I’ve now had my Kindle for almost four months, taken it on a few trips, and thought I’d report back on my experience and share some new information. If you didn’t read my first post on why the Kindle is one of the best gadgets for travel and considered to be the best e-reader available, please check it out. In that post I talk about the difference between the Wi-Fi only and the Free 3G + Wi-Fi versions and about many of the basic features and advantages. In this post I’m going to go a little more in depth in terms of some of the specific uses in terms of traveling with the Kindle.
The photo above is of two of my bookshelves packed full of guide books from more than 10 years of travel. If I were to turn the Kindle sideways, it would disappear from view because it’s about as wide as a #2 pencil. As much as I love my books, I’m running out of room. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a paper guidebook again if what I want is available electronically.
I recently downloaded samples (another great Kindle feature, the free preview: try before you buy) of the Frommer’s and Lonely Planet Cambodia guidebooks. I had the paper version of the Frommer’s book and I can say the Kindle version was pretty much the same. After looking at them, I chose to buy the Lonely Planet book because they have formatted it so that it’s easy to jump (via links) though the chapters and the Frommer’s book does not have this. They both have hyperlinks within the books which means it could take you out of the book and into a browser to see the website.
Lonely Planet also offers books by the chapter for Kindle which can be a money-saver. For example, many people may only visit Paris or the Loire Valley in France so the Lonely Planet The Loire Valley or the Lonely Planet Paris could be helpful. A full book is $9.99 and a chapter is $4.79.
Tho possibilities for books to read are endless. I rarely find something I want that’s not available on the Kindle. In fact, since I’ve had it, I’m reading more now than ever before. While many new releases are in the $9.99 to $12.99 range, I’ve read many free books and books by independent writers listed under $2.99 per book. Some of my favorite authors show up with free or discounted books too.
One of the biggest complaints about the Kindle was that you can’t lend or share a book. But that’s about to change. Amazon announced it’s new book “lending” option which is coming soon.
“…later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. “
There are a couple of other options for sharing books on the Kindle. An Amazon account can have multiple devices (Kindles, phones and computers) registered to it. Up to 6 devices can share books at one time as long as they are on the same account. Books can be read simultaneously. If two people both have Kindles (for example, couples or parent/child) on one person’s account, no problem as long as they are all listed on the same account.
But what if you want to share with a friend and have separate accounts? This is a bit trickier and technically “against the rules” at Amazon. The info is out there and it’s not that hard, though I haven’t tried it. Do a Google search if you want to attempt it.
Internet access on the Kindle:
When I first got the Kindle, I didn’t have a smart phone with email or web browsing so have internet access on the Kindle, especially with the 3G, was great for me. I have an Android phone now, so when I travel domestically, internet access on the Kindle might not be relevent. On the other hand, out the country, it still works in places where my phone might not work or charge high roaming fees for data transfer.
The “experimental” web browser (called “webkit”) works very fast compared to the 2nd Generation Kindle. Here are some examples of how I used it to get quick, free internet access.
First, I took it on a long weekend trip to San Francisco and was able to check email (Yahoo, Gmail, etc) from our room with it when the hotel wanted to charge $15 a day for wifi (this worked because my Kindle has 3G access, like a cell phone).
Next, I used it to do the same from LAX (where there is no free wifi, but I accessed it via 3G) and from the Taipei airport on the way to Cambodia (where there is free wifi, but no 3G access). One of the advantages to having the Kindle with both wifi and 3G is that you almost always have access. With the something like the iPad, if there’s no free wi-fi where you are, you’re either paying for internet access or you’re not connected.
When using the browser, mobile sites work better for email, Facebook and Twitter. Google Maps “works” but is way to awkward to use in any practical manner (my new phone with GPS is way better for this).
Amazon offers free apps for just about any format you might want to read a book; Android, iPhones, iPad, PC, Mac, etc, it’s all there. This means you can sinc your Kindle to your phone or other device and always have a book, even if you don’t have the Kindle with you. The Kindle app works amazingly well on my Android phone.
If I want to read something on my phone, it’s there and when I pick up my Kindle at home, it knows where I left off. Today I bought a book from my phone’s Kindle app and sent it to my Kindle at home and there it was, instantly available on my phone as well.
One of the nice things about the Kindle is that you can email yourself documents either in Word or a PDF. Each Kindle comes with it’s own email address through amazon for this purpose (not for sending emails).
Before I went to San Francisco, I emailed myself a word document I’d put together which was basically my own personal guidebook filled with restaurants and sightseeing info for the neighborhoods we’d be in. I used to carry a paper version of this on each trip, but now I don’t have to. I used the free.kindle.com email address to transfer the word document with convert in subject line (read about this on Amazon). It took about 30 seconds to show on Kindle. I also sent myself PDFs the same way.
I also like to use tripit.com for all my itinerary information. While I could access it through Kindle’s web browser, I didn’t want to have to, so I cut and pasted that info into a document and sent that to myself as well. This works very well for holding all my info like flight times and ticket reference numbers and other itinerary info. I referenced this quite a bit on both trips.
You can read more about Transferring, Downloading, and Sending Files to Kindle on Amazon.
Helpful Kindle Websites and Blogs:
Kindle Community Discussion Board on Amazon- I learned so much about my Kindle by reading this board while waiting for it to be delivered. There’s also lots of tips on free or discounted books here.
Kindle World Blog– This is one of my favorites about all things Kindle, and Andrys Basten who writes it, is an avid traveler too.
BlogKindle– The “unofficial” Kindle Blog.
Daily Cheap Reads- Books under $5 for Kindle
Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Affiliate. That means if you click on any of my Amazon links and buy something, I get a tiny commission and it helps support this site which is always appreciated!
That said, I’d be writing this post with or without being an affiliate because I think the Kindle is revolutionary not only in terms of travel, but for reading books in general. It also makes a great gift!