Recently, I put some birthday money towards a Kindle Keyboard (albeit the WiFi-only model, being sold as a “refurbished” item by Amazon itself), and am enjoying getting to know the e-reader better. I’m not in a position to write anything like a review of the Kindle yet (and besides, there are tons of those out on the Web by now), but I thought I’d like to share a couple of “accessories” (one “real”, and two software services) which I suspect might be useful to even newer Kindle owners.
Firstly: I think the Kindle (and certainly the larger Keyboard model) really benefits from some kind of case or sleeve. I looked around in various stores and online, and in the end I found a very well-made leather-type case in, of all places, ASDA: the Pro-Tec Protect Kindle case, for a shade under £12. Not only does it look quite stylish (to my eyes), and shields the Kindle’s screen comprehensively, but the case is made to act as a desk-stand if you so wish—very practical.
So, onto the two Web services:
This service collects items from the RSS feeds you specify, and compiles them into an “e-magazine”, which can then be sent directly to your Kindle via its email address, or you can download it yourself and “sideload” it via USB. If you want automatic (scheduled) delivery of your Kindlefeeder e-mag, you’ll need to cough up $20 for an annual subscription to the service, but I find it so useful that I’m giving it serious thought.
This “Web clippings” service has been around a while, and seems to have made a particular splash lately as an iPad app.
One of Instapaper’s killer features (and the one which got me using it on a daily basis), is its Kindlefeeder-esque ability to send a regular “periodical” of your “clipped” Web articles directly to your Kindle. Unlike Kindlefeeder, Instapaper offers the scheduling for free, although you can’t pipe whole RSS feeds into Instapaper (though I guess it could be done somehow).
I see Kindlefeeder and Instapaper as complementary rather than rivals—KF can handle the RSS sources, while IP can take the specific articles you choose. (It should also be noted that Kindlefeeder kindly embeds an “add to Instapaper” link with each article in the Kindlefeeder e-book—a very selfless act on KF’s part, and definitely nice to have.) Instapaper also gives you the option to buy a subscription, though you don’t receive any “premium” features, so perhaps it should be thought of more in terms of a “donation” for the service, should you find it useful.
Two other brief mentions, of accessories which I like to use with my Kindle but haven’t tried much yet:
- Calibre is an e-book reader management application for Linux, Mac and Windows, offering a wide range of features including format conversion, library management and a useful-looking Kindlefeeder-like RSS aggregator (which I have yet to try in earnest). Once I really get to grips with Calibre, I suspect I won’t be able to do without it!
- And finally, a quick mention for Project Gutenberg, the venerable repository of public-domain literature which every book-loving e-book reader owner should get to know. They offer texts in various formats, including a native Kindle version, and Calibre comes in handy for “side-loading” e-books onto the Kindle via USB (though you can simply copy the files direct via USB mass-storage if you wish).
Perhaps I’ll write more about the Kindle in due course, but in the meantime I hope the above is of some use to a new Kindle owner.