Tag Archives: Kindle

Kindle Paperwhite 2013–My thoughts

pw_tnSo my wife told me to order the new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. I figured they would fix the issues with the screen and I could sell mine for a good price since, lets be honest, this latest version isn’t much of an upgrade. I went to read the reviews and the first one-star review I read gave me pause. He is experiencing the same screen issues I saw with the first-gen Paperwhite. The same issue that had me send my Paperwhite back several times. But it was only one guy, the other one-star complaints were bordering on ridiculous.

But then I scratched my head and I asked myself… what hardware differences exist between this model and last years? … Supposedly a faster processor – this wouldn’t matter to readers as we don’t have apps on this thing.. so whether or not this is true? Doesn’t really matter.

Secondly, they changed the case. There is now a large Amazon logo on the back. Some folks complained but Amazon explained that the name Amazon is more familiar worldwide than Kindle – which adorned the back of the first-gen Paperwhite. I’m not really one to care about stuff that is going to be hidden in a case anyway. I’ll call this a wash.

Finally, they redesigned the light guides so there are less uneven spots like what last years model had. This is the hardware aspect that interests me the most. I was promised even lighting in the first-gen model, and it took me a lot of returns to get one that most closely delivered on that promise.

So what changes will matter most to readers? Software. There are some new features, such as the device remembering when you look up a word. It tosses the word into a deck of on-screen cards so you can expand your vocabulary. This could be of some use to me since I tend to use the same twenty-six words over and over again. It’s true. This article was written with only twenty-six words. Count them.  .. okay, don’t. I lied about that. But it could come in handy. Who doesn’t like appearing well edju-ma-cated?

Then there is upcoming Goodreads integration. If anyone is patient enough to write a book review on the Kindle, they are a better person than I. The integration though seems to have more to do with what your friends are reading and recommending. Similar to what we saw with Barnes & Noble’s NOOKfriends software.

Another new feature is Page Flip. An option that lets you bounce between different areas of the book, like those maps in Game of Thrones without leaving the page you’re on. Improved footnote handling is also advertised. Now the callouts are handled on the current screen, without bouncing you to another part of the book.

There are a couple of other little things both hardware and software wise that seem less notable. But the biggest changes are software.. and it sort of irritates me that existing owners aren’t given the opportunity to purchase a software upgrade. I see nothing in that new software feature set that requires a faster processor.

I’m sure at least a few of you would consider a $20-$30 upgrade to the new software if you were interested in the new features. Especially considering $20-$30 is more than Amazon is making on the hardware they are selling. We hear all the time that Kindle’s are a loss leader; it’s the books and apps that they make money on. Why not make a chunk of change on the OS too?

I guess the whole point of this was to think my decision to buy out loud. I really like my Kindle Paperwhite 2012 but it does have just the tiniest bit of uneven lighting. It’s very minor. But I am very interested in some of the software features, particularly the upcoming Goodreads integration. And Page Flip will come in handy when reading Game of Thrones, so will X-Ray for that matter – but that’s not a new feature.

So yes, I think the Paperwhite 2013 is worth a shot. But you can bet that I’ll be getting a perfect model this time. No compromise. The Paperwhite 2012 is almost perfect, the new software isn’t compelling enough to accept ‘almost perfect’ again.

Wish me luck. This could be the last eInk eReader I buy for a very long time.

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A TheDustyBlog Guide to Sideloading

So, you have some ebooks that aren’t tied to one of the big ebook retailers out there. Maybe you got an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of a book from TheCheapEbook. Or maybe you bought a book from Smashwords. In any case, here is a – hopefully – helpful guide to get those files to your Android or iOS device of choice for eyeball consumption.

Just click the type of file you have under the type of device you have.

Android (Phone/Tablet)

.mobi & .pdf  – Using the Kindle app to sideload .mobi and .pdf files to your Android device is as simple as email!

.epub (cloud storage) – I use Dropbox to get sideloaded epub files to my Android device. Here’s my process.

.epub (offline) – Not everyone wants to mess with online services. Here’s how to sideload an epub using just your PC and Android device.

.pdf – We’re going to use Dropbox to sideload a PDF file to your Android device.

.pdf (offline) – So you want to move your PDF file without Dropbox? Why? Doesn’t matter. I’ll help.

iOS (iPhone/iPad)

.mobi & .pdf – Using the Kindle app to sideload .mobi and .pdf files to your iOS device is as simple as email!

.epub & pdf – Dropbox and iBooks combine to bring us sideloaded .epubs and .pdfs.

My Take: Kindle Paperwhite

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Let me begin with the caveat that this story is unfinished. It’s a work in progress and I’ll post additional details on my blog as the story continues and (hopefully soon) concludes.

I recently bought a Kindle Paperwhite. It was my first Kindle. I was a staunch Barnes and Noble NOOK guy. Is that a NOOKer? In any case, I got tired of defective charging cables. I got tired of customer service giving me the runaround. I got tired of being told to go purchase things with my own money and then mail in receipts for a refund.

I just got tired, alright?

I decided enough was enough and that I had to at least give Amazon a chance to wow me. And in some degrees they have and in others they’ve done so for the wrong reasons.

When I ordered my Kindle Paperwhite on November 3rd, I was told I could expect it on December 24th.

Happy Christmas Eve to me.

To my wonderment and delight, it arrived on November 20th. I was super excited but my enthusiasm was tempered pretty fast. I noticed there was the shadowing that I had heard others mention. Basically it looked like the screen wasn’t purely white, it looked like there were darker spots on the screen, like a shadow. Nothing big. I could deal. It wasn’t exactly as advertised, but it would do. But then I noticed something else.

There was a pinhole in the screen. Not a top layer because it was smooth to the touch but on a sub-layer of the screen and it allowed light to shine much brighter through that tiny hole.

You know how when you get a crack in your windshield how sometimes the sun hits it just right and it magnifies the light right toward your eyes? It’s sort of like that. I mean it’s not blinding like the sun, but it is a bit of a distraction. When I’m reading in that area of the page my eye always catches on it.

I called Amazon and they were very apologetic. They offered to send me a second device. They even sent it two-day delivery. I was impressed.

And then I got that device. It was worse than the first. It was pretty white, but it had three larger holes where the light came through. I called Amazon and again got someone great. They apologized and sent another device. I asked if I could hold onto my first while we worked it out and they said absolutely I could. I was pleased.

Device number three came 2-day delivery just like device number two. Another good experience. I opened the box. This one had terrible color and it had a pinhole of light too. In a different place on the screen but still there nonetheless. I called Amazon and got a woman this time who was nowhere near as nice as the first two I dealt with. She wasn’t mean or argumentative by any measure but she seemed uninterested and just going through the motions. The first two people I had dealt with seemed like they genuinely enjoyed their job, so she just paled in comparison is all.

Device number four came 2-day and it was the worst yet. It was like half the screen barely lit while there were still the light holes, also in a new place.

This time I was frustrated and took to Twitter and said: “Latest @amazonkindle Paperwhite is 2-tone. White on the bottom, brown on the top. Fourth Paperwhite is the worst one yet. So disappointed.”

I sat down to watch TV with the family when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Kindle Support. They indicated that they saw my Twitter comment and they were once again apologetic and offered me a couple of options. I could return my Paperwhite for a full refund or I could try another replacement. I told the guy that I want the Paperwhite, so please send a replacement. He said that he was hoping I would say that.

I got Paperwhite #5 in the mail yesterday while I was at work. When I got home I opened it and found that it was better than the last one. It had the same pinhole my first one does but it was far into a corner. I could live with that but when I went to turn the brightness up on it I found that it was already at its brightest setting. It was what I’ve affectionately coined a Kindle Paperbrown.

And that’s where I’m at currently.

Props to Amazon for issuing me Paperwhite after Paperwhite without friction. It’s a pain that I have to drive to the UPS Store to drop off my bad units, but I guess it’s better than them just telling me I should return my Kindle and be done with it. B&N has done that to me before. And I was in store next to a friend when the manager said it to him too regarding his NOOK Tablet. I also give Amazon props for calling me. I’ve never once complained about a situation and had that company contact me by phone to see how they can help. It’s just an amazing testament to how seriously they take their customer service. Well done.

So Amazon, I really want a Paperwhite that is pristine. I want one that is actually white when turned up. I’ll understand if there is a little shadowing. It’s not truly what was originally advertised with the whole “perfect uniformity of light” but I’m a reasonable guy. However, I cannot tolerate the pinholes of light. What do you say, Amazon? I’ve had four refurb’s now. How about a new unit?

To be continued…

Update 1: Amazon representative tells me that he is pretty sure they have been sending me new units all along. I doubt this since there have been “R”’s on the UPC AND they don’t come with the paper flier that my brand new one did. In any event, Paperwhite #6 is on its way.

Sneak Peek: Kindle on Windows 8

How could this happen? How could Microsoft and NOOK allow Kindle to release a Modern UI app before NOOK? Microsoft is in a partnership with NOOK now. I mean they spun off the NOOK business to a whole new company. I should be doing a sneak peek of NOOK on Windows 8, but I’m not. So let’s take these lemons and make lemonade.

This is what your new Windows 8 Start menu looks like. Well, give or take a few apps that I added.

You can click to enlarge many of the images in this sneak peek.1

I downloaded the Kindle app from the Store app.

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Once you install Kindle, you’ll have an app tile that looks like this:

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Click on that and you’ll launch into the Kindle Modern UI app. Logging in is the first order of business. Fill out your Amazon account email address and password and click Register this Kindle.

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It is going to spend just a quick moment Loading… your Amazon library. You can see that there are a couple of initial options: Cloud, Device and Kindle Store. These function pretty much as you’d expect. Cloud represents the whole of your Amazon ebook purchases. Device represents just what you’ve downloaded locally to your Windows 8 PC. Kindle Store is where you can purchase more Kindle books.

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After the Loading… has finished you’ll default to your Cloud library. I went ahead and downloaded some books locally so this next screenshot actually shows you what’s on my Device (Windows 8 PC).

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“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking, “You skipped how to download books?”

Well, yes. But it’s very easy. Double-click the book to read it and it automatically downloads. Alternatively you can right click on a book and a menu will popup along the bottom and give you some options. Here, I’ll give you a screenshot.

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There is something in Windows 8 called pinning. It allows you to pin things to the new Start page similar to how you’d pin things to your Start Menu or Taskbar in previous versions of Windows. The Kindle app lets you pin books to your Start page. You right-click on a book and that menu I just showed you will pop back up. I’m going to pin a new book by Benjamin Wallace called Dumb White Husband vs. Babies: A Guide for the Unsuspecting Father. There is an icon labeled Pin. When you click it you’ll see the following popup. You are free to name the book whatever you want. I decided to change the name of mine to Dumb White Husband vs. Babies.

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The Pin icon turns to an Unpin icon and you’ve created your Start page shortcut to the book. Here is a screenshot of what that looks like.

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And of course you can move things around to your liking.

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If you click that pinned book shortcut then you’ll launch right into the book where you left off.

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So that covers the launching titles portion of the event. The Kindle Modern UI app is pretty full featured too.

When you are in the text and right-click you’ll see the following menu:

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Library takes you back to your book library.

Back takes you back to the previous page. Since I launched right into the book, I have no “back” to go to.

Go to takes you to a particular place in your book.

View gives you display options.

Bookmark will place a bookmark. Is that too “stating the obvious?”

Notes/marks will display any notes you’ve taken as well as show you where you’ve bookmarked.

Sync will sync both your reading location and your library. So if you just bought a new Kindle book on your PC and told it to deliver to your Windows 8 Kindle App this should force the process of download it. That said, I haven’t needed it. Newly purchased books have shown up as I’d expect.

And we’ve already covered Pin to Start.

Let’s look closer at some of those options.

Here are the Go to options

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Here are the View options:

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The least exciting option of all, Bookmark. Kind of a throwback to the days of paper, eh?

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They also have a nice dictionary feature that pops up when you right click on a word.

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Of course, it’s not perfect. There is no recognizing context.

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Somehow I doubt the author was told that his heart would melt the first time his children called him a style and technique of a group of early 20th century artists. Or maybe he did. Who am I to say?

Now you can also select a whole block of text and choose to Highlight it or write a Note by right-clicking.

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Highlight does exactly as you’d expect. It smears a nice highlighter yellow line over the text. In case you were wondering I wasn’t able to figure out how to change the color of the highlighter. Maybe they are saving that feature for another revision of the software.

Right-clicking and choosing Note brings up a Create Note textbox. Just fill it out and click Save.

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The area you just noted gets highlighted in the same highlighter yellow as choosing the highlight text. The only way to distinguish the two is the fact that there is a blue note icon above the highlighted text.

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The software keeps all of your highlighted and noted text organized in the Notes/marks option I showed you earlier on that option bar that slides down when you right click in the text.

The Notes/marks option will produce something that looks like this:

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I think the Amazon folks did a great job of producing a very functional Modern UI app. I have to imagine that NOOK’s will be similar if not almost entirely the same. It’s hard to do too much radically different when considering what an eReader is supposed to do. But in this case, I’d be happy with a NOOK offering that provides this same functionality.

In closing, I’d like to thank Benjamin Wallace for letting me use his book’s text in my blog post. He’s a great guy who writes some truly funny books. You can reach Ben in the following ways. [ Twitter ] – [ Facebook ] – [ Website ]

And don’t forget to pickup his latest Dumb White Husband vs. Babies.

I’d be missing an opportunity to promote us both if I didn’t tell you to check out dumbwhitehusband.com and read my guest post on my wife trying to kill me running [ here ].

While I’m in the process of promoting some worthy folks let me also mention the woman who designed the cover for Dumb White Husband vs. Babies along with many (all?) of Ben’s other books. That woman is Patty Wallace and you can see her samples and contract her to design your book cover or branding all from MonkeyPAWCreative.com.

iOS: Sideloading .mobi & .pdf files

There really is one dead simple way of getting .mobi and .pdf files to your iOS tablet or smartphone for reading consumption and that is emailing it to your Kindle’s email address. Yes, it really does have its own email address.

Step 1a – Finding your Kindle apps email address in the Kindle app

The iOS Kindle App opens to the “All Items” screen. In the bottom right hand corner is a grey cog. Tap that to enter settings.

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In settings, you’ll find an option that reads Send-to-Kindle Email Address. That is the email address of your kindle app. You can send an email with a .mobi or .pdf file as an attachment to that email address and the file will side load itself.

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Don’t worry. Your email address will be legible. I just couldn’t risk having all the spam bots sending free advertising to my Kindle app. =)

Step 1b – Finding your Kindle apps email address on Amazon.com

Go to Amazon.com and login.

On the right-hand side of the page there is an option that says Hello (yournamehere), Your Account. If you hover over your name a dropdown menu will appear and one of the options on it is Manage your Kindle. Click that link.

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You may be prompted to login to your Amazon account again, if so log in.

On the left hand side there will be a submenu titled Your Kindle Account and a clickable link titled Manage Your Devices. Click Manage Your Devices.

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On that page you’ll see a orange header that reads Registered Kindle Reading Apps along with a list of all devices you have the Kindle app installed on. It’ll also have that device’s email address.

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Step 2 – Email the .mobi or .pdf file to your Kindle app.

This part is pretty easy, basically take the .mobi or .pdf file add it to an email as an attachment and email your Kindle’s email address. If the .mobi or .pdf file is in an email, you can save the file to your desktop (or wherever) and attach it to an email. If it’s already in an email, you could just try forwarding it to your Kindle’s email address. I haven’t tried this last one, but it won’t hurt you to try it yourself.

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Again, I hid my Kindle apps email address but the most important thing for you to notice is that I attached a .mobi file. My file showed up almost instantly, but if it doesn’t. I would give it a minute or two. Anymore than two minutes and I may suspect something happened. The same cannot be said for a .pdf file though.

Note: The .pdf file I emailed took hours to show up. I don’t know if this was just a case of Kindle servers hiccupping or maybe Amazon screens the .pdf files for harmful components. In any case, you can email .pdf files but it may take a while to show up. You’d be better off sideloading via Dropbox.

In any case, in just moments you should be able to check your Kindle app for the title you just sent over. If the title doesn’t show up automagically on it’s own, try hitting that refresh icon in the top right hand corner next to the shopping cart.

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Viola! That’s all there is to it. You have now sideloaded a mobi or PDF file to the Kindle app.

In case you are wondering if I am going to answer the question I posed in the email to myself. I can’t see anywhere within the kindle app where any attention was paid to my email’s subject line or email content. The only thing my kindle app recognized was the .mobi attachment.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the comments section below.

Optional Step:

Please consider making a donation for my efforts in bringing you this tutorial.

If not PayPal, I sure wouldn’t hate a Kindle Gift Card. If you’d rather gift a book so that I don’t use that gift card on coffee or electronics, here is a link to my Amazon Gift Registry. Ignore the big ticket items, this is also where I keep my Christmas/Birthday wishlist. =)

Android: Sideloading PDF files (online)

There are so many ways and apps you can use to open/read .PDF files on Android – only their features and interface differ – so I’m going to show you how I sideload .PDF to my Android phone and you can decide if you like the process.

If you are immediately intimidated by the length of this tutorial, please scroll down to “In conclusion” and read that. MOST of this is a one time deal, never to require repeating. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Step One – On PC: Creating a Dropbox account

This process requires a Dropbox account, but if you have SugarSync or Box.net or any other application that will allow you to access remote files on your Android device then you should be good. If you already have this setup on your Android device, skip to Step Three.

Alright, glad you’re still here with me. First things first, we need to get you a Dropbox account. Dropbox is basically a software that grants you some web storage and has a client for your PC/Phone and Tablet which will allow you to put a file in once place and access it everywhere. Cloud storage can be awesome, yes?

So go sign up for a Dropbox account via this link: http://db.tt/orat4UXk
Note: This is a referral link but you and I will both benefit from it. We both get extra storage. It’s not a monetary thing.

It will walk you through the process of the sign up and installation of the desktop client. I highly recommend the desktop client piece, it will make future book sideloading a breeze.

Step Two – On Android: Install Dropbox

This is really just as easy as going to the Play Store and downloading the free app. [ Link here ]

Launch the app and login with your Dropbox credential. Things will be a little bare but we’ll remedy that soon enough.

Step Three – On PC: Place the .PDF file in Dropbox

If you installed the Dropbox desktop client, you now have a folder on your computer called Dropbox. If you can’t find it, you can right click on the Dropbox icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen next to the clock.

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Next step is to move the .PDF file that you want to sideload to the Dropbox folder. I’m going to move a book called Arena Mode by Blake Northcott over. Since I helped fund the project via Kickstarter, I got DRM-free copies of her new book in multiple formats.

I created a folder in Dropbox called aBookTutorial, but you can call it whatever you want or skip folders all together. It’s up to you. I created a folder and store my ebooks there. I downloaded the PDF file (and other formats) from her website via the link I was sent. You could have gotten the .PDF file from download or maybe from an email. It doesn’t really matter how you got the file, drop it into your Dropbox folder. Wherever you want to.

Here is what my folder looks like on my desktop

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Dropbox will then shoot those files up into the cloud. It may take a few minutes (or longer, if your book is particularly large.)

Step 4 – On Android: Confirm File Sync in Dropbox

Now we’re going to confirm that our files are syncing up. If you see the folders and files you’ve created, then you are good. We’ll move onto Step 5. Below is what my Android device looks like after I performed Step 3 above.

After I’ve logged into my Dropbox app, I see this

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When I click into it I see this

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Step 5 – On Android: See if you already have a PDF reader installed

There are probably countless PDF Readers in the Play Store. Chances are you probably have one already installed. My phone came preloaded with a free version of “QuickOffice” that will open PDFs. I also have the Kindle app that reads them. So how do you know if you have an app already installed that reads PDFs? Just look in your Dropbox folder and click on that .PDF file you moved over. Android should either automatically open it, or give you a list of applications that support PDF loading. Here is what it looked like on my Android device when I attempted to open a PDF.

Before I show you the image, I want you to notice something specific. There are three apps that are identified as handling PDF files. When you select an app, two more buttons are going to un-grey and become clickable “Always” and “Just once.” If you don’t know which of the apps you prefer PLEASE press Just once.

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The PDF will open in the application of your choice. IF the app just opened, you may have already clicked “Always” once before. OR you may have only a single app available to open PDF files.

If, by chance, you don’t have an application installed that reads PDFs, I have personal experience with Aldiko, Kindle and my personal favorite for PDF handling ezPDF Reader [ here ]. Adobe, parent of the PDF, also has a free PDF reader so don’t feel compelled to spend money on an application if you don’t see anything wrong with a free option like Kindle or Aldiko.

In conclusion

If you aren’t familiar with Dropbox or cloud storage in general you may be looking at this tutorial and thinking ‘there is no way I am going to do that everytime’ but the work is already done. From now on all you have to do is copy your PDF file into the Dropbox folder of your choice, wait for it to show up in the Dropbox app on your Android device, tap the file and enjoy. In a nutshell, you do Step 3 and Step 5. That’s it. Easy-peasy. You got this.

Optional Final Step

If this helped you, please consider making a donation for my efforts in bringing you this tutorial. In total, I spent just shy of an hour in writing, image generation and editing.

If not PayPal, I sure wouldn’t hate a Kindle Gift Card. If you’d rather gift a book so that I don’t use that gift card on coffee or electronics, here is a link to my Amazon Gift Registry. Ignore the big ticket items, this is also where I keep my Christmas/Birthday wishlist. =)