Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hallelujah! You can now delete books from your Amazon account!

How great is that!

This ability has been rolled out quietly and to no fanfare despite the fact that not being able to do so is an issue which has engendered much anger and comments on this blog, in lists and on the Amazon forum.

There are lots of reasons to permanently delete books. Let me name a few:

You took advantage of a free book offer. The book was terrible.

You would like to share your Kindle account with your teenager or your grandmother and there are books in your account which might prove embarrassing or inappropriate.

You have read the book and will never read it again, nor will anyone in your family. Let it go.

The physical books I hang onto are those which, for whatever reason, I may refer to again—arts and crafts, computer manuals, poetry, spirituality, self-improvement, history, etc. This would include very little in the way of fiction. As one who reads well over 100 books a year, to keep everything I read, I would need to have a very big house and more bookshelves than I already do. And dusting them can become daunting. I don't have to dust the virtual books, but keeping titles I will never read again makes for a long and more confusing list to scroll through.

How to delete books permanently from your Kindle account:

Go to Amazon, click on My Account, sign in and scroll down to Manage Your Kindle. Toward the bottom of the page you will find a section called Your Orders. By default these will be listed chronologically with the latest order first. To change that to the earliest order first, click on the arrow under Order Date. Or you can sort them by title or author alphabetically with a few caveats: (1) It sorts by the author's first name (2) When sorting by title, it uses a, an, the as part of the title. Thus you will find The Blind Side with the Ts, not with the Bs. Nevertheless, you will be able to locate what you want to delete, one way or another.

Find the book you wish to delete and click on the plus sign before the title. This brings up a box with some options, one of which is Delete this Title. If you click that, it warns you that the deletion is permanent and should you want the book back, you will have to buy it again. If you still want to delete it, click OK. It takes a moment for the site to digest this and then you are back where you started with your latest purchase listed first. If you have a lot of books to delete this can become tedious, but liberating if this is something you have been wanting to do. For me it was.

While trying to delete books from their Kindle accounts, some have encountered problems which appear to be browser related. If you run into a problem, refresh your browser, or better yet, try Firefox. Many have said everything works fine for them with Firefox whereas it did not with Internet Explorer. Not a problem for me because I have a Mac.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Libraries and digital lending

The New York Times article, Libraries and Readers Wade into Digital Lending shows that libraries, at least some of them, are aware of their readers' changing needs. This is not true of all libraries, however, and many, perhaps most, have no e-book downloads available at all. Like everything else, libraries have to allocate their limited resources as best they can. If downloads are available, on what devices may they be read?

I live in a Chicago suburb whose library has no electronic books available for download, although it has many other outstanding resources, such as NewsBank which gives us archived editions of both Chicago newspapers as well as Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report and other magazines, including the current issues. A nearby library in another suburb has an unimpressive number of downloadable audiobooks available via Overdrive but no electronic books. As far as I know, Overdrive e-books, wherever they are available, are only downloadable to Sony e-readers leaving the rest of us out in the cold. Hardly an incentive to go out and buy a Sony, though, with only a few scattered books around. Anyone planning to buy a Sony thinking that they can download books from their library had best check first. Do you really want to read a book on your computer's backlit screen?

Monday, August 24, 2009

South of Broad

A train wreck of a book. Following all the excitement that after 14 years there would be a new novel by Pat Conroy, it has turned into a big disappointment. The book sits this week at #1 on the NY Times bestseller list. Of course it does: we all rushed out to buy it in one form or another, hardcover or digital. At least I only wasted $9.99 buying it for the Kindle instead of hard cover.

I did not really enjoy this book but wanted to give it a chance, so read it through to the end. Not something I normally do with one as off-putting as this. Pat Conroy has written better. His characters, for the most part, are cliches and have no depth. He strains credulity when his teenage protagonist meets in one day the 7 people who will turn out to be his best friends for life. Everything about it seems contrived. He jumps from 1969 to 1989 and we never find out much of what happened in between or why all of these disparate people are even friends. Why do they adore each other so much? Their conversations are pseudo-brilliant repartee, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The only characters nicely filled out are the protagonist himself, his father and Harrington Canon, the antique dealer. Why are the others so flat?

Some examples of his florid prose:

"It is the drawing that freezes my cells in all the dread of memory and history, in the secret mythology that forms the grotesque substrata that lies at the center of this search that has just turned deadly."

"His words soothe me and I taste their sweetness as they flow over me like the mountain laurel honey the wild bees make in the mountains where Starla was born."

"Nor do I have any idea when she started loving me, but the knowledge that her love is available in a boundless source had presented itself to me. I can use it as a sword on a pillow or a hermitage; a warm bath, a butterfly garden, or a flow of molten lava."

Did no one edit this book? Am I the only one who thinks it is way overblown?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reply to Nicholson Baker

In Nicholson Baker's A New Page, published in the August 3rd New Yorker, he asks, "Can the Kindle really improve on the book?" When I first read this, I was annoyed at how snarky it was but let it go. As more and more people quoted him, I decided to respond.

Is he really serious in some of his comments or is he trying to be cute? As a case in point, he says: "the wasp passage in “Do Insects Think?” just wasn’t the same in Kindle gray. I did an experiment. I found the Common Reader reprint edition of “Love Conquers All” and read the very same wasp passage. I laughed: ha-ha. Then I went back to the Kindle 2 and read the wasp passage again. No laugh. Of course, by then I’d read the passage three times, and it wasn’t that funny anymore. But the point is that it wasn’t funny the first time I came to it, when it was enscreened on the Kindle. Monotype Caecilia was grim and Calvinist; it had a way of reducing everything to arbitrary heaps of words."

Oh, please. I have had a Kindle (1 and then 2) since January of 2008 and have never had this experience. I fail to understand how the font used by the Kindle sucks the humor out of a passage. On the contrary, I have had to stop reading certain things in public on my Kindle lest I make a fool of myself laughing out loud.

I will agree that for me the text-to-speech is less than perfect. But it's not all about me, is it? There are those who need text to speech because of low vision or the inability to process words well, and I am happy that it is available for them. No one ever said that it was the equivalent of listening to Lisette Lecat read Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana novels. That is about as good as it gets. Even so, it's better to have text-to-speech than not. I applaud Amazon for including it, even though it has been crippled by publishers who think it robs them of income.

Mr. Baker's rant is overly long; he uses a lot of space to tell us about opening the box the Kindle came in. At that point we are no further along learning about the device itself. He also wastes a couple of paragraphs mentioning several books which are not on the Kindle. This hasn't been a deal-breaker for me. I've already read most of the books he mentions way before the Kindle, and if I want to read the rest, and other unavailable books, there's always the public library.

He writes: "But say you’ve actually found the book you’re seeking at the Kindle Store. You buy it. Do you get what’s described in the catalogue copy? Yes and no. You get the words, yes, and sometimes pictures, after a fashion. Photographs, charts, diagrams, foreign characters, and tables don’t fare so well on the little gray screen. Page numbers are gone, so indexes sometimes don’t work. Trailing endnotes are difficult to manage. If you want to quote from a book you’ve bought, you have to quote by location range"

If a book is formatted properly for Kindle, endnotes, indexes and tables of contents have live links and work just fine. However, many are not properly formatted and Amazon needs to address this. He rambles on for many paragraphs telling us about books which are inappropriate for a Kindle, i.e., those with color illustrations, charts and lots of photographs. It would never even occur to me to buy these for my Kindle. The only cookbook I have on it is the charming Cook's Illustrated How-to-Cook Library. First of all, it uses black and white drawings which work quite well. Second, it is well-formatted with live links from the index, chapter headings, and within each chapter to the individual recipes.

He says: "The company uses an encoding format called Topaz." That is patently not true. The Topaz formatted books are few and far between. I have 152 books either on my Kindle or in the archives and only one of those is in the Topaz format. For the most part, Topaz has not been popular amongst us Kindlers.

"A copy of a Kindle book dies with its possessor." Not if you are sharing an account and quickly switch Amazon payments to a credit card belonging to the survivor. Otherwise yes, it does. I am not sure that my survivors would be thrilled to inherit more physical books than I already have, so it's a non-issue to me except for the other Kindler on my account, and we have this covered.

"Undeterred, the folks at Amazon gave the Kindle 1 a hose blast of marketing late in 2007. And they had a lucky break. Oprah, who had been slipped a pre-launch Kindle, announced that she was obsessed with it." Ah, Mr. Baker, another factual error: Oprah trumpeted her devotion to the Kindle in October of 2008. I know this, because I was able to grab one then, using her promotion of $50 off to give my daughter for her birthday just before Amazon sold out and Kindles became unavailable for several months.

He mentions the one-star reviews during 2008 which must have been painful for Amazon. Probably not, because a large majority of them were written by people who did not own a Kindle, those who "love the smell of books," or had other reasons for not wanting one. Not wanting something does not make you an expert unless you have used the item for some time. I don't want a set of golf clubs but it hasn't occurred to me to leave a poor review of golf clubs on some website.

In touting the iPod Touch or iPhone as a better reading device than the Kindle, he says: "It serves a night-reading need, which the lightless Kindle doesn’t." And how about his paean to the paper version of the New York Times? Can he read that in the dark? And how long can you read on a back lighted screen without eye strain?

Only in the last page of his review does Mr. Baker approach the nexus of what the Kindle actually does—the book disappears and it is only the language and the thought propelling you forward. Isn't that enough?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heroic Measures

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment gives us 48 hours in the lives of an elderly couple and their dog. Dorothy, the dachshund, suffers paralysis of the hind quarters the night before Alex and Ruth Cohen are about to have an open house in order to sell their East Village 5th floor walkup apartment which they have owned for almost 50 years. They hope, with the proceeds of the sale, to be able to afford an apartment in an elevator building. Complicating their trip to the dog hospital with Dorothy is a city in panic over first, the jackknifed gasoline tanker truck in the tunnel, and then the fear that the escaped driver may be a terrorist. All of this plays out as they leave Dorothy for surgery, show their own apartment and look at a couple of others and even meet friends for dinner. The tension created by the potential terrorist colors everything. There is gentle humor in much of this, especially in the media's feeding frenzy. The story switches perspectives often from Ruth to Alex to Dorothy and gives an insight into each personality. A truly lovely book.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Isabella Bird, World Traveler of the 19th Century

For an overview of Isabella Bird, see the entertaining Wikipedia article. Her writings were either in the form of letters to her loved ones back home or written in full from copious notes taken on her travels. These books are now in the public domain and have been lovingly preserved by the Gutenberg Project. My preference for public domain is, an elegant and easy to use site. I downloaded several of her books for my Kindle and then realized that two of these were also available in free audio in the same place via a zipped archive for each book. They are very competently read by Laura Caldwell and were easy to add to my iTunes library. They should be equally easy to add to your Kindle for listening if you like audio on the large device. In my opinion, smaller is better, and the iPod or iPhone is my preferred way of listening. The books are:

Among the Tibetans

The Englishwoman in America (also in audio)

The Golden Chersonese and The Way Thither

The Hawaiian Archipelago - Six Months Among the Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (also in audio)

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do you like The Tudors?

Not necessarily the Tudors themselves, since they are not really a loveable family, but rather the Showtime series? If so, you will really love Philippa Gregory's books: The Constant Princess (Catherine of Aragon), The Other Boleyn Girl (Mary and Ann Boleyn), and The Boleyn Inheritance (Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard). In this last one, Jane Boleyn, the evil sister-in-law of Mary and Ann, takes turns narrating, along with Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Google and e-books

Google plans to sell e-book titles, allowing publishers to set their own prices. It reserves the right to discount these prices. You would have access to the title in perpetuity. Sounds good so far. But the kicker is: the books we buy would only be available to us on our computers, iPhones, Blackberries, not on a device untethered to the internet such as a Kindle or other e-reader.

You could temporarily cache the titles bought from Google in your browser. Wonderful. Like I want to sit in front of my computer all day reading a book. How is this progress? Why would I want to do this?

Will the publishers cut loose from Amazon to do this? If so, they are shooting themselves in the foot. With e-readers evolving, this is going backwards.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't do this with your Kindle!

One thing that you can not (or should not) do with a Kindle is to hurl it across the room in a fit of pique over a very bad book that you are reading. This was brought to mind today in reading the reviews of the movie, Angels and Demons, because a friend of mine literally did this with the book. The only one of Dan Brown's that I have read is The DaVinci Code which I thought was poorly executed and poorly written and I almost hurled that one. In order to be good, a plot does need to make sense and his do not. I can handle a little straining of credulity but not this much; his writing is so full of cliches that I want to gag. I realize that in writing this, I will offend Dan Brown fans and for that I am sorry. Being a best-selling author does not mean you are a good writer.

If you want some good laughs, go and read Roger Ebert's highly amusing review of the movie, Angels and Demons.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fantastic Fiction

The title is misleading, as this is not a review of specific books. Fantastic Fiction is a website in the UK and possibly the best I have found for short information on a lot of books all in one place. One of the really neat things it does when you click on an author is to give you a chronological listing of his/her works. This is something many of us have struggled with over the years, using our library system's database and sorting by newest or oldest, but here it is, nice and easy.

First, there is a brief bio folowed by New and Forthcoming Hardbacks along with their Amazon prices both in the US and UK. Next, a list of series books in order with the year of publication, followed by information on non-series writings by that author. If he/she writes under two names, the bio mentions this and gives us a link to those books. A good case in point is Ruth Rendell, who writes the Chief Inspector Wexford series as well as a ton of other books as Rendell. The next Wexford book is due out in October, 2009. She also writes as Barbara Vine and her latest, published in the US, is The Birthday Present. If you don't already know, Barbara Vine books display Ruth Rendell's wild side. Wexford, on the other hand, is quite tame, but fun to read. The very latest Barbara Vine has been published in the UK but not yet in the US.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Conversion costs—much ado about nothing?

Why are people so upset with Amazon's announcing it will charge by the megabyte for user-generated files pushed to the Kindle? Those of us who have had a Kindle since its onset in November of 2007 have long known that Amazon always reserved the right to charge, and up until now they have not. Yes, they have increased the price that they might have charged, but you can still send files to yourself for free using the method where Amazon e-mails you the file and then you drop it onto your Kindle via USB. One suspects that sending those files direct to your Kindle was using more bandwidth than Sprint had intended providing for Whispernet.

To send a file for conversion (fee to be charged after May 4):

Go to your account on Amazon, sign in and click on Manage Your Kindle. Right at the top of the page, you will see a list of your Kindles and devices. For each Kindle, there is an e-mail address attached. This would have been assigned by Amazon and can be changed to something unique to you, such as

Your Kindle's e-mail address is an inbound-only destination that allows you to receive e-mail attachments from contacts on your Kindle approved e-mail list. Scroll down to see this. As a default it will contain the address Amazon uses to contact you, but you may add other addresses from which attachments may be sent. An attachment sent to our hypothetical address of will be converted and delivered wirelessly to your Kindle. Free as of this moment but about to become 15¢ per megabyte rounded up to the closest megabyte.

If you are not in a wireless area or would like to avoid the fee, you can send attachments to to be converted and e-mailed back to you. You can then transfer the document to your Kindle using the USB connection. Connect the Kindle, and click on it to see its folders. Drop the file into the Documents folder. Eject the Kindle and detach it from the USB port.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Little Dorrit

One of the current Books of the Week on is Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. It is a great read inspired while watching the PBS Masterpiece Classics presentation of the book. Dickens' father was in The Marshalsea, a debtors' prison, and thus his son had first hand knowledge of it and made it a prime locus in Little Dorrit. The prison was like a little village and a whole world unto itself which we learn about in detail. But there is lots of life, love and story outside the prison, too. We have heroes, heroines and ordinary people, as well as a detestable villain. There is a bureaucracy in love with itself which is called the Circumlocution Office because nothing ever gets done there. And financial chicanery ala Bernie Madoff. I highly recommend Little Dorrit but warn you that it is a long one, 940 pages in print.

Next on Masterpiece Classics is Old Curiosity Shop, also by Charles Dickens, and you might wish to get a head start on it by downloading it from manybooks where you will find lots of good free reads in the public domain. Those with Kindles should select Amazon format (.azw) in the dropdown box.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kindle Schizophrenia

Has owning a Kindle caused your reading to become fragmented? I watch like a hawk for free books or "book deals" in which you get two for the price of one. Most free books are rejected as not my preferred reading but there are enough of them which interest me to add to my problem. The other day there was a two-fer deal, so I got a sample of one of the books, liked it, and bought the one which allowed me to have the other free. Of course, having started the sample, I was tempted to continue reading the book, but currently am partway through The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the worst Buddhist in the world by Mary Pipher, Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And that is not all. Those are the major ones and I adore all of them, so it is not lack of interest which keeps them unfinished, more like too much interest. But there is a lack of time. In addition, I have Kindle subscriptions to the Chicago Tribune, Slate, Newsweek and Gizmodo, so am juggling those along with the books. Oh, and I have Jane Haddam's latest, Living Witness, checked out of the library. In addition, I have a life, sort of. Help!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No, I am not selling Kindle jackets

In response to a couple of inquiries, no, I am not making Kindle jackets to sell. If I were, I wouldn't have published directions on how to make them. Right now, it is fun to make one occasionally. If I made it a business, it wouldn't be fun any more. They are easy to make. Give it a try. If you don't know how to sew, surely you have a friend who does.

How to make a pretty jacket for the Amazon cover

Jackets can be made for the Amazon cover either with or without batting inside. The first one (post of March 14th) was done with batting only for the part covering the outside, not the flaps that are inside. The reason for this limitation is not to make it bulkier on the inside. The simplest way to make the jacket is to skip the batting, as it only makes it more complicated and now having done one without batting, it works just as well.

Cut 2 pieces of a fabric you love, 9-1/2" x 18," one for the outside which shows, and one for the lining. Or if you do not have enough for two pieces, cut the lining from a coordinating fabric.

Place these two pieces right sides together and sew a 1/4" seam around the edge.

Do not sew all the way around; leave an opening you can get your hand inside to turn right side out.

When you turn it right side out, use something blunt like a chopstick to push out the corners to be as close as possible to square; don't use scissors because they are sharp enough to make a hole and then you will have to start over.

When the jacket is right side out, press it and hand sew the opening you left, or machine sew close to the edge.

Wrap the jacket to the inside of the cover, front and back. Hand or machine sew the top and bottom edges so that the folded over part makes a little pocket to slip the cover into.

If the Kindle is already in the cover, it works best to slip the jacket on the back part of the cover first and then the front. The finished jacket is below.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Update on making your own cover

Since my post of February 27th, The difficulties in making your own Kindle cover, others have tried their hand at making covers for the K2. Two interesting ones use the Amazon cover as a base in order to make use of the hinge mechanism. One of these totally destroys the Amazon cover to remove the hinge and use it, and the other leaves it in place and glues new material over it. These may be found here and here. I wonder if there is a source for buying just the hinge.

Also, there is an interesting comment following my February 27th post. This one does not use the Amazon hinge.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The K2 Amazon cover with a new jacket

I had hoped to have my green leather M-edge executive jacket for the K2 before St Patrick's Day but it doesn't look as if that will be the case. So in the meantime, I made a quilted book jacket to fit on the Amazon cover. As you can see, that really dresses it up. I like the Amazon cover a lot for its functionality and am keeping it for dress-up occasions and probably will make various holiday and seasonal related jackets for it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Permanently delete books? Amazon says no

Something that Amazon needs to address is the current inability to permanently delete something from the archived items or from content manager, depending on which Kindle you own. There are many reasons for someone wishing to do this.

Countless times I have read on various Kindle forums of people who wish to buy their adolescent child a Kindle and share the account, but are leery of doing this because some of their past purchases have been too racy for children that age. They want to be able to get rid of the books permanently.

It is not the only reason. If you have been at this for any length of time, you have accumulated a lot of books in the archive. Many of these you will never read again and maybe didn't even especially enjoy the first time around. We can't always make good choices.

And sometimes we latch onto free books just because they are free, and they didn't work out for us.

Currently, if an author decides to revise his or her book under the same ASIN number, so that previous buyers will receive the revision at no cost, the revision is not available for anyone who has annotated or bookmarked his copy. This is because of a glitch in Amazon's software. The only thing which will make the new edition available to previous buyers is to issue it under a new ASIN number. Go to the Kindle store and type in David Emberson in the search box. You will see three books, the first of which is The Kindle 2 Cookbook: How To Do Everything the Manual Doesn't Tell You by David Emberson (Kindle Edition - Feb 27, 2009). The third of these is The Kindle 2 Cookbook: How To Do Everything the Manual Doesn't Tell You (Alternate ASIN) by David Emberson (Kindle Edition - Feb 27, 2009). Sandwiched in between is the book for the K1 reissued. David had to do this alternate ASIN thing so that those of us who purchased and annotated the first book would be allowed to buy the 2nd edition. It was the only way.

Why can't Amazon devise a method of allowing us to permanently take books off of our virtual bookshelves? They shouldn't make it too easy or something you could do accidentally. Obviously it should be done from your Amazon account as opposed to doing it from the Kindle itself. I wouldn't even care if it came with a popup box asking if we were sure, and another warning you that you will never see this again. Make it as obnoxious as you want, Amazon, but please let us do it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I once was lost but now am found...

There is a great story on cnet news entitled E-books lost on Kindle, found on iPod Touch.

The author lost her Kindle last year and hasn't yet replaced it. But all of her books are now readable on her iPod Touch as of March 4th. Check out her story.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Syncing with your iPhone or iPod Touch

This morning I awoke to stories in the New York Times, Gizmodo and other publications about the release of the application for the iPhone and Touch so that digital books may be purchased from Amazon for these devices. The app is just called Kindle and may be found in the iTunes store. After downloading and opening the app, it asked for the e-mail address used with Amazon and for my Amazon password. After entering these, it listed all of the books I have purchased for my Kindle, alphbetically by title. I selected one which I have been reading, and it downloaded it to the Touch and opened the book at the page where I had stopped reading on the Kindle. You need to have Whispernet turned on for it to do this. You advance from page to page on the Touch or iPhone by swiping sideways. Later, I opened the book on the Kindle and a box popped up telling me my present location and asking if I wanted to sync to the farthest location read. If so, you just click the 5-way. This is quite ingenious on the part of Amazon, even though I expect to do very little reading on the small screen. The Kindle is easy on my eyes and a backlit screen is not. However, now we shall see how all the people feel who said they really didn't need a Kindle—they could read just fine on their iPhone. Maybe so, but not for long periods of time. Anyway, they will now have lots more e-books available for purchase.

Under Manage your Kindle on Amazon, my Touch is now listed and Amazon knows its serial number. It would be a good idea to deregister if you lose your device, just as you can deregister your Kindle.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pages side by side on the K1 and K2

Absolutely fascinating: using the same font size, (#4 in this case) there is more text per page on the K2 than on the K1. The lines are the same length on each, but closer together. This was from testing a page on each of them side by side in the same book at the beginning of a chapter. The end result of this is reading faster, which I thought I was, but this explains why—less page turns, and the page turns on the K2 are faster.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Advice for brand new Kindle owners

Read the manual. I know you don't want to do that but if you just give in and read it, you'll find all sorts of things that you didn't know the device could do. It's a pretty good manual and covers just about everything. I like reading manuals and computer books because there is always so much in a program that is hidden and features that you didn't even know were there. The new ability to zoom means that the illustrations are clear as a bell to read. The manual is already on your Kindle, but if you go to Kindle support on Amazon's site, you can download the .pdf file of the user's manual onto your computer and read along on that as you try out different things:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick update on Personal Documents

When I was talking to Kindle customer service this afternoon about another matter, I asked about why the Personal Documents don't separate out the way they should (see earlier post today). The tech rep said that they are aware of the problem and are "working on it." Since I generally show all of my items sorting by most recent first, it is not a personal issue for me, but it is for many, so perhaps there is hope.

Personal documents on the K2

On the K2 if you go up to the top line of the Home screen. and push the 5-way to the left, it gives the choice of Personal Docs, Subscriptions, Books, All my Items.

So far, the only personal items I had put on the K2 were a couple of text files which I had dragged over from my Mac. These were appearing in with the books. However, I then plugged in my K1 to the USB port and dragged into a folder on my computer some files which had previously been sent to Amazon and returned to my K1 via whispernet. Then I ejected the K1, plugged in the K2 and dragged these files into its document folder. After I ejected it, these files all appear in my Personal Docs if I choose to have the K2 sort that way. These are all files which show the "author" as my e-mail address. I thought that was the clue, only recognizing personal documents which are tagged with your e-mail address.

However, it turns out that documents e-mailed to Amazon for conversion to be sent back to the K2 just land in your Books, not in Personal Docs. Thus there is a flaw somewhere. Does anyone have a solution? Please comment if you do.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The difficulties in making your own Kindle cover

Ever since the Kindle 1, I have been obsessed with the idea of making my own cover for it from scratch. But my K1 already had two covers, the one it came with and a lovely red leather M-Edge. So I drifted along. But here came K2 naked as a jaybird and the M-Edge cover I wanted not yet available. I ordered a purple M-Edge, the platform type, so that it will turn into its own reading stand. Also, I did make it a quilted slipcase which is a no-brainer for a quilter who has made all sorts of bags and purses. (See photo in my first February post.) But an actual cover that secures the Kindle is a totally different challenge and I was finally ready to take it on.

Not having a bookmaking supply store close by, I went to Michaels and bought a type of illustration board which seems sturdy enough, and I already had an exacto knife. Being a quilter means that I have lots of cutting mats, batting and fabric. The hardest physical challenge was cutting the illustration board, identical front and back pieces. You need to score it over and over and over till it finally breaks free.

I laid down the fabric for the outside, covering it with thin batting, then placed the front and back pieces appropriately with room for the spine between, and laid another piece of batting on it. Then I pulled the free edges of the outside around to the inside and glued them. My plan had been when the glue was dry to baste and then hand sew fabric to the inside.

I can figure out the book part of it just fine. Where I fall down—splat!—is in a method of securing the Kindle to the cover. We are not talking about a lightweight thing here; it is very thin but sturdy, weighs 10.2 ounces and needs to be firmly secured. Really, you are better off having it naked than to put it in something you are relying on to hold it and then having it escape. The little corner things which are on M-Edge covers would not be that difficult to do, but how secure would they be attached just to fabric? M-Edge is attaching leather to leather. It is not possible to sew to the book boards themselves. I don't think there is a solution involving fabric. There are all kinds of cases I could make for it, and did make the slipcase. But a cover which holds it? I give up.

While waiting for the M-Edge, K2 has been developing cabin fever so it was obvious I needed an interim cover and the fastest way to get one of those was to order Amazon's which is now on its way. At least it will be secure, and I can always sell it later if I wish.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are you missing the Articles List?

If you subscribe to newspapers or magazines, you know what the Articles List is. For two days after getting the K2, I thought, wrongly, that now there was only a sections list and aside from that, you had to flip through each article in the periodical. No, the Articles List is there but hiding. Go to the Sections List and note that there are numbers next to each one of the sections. Click on the number, and voila, the Articles List for that section. A big sigh of relief.

Random information regarding the K2

At the top of the screen when you press Menu, the amount of free space and the time are displayed. Obviously it knows where I live.

Synchronization between Kindles will only work with content purchased from Amazon, not public domain books you have put on your Kindle.

The text-to-speech feature is not at all bad for occasional listening. You can read along with it and the page turns automatically along with the voice. What I have learned from reading along with its text-to-speech feature, is that the reading is at its most understandable if punctuated properly. When it is reading headings with no punctuation, it just races right into the next line of text. However, it would still be great for continuing to listen to something for a brief while when you needed your eyes to be elsewhere. Not a substitute for a regular audio book, though, I assure you. It defaults to the male voice, but since I am currently reading Silent in the Grave (Deanna Raybourn) written as if a woman were telling the story, I switched to the female voice. This seemed only logical.

Most of the button pushes are toggles. In other words, if you press Menu and want to get out of it, press Menu again.

People complained that the K1 buttons were too easy to press. Of course, this was because they ran along both sides, leaving little space where you could handle it safely without inadvertent page turns. Now some are saying that the new, smaller page turn buttons are hard to press. Not really. They need to be pressed on the side closest to the screen rather than the outside edge. Apparently this is a further attempt to prevent doing it accidentally. But trust me; the buttons work easily. With my hand problems, I would feel right away if something were more difficult.

If you want to read a description of one of your purchased books, when its title is underlined, move the 5-way to the right and it brings up a menu which includes Book Description. Selecting that will bring to you to the Kindle store and the description. Don't press that Buy button again!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Charging your Kindle

The K2 plug on the top and the K1 on the bottom. An amazing difference in size/weight. Note the usb connector going into the K2 plug. You can also charge the K2 via usb plugged into your computer. However, it will be a slower charge and hog one of your ports. I see no need unless you are desperate for wall plugs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comparison of Kindle 1 and Kindle 2

Today the Kindle 2 arrived a day earlier than Amazon had promised. Congratulations, Amazon—what an Apple-like thing to do! Also Apple-like is the sleek, thin body of the K2. The design difference between it and the K1 is amazing considering they are only a little more than a year apart. Gone is the bizarre scroll wheel, replaced by what Amazon calls a 5-way, really a tiny joystick. In the picture below, the K2 is on the left and the K1 on the right. It is hard to photograph them so that the difference in thickness comes through clearly and this and the next picture were the best I could do. The K2 is named Earl after a dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. He loved to read and would have wanted a Kindle had they existed at the time. He was kind of technophobic but this would have been a winner for him.

In the picture below, the K2 appears to be shorter than the K1 whereas the opposite is true. The K2 is a half inch longer than the K1 but the same width. However, this is a better picture for showing the thickness difference.

For a long time, I have wanted to try my hand at making a Kindle cover, but didn't want to tackle one for the K2 until I had it in my hand. I have a red M-edge cover for the K1 and like it very much so if I'm not happy with what I make, that's where I will go. Am thinking of the one that stands up and forms its own stand for reading at the table which is something I do all the time. M-edge has a purple leather version. Yummy! However, I wanted protection for it until I either made a cover or bought one so using the measurements which are in the specs at the end of the K2 manual (downloaded and read ahead of time), I made a slipcase to protect it. See below.