences in supporting students and faculty as technology and pedagogy evolve.

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