Amazon has dropped the price of the 3G Kindle to $139, and the WiFi Kindle to $114, if you’re willing to tolerate ads on the home page of the device. I like my Kindle, and for those of you who have one or are considering one, I wanted to share a couple of tips for reading long-form magazine articles.
The Kindle is good for one thing, reading text, but for that it’s excellent. I prefer the Kindle’s screen over any backlit LCD, no matter how high the resolution. With battery life measured in weeks, and weight measured in ounces, it’s great to take on trips even though I’m the kind of person who always travels with a laptop. Even though Amazon would like you to use Kindle to buy books and subscribe to periodicals via their store, every Kindle includes an email address which allows you to email content to the device. In the past few months, I’ve used that address to read hundreds of magazine articles on my Kindle.
Kindle comes in have WiFi and 3G versions. The 3G version connects using the AT&T cell phone network or wireless Internet, and the WiFi version can only use WiFi. Both versions will let you email content to the device, but since the 3G version costs Amazon money, Amazon charges you a few cents to get content when the device is on 3G. To avoid those charges, 3G owners have a regular Kindle email address and a free one. Use the free one unless you don’t mind spending a buck or two to get articles on your Kindle. Both of these email addresses are managed on your “Manage your Kindle” page on Amazon. To avoid spam, Amazon will only let email addresses that you authorize communicate with your Kindle. For any of the following to work, you need to set up your email address and allow a couple of email addresses to communicate with your Kindle on the “Manage your Kindle” page.
The first service that I find useful is a site called Delivereads. The owner of the site sends out a weekly “newsletter” that has around 4 long-form magazine articles. He’s got pretty good taste, and the service is totally free. If you’re at all intrigued about reading magazine content on your Kindle, I’d give this a shot to see if it’s worth the trouble.
The second service is Klip.me. It’s delivered as a browser extension in Chrome and Safari, and a bookmarklet in Firefox and IE. What that means is that users of Chrome, for example, will get a little button in their toolbar after installing Klip.me. When you press the button, the contents of the page you’re viewing will be sent to your Kindle’s email address. Usually, articles sent that way show up in under a minute. I’ve tried a couple of other, similar services, and this one is by far the best.
When I see a long article that I want to read later, I go to the “print” or “single page” version, and hit the Klip.me button. Because the Kindle’s formatting is much simpler than a web page, and because a lot of publishers are trying to maximize page views, this doesn’t always work, but I’ve found that it’s fairly reliable, and after a few tries, you can usually judge which pages aren’t going to be sent correctly.
Finally, a site that’s worth a visit for more long-form magazine writing is Byliner. This site allows you to search for online magazine articles by authors you like, and it also has a section called “Byliner Originals”. These are “Kindle singles”, which usually cost about 99 cents, that are commissioned specifically for the site.
When I first got my Kindle, I subscribed to a couple of magazines, but I found that they really weren’t worth the money. I’d rather pay a la carte, but that market is still in its infancy. I’d like to see more curated content like Delivereads, and I’d be willing to pay for it. Since Google is going to create a Kindle-like reader, and Amazon is probably going to break the $100 price point with its next Kindle, I think there’s a market here.