Getting to grips with the Amazon Kindle

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It takes a special gadget to capture my wife’s attention but the Amazon Kindle seems to have done quite well. Actually, I think that the Kindle’s success is largely down to the fact that it appeals to non-geeks (the low price helps) but I recently bought Mrs W. one as a present.

It was my first experience of using one of these devices (I’ve only used the Kindle app on iOS or Windows Phone until now) but it really couldn’t have been much simpler to set up. This is the latest incarnation of the Kindle (the Kindle 4 – officially known as “Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display“) and when it arrived, I wasn’t sure whether to open the “frustration free” packaging to find another box inside and wrap it as a gift, It turns out that the brown, wedge-shaped box with the word Kindle on the side and a rip-tab is the actual product packaging (typically functional and no-frills, but substantial enough to prevent damage).

After unboxing, all that was needed was to:

  • Plug the Kindle into a computer using the supplied USB cable.
  • Select the language.
  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network (using the soft keyboard).
  • Register (in this case, to an existing Amazon account – more on that in a moment).

That’s all the basics to get going but, in the Manage Your Kindle section of the Amazon website I also:

  • Edited the name (not much point my wife having a device that had defaulted to “Mark’s Kindle”).
  • Added an email address from which to receive personal documents (if emailed to the Kindle).

At this point it’s probably worth mentioning something about sharing Kindles.  Because I’ve been using the Kindle app on my devices, it made sense that we should be able to share publications with one another. Unfortunately, sharing requires the use of a single account (hence why my wife’s new Kindle was automatically named “Mark’s Kindle” and why the welcome note is addressed to me…). In the United States, there are limited options to lend books but it’s not universal, and it’s far from the model that we see in print (walk to shelf; pick up book; give to friend; friend returns book at some stage a few weeks later) – although I did find an interesting analogy on the Amazon website.

With multiple Kindles on one account:

  • We can select purchases individually but they are charged to one card.
  • Purchases using the Kindle will go to the Kindle being used at the time.
  • Purchases from the Amazon website can be sent to whichever Kindle is chosen.
  • Any purchase made can be also loaded onto other Kindles on the same account.

I’m not sure how easy it would be to damage the E Ink display but I didn’t want to take the chance – we bought a cover for Mrs W.’s Kindle which does have the downside of increasing weight and volume but also looks quite nice.  Amazon’s official cover is expensive (the one with a built-in light is even more so) but there are plenty of third-party alternatives available (the one I bought was less than £10 from

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the Kindle. Strangely, buying one for my wife has increased my use of the Kindle app on my iPad (partly due to our increased use of our Amazon account) and a Kindle Fire could well be my next tablet, assuming they make it to the UK before the rumoured iPad Mini…

4 thoughts on “Getting to grips with the Amazon Kindle

  1. Hi Mark,

    we found exactly the same – I have read at least 10x more books since I got my Kindle, and my wife (a prolific chick-lit paperback reader) is loving hers.

    Neither of us miss paper books really – which surprised both of us.

    For me, I also like the SoMe stuff when you finish a book – i.e post a review, see what other books it recommends based on what you’ve been reading – I’ve pretty much chain-purchased books in this manner since I got my Kindle!

    Great device/service.

  2. I’ve got to agree: the Kindle is a great device. I have also used the Kindle app on my iPad, but I have found that reading several pages of text on a backlit display can make my eyes tired; particularly as I do most of my reading just before sleep.

    My wife and I both have Kindles and we each have them registered to our separate Amazon accounts. We have very different tastes in literature so rarely miss the ability to lend ebooks. In addition, we both receive Amazon gift vouchers from time to time, and pooling them in a shared Amazon account would make it difficult to keep track of the gifts.

    The analogy you linked to on the Amazon website about lending ebooks does not hold true because, as you mentioned, Amazon US customers can already do this! Also, aren’t ebooks largely being marketed as a replacement for print books?

  3. Good to hear your thoughts Alex – particularly on sharing accounts.

    I’m struggling to see how the limited lending potential (if the publisher allows it) in the US negates the analogy though. You’re right that, ebooks seem to marketed as a replacement for “dead tree” editions but some people will always prefer paper (some types of books are more suited to it too).

    Looking at another industry that’s been through this already, Kodak failed to re-engineer itself as a digital company but its film business is still profitable, even in 2012 with a much smaller market!

    Interestingly, I read something a few days ago that whereas we can pass on our physical/analogue assets to future generations, our licenses to use digital content die with us (I haven’t checked the Amazon Ts and Cs) – which is kind of depressing…

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