Something to spark your reading interests

I noticed that Amazon is pushing now their Kindle reader at a lower price with the tradeoff that they can push ads and sponsored screensavers to your device.

You can pre-order Kindle with Special Offers (read = ads) for $114 today.  Kindle for #139 and Kindle 3G for $189 (includes free 3G wireless) also continue to be available, without special offers and sponsored screensavers (read – ads).  There is also the bigger Kindle for $379.

In my opinion, I would rather spend just a little more and get the version that doesn’t have any ads.  However, you might not mind them and might want to save a few bucks.  It is nice to have the option.

I didn’t think I would take to this method of reading books, but I have.  I wouldn’t want to use a Kindle for everything.  I tend to write in my books. I read pen in hand.  You can add notes to Kindle pages, however.  It is clunky, but it can be done.  You can highlight and bookmark passages.  You can see what other people who read the book highlighted as interesting to them.

My main uses of the Kindle are a) when I am traveling and b) when I want to read something which I don’t need or want to retain on my bookshelf.   I use the public library as much as possible.  I use the Kindle: the Kindle version of many books I don’t want to retain on my shelf is lower than a store bought or Amazon bought book.  You can also download daily newspapers and magazines.  However, the catch is that you have to have the actual Kindle device: you can’t get subscriptions if you have only the free apps.

If you are not using your wi-fi or 3G and switch them off the Kindle holds a standby charge for a very long time.

You can use Kindle to read this blog, btw.

I have the 3G version.  I can connect it to my wi-fi at home or any phone network, without an additional cost, when I am out and around.

The Kindle will automatically sync your purchased books between the Kindle app on your iPhone and iPad.   I also use the Kindle app on the iPad… the advantage is that you can read the iPad in the dark: the Kindle does not have a back lit screen.  You can read the Kindle easily in sunlight, but not the iPad.

I imagine many readers of WDTPRS have experience with other devices.  It would be interesting to hear about them and how they are being used.

I don’t think a Kindle would be everyone’s cup of Mystic Monk Tea, but it has been – in my book at least – a great tool.  I am grateful to the kind reader who sent it to me from my wish list.  I use it often.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jon says:

    “I tend to write in my books.”

    AAAKKKK!!! You’re one of THEM!

    There’s only one place I write in my books, just inside the front cover, with my name and the date acquired. My boys come into my office, pull a tome from the shelf, and the ritual goes like this:

    “Open it.”

    They open it.

    “Read me the date.”

    “April 12, 1981.”

    “How old is that?”

    “Thirty years.”

    “Does it look thirty years old?”


    “Check – is there a mark in it?”


    “That’s right. I took it to college, read it in bars, in rainy tents, cars, and in my bed. Now it’s yours, treat it like I did, and it’s goes back on the shelf in the same condition. Got it?”


    “Oh, and one more thing. No one name Zuhlsdorf EVER touches it!” ;^)

  2. Will D. says:

    I received a Kindle for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had to recharge it once, despite reading every day with it. The battery life is truly remarkable. My only complaint about the thing is that my public library’s e-book offerings are not supported by the Kindle. I read 4 or 5 library books for each book I buy, and I’d be just as happy to borrow/rent a digital book instead of having to buy something I’m unlikely to read a second time.

  3. Banjo pickin girl says:

    The Kindle solves the perennial problem of Bibles with margins that are too small for our notes and cross-references. I got several Bibles and love them all. The Ignatius Bible though, surprisingly, has a formatting problem with the fonts in the Psalms. The new Kindle does Greek and Cyrillic so I have the interlinear Greek NT and the Holy Synod Bible with those charming 1800’s style pictures.

    The 99 cent Summa Theologica with active index is so nerdy cool I am beside myself.

    But there are books I have to have in hardcopy. Such as the Imitation of Christ and any book where you have to flip back and forth between pages.

    And of course I never take a book down from the shelf and discover the pages are all blank. Recently I lost my “collections” on the Kindle which is like having an earthquake put all your books on the floor in a heap.

  4. labianchi says:

    I use the Barnes & Noble Nook. I inherited mine from my wife, but would have chosen it even if it was not available. I used a previous e-reader called a cooler. The best way to describe the cooler is stone-age-device compared to the Nook and the Kindle. It really was a dog of a device. It was slow and had a clunky interface and froze quite frequently. To my best knowledge, the Cooler did not survive once the Nook and Kindle prices plummeted and their web site and bookstore are no longer reachable on the net. Mine broke just short of a year of use, it was quite a poorly produced unit.

    I admit, not everything seems suitable on the Nook, but I read more now than I did before (as far as books go). I have been reading e-books for over 10 years. I started doing it on my Palm Pilot (imagine on that tiny screen) and got hooked. The only reason I personally would not get a Kindle was that I already had a sizable library of books that were in epub format, a format that the Kindle does not read. I played around with the Kindle belonging to one of my friends and thought it also was a great unit.

    Father Z brings up using an iPad & the Kindle. Even if I had a tablet device, I would still use the e-reader device more for reading. I love the e-reader concept and look forward to their advancement, especially in the way of textbooks and technical publications. The slim, portable aspect of the readers make it convenient to carry quite a few books around with you at all times. That is a benefit I take full advantage of, being a full time tech worker needing several references, and an evening student. I only wish more textbooks were available for e-readers.

  5. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    My wife really wants us to get a Kindle for our soph/jr high school daughter, who has difficulties reading, which means she reads very slowly, which in turn makes her not want to read. A doctor who explained some of her learning problems told us she could increase her understanding by listening to printed matter while reading it. Can any of the commenters tell me what the “read aloud” voice on the Kindle sounds like? Is it hopefully better than the “View/Read Out Loud” voice in Adobe Acrobat? I know it’s a computer-generated voice not a real person reading but I’m hoping the Kindle voice sounds better than the Acrobat voice.
    Any comments, please?


  6. SimonR says:

    I spend a fortune printing out the Holy Father’s Addresses, homilies etc.

    Would it be worthy buying a Kindle to read them on this?
    Could I create PDF documents of the addresses, homilies etc and then transfer them to the Kindle to read?

    Or should I just buy an Ipad for this purpose and use WiFi to read the documents online at the vatican website for example.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    I saw a Kindle in use by a TLM schola Sunday. Haven’t yet seen one in a Novus Ordo choir. Perhaps the Novus Ordo folks are not so open to change and progress.

    I use my own Kindle only (and always) for the English when I pray the LOH using the Latin-only Liturgia Horarum. For most Bible chapters the Douay-Rheims provides the English translation in most slavishly literal correspondence with the Church’s official Latin–the New Vulgate–though for some the RSV is better.

    So my Kindle has only two volumes downloaded, the RSV-CE 2e and the Kindle Catholic Bible (D-R) which is verse searchable–just enter jn.3.16 to jump directly to that verse—so I can set up all the chapters and verses for a day’s hours and then step through them by pressing the “back” key to jump from one to the next.

    Which brings to mind the question as to whether there’s not (so far as I know) a lavish Latin-English edition of the divine office for the OF like the forthcoming Baronius edition for the EF. Hmm … Is it the English or the Latin that OF folks are presumed to be less interested in?

  8. Linz says:

    I’ll never stop reading print books but I love my Kindle. Their selection of free public domain books is pretty good. I love that I can instantly download classics for free. It’s already paid for itself; I would otherwise have bought countless books as I’m no longer in walking distance to a decent library.

    You can convert your epubs to mobi format using a program called Calibre. The formatting doesn’t come out quite as nice but it’s acceptable. I’ve used it to download and convert free GoogleBooks that aren’t available on Amazon.

  9. Banjo pickin girl says:

    John, the read aloud on the Kindle is adequate in a pinch for someone who is used to mechanical readers. It makes the usual errors of emphasis on words. It has both male and female voices and is adjustable as to speed.

  10. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Simon, you can transfer PDF files to the Kindle. It also has a rudimentary web browser which does fine with text such as the Universalis web site and I haven’t used it for documents but probably for that as well.

  11. bbmoe says:

    Simon R: I’m in the same boat with regard to PDFs. I thought I had found the holy grail (so to speak) with Kindle when I learned that you can read PDFs on it. Unfortunately, the viewer is so small that if you have a full size PDF (and who doesn’t,) you will only be able to see a portion of it at a time. You can downsize the PDF so that it all fits in the viewer, but then you can’t read it. In other words, it’s completely inadequate and frustrating as a PDF viewer.

    BTW, it took me days to discover this while researching eBook readers on the internet. Truth in advertising would mean that specifications for Kindle and others would include the phrase, “You can read PDFs, but you won’t like to.”

  12. Banjo pickin girl says:

    bbmoe, you are right of course. I haven’t used the Kindle for pdfs so I wasn’t thinking. Ditto for having to expand web pages. And everything is in 16 glorious shades of gray.

  13. RichardT says:

    What’s the availability of books like?

  14. Banjo pickin girl says:

    RichardT, I read mostly the free books, ones that are no longer in copyright. look up for the selection, it is in the tens of thousands. Jeff Bezos has stated that his goal is to have every book in every language for the Kindle.

  15. Will D. says:

    Can any of the commenters tell me what the “read aloud” voice on the Kindle sounds like?

    Eh, it’s adequate. The voice is pleasant enough, but reads with no comprehension or inflection. It pauses quite a long time on commas, but practically ignores periods so that sentences just run together in a very breathless sort of way. Here’s a Youtube video review to give you an idea what it sounds like.

  16. Ellen says:

    I love my Kindle. I read a lot of fiction and most of the time, that goes on the Kindle. For non-fiction, I still buy books. I’m a fast reader anyway, but on the Kindle I can zip through a book even faster.

  17. dcs says:

    Could I create PDF documents of the addresses, homilies etc and then transfer them to the Kindle to read?

    As a previous poster pointed out above, you would want to get Calibre (which is free) to convert HTML versions of the addresses, homilies, etc. to the MOBI/Kindle format. The reason you would do this rather than create PDFs is that PDFs are already formatted into pages, while MOBI-formatted documents are not — the page flow changes according to your font-size, spacing, etc. preferences.

  18. dcs says:

    Their selection of free public domain books is pretty good.

    Yes, and there are many other public domain books available on and in the MOBI/Kindle format. In fact you can even point your Kindle’s web browser to and download books directly to your Kindle from there (they will not synch with any other Kindle reading apps you might have — unlike the books you get from Amazon itself).

  19. NDPhys says:

    I have had my Kindle for a few months now, and I really like it. I have yet to purchase an ebook, but I keep it filled with all kinds of old books, spiritual classics and the like.

    It will never replace real (dead tree) books for me, but I like the convenience of being able to carry around so many texts in my pocket, and have them at the ready when and wherever I am. I carry it in my inside breast pocket in my jacket, next to my favorite prayer book. I never write in my books, but like that I can use the Kindle’s various annotation features. The “read to me” feature is extremely nice for long car trips; it takes a little getting used to, but it is more than tolerable. The web browser is also quite nice, and having a keyboard makes even sending and receiving email on the go (for free!) a breeze. This is the hidden gem of the Kindle, and almost makes it worth the price in itself. Think “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

    I have gotten in to converting various texts available online into good kindle books. There exists online a plethora of texts of spiritual classics, and I use the free software Calibre to make a Kindle book from them. The documents on the Vatican website are especially easy to convert, and the structure (parts, chapters, sections) are usually picked up nicely, making for a good and useful table of contents.

    Finally, the PDF rendering is at least acceptable. I wish it were faster and easier to navigate, but you can use bookmarks to help with that. I have hope that the firmware might improve this feature in another update. As an example of how the PDF rendering can be useful, I have a PDF of the Graduale Romanum, and can use it to practice from, if I don’t want to have to carry around the entire book all the time.

  20. Moles says:


    Would you be willing to share your Kindle reading list with us? I am always looking for good Catholic material to read/consume/learn from.

    I too use the Kindle app on my iPad since our Holy Father’s books are not yet available from Apple, plus its easier to read the Kindle while at the pool with the kids.

  21. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Banjo picking Girl and Will D , thanks for the information on the Kindle reading aloud. Especially thanks for the link to Youtube. I never thought of looking there. (My daughter sure would have though!) I listened to the sample, then created a PDF of the Doyle story and had Adobe read it to me. great comparison.

    The Kindle is much better. Sort of like the speech of the robots on the Red Eye show.

    Thanks again.

  22. Norah says:

    “Oh, and one more thing. No one name Zuhlsdorf EVER touches it!” ;^)


    I accepted Amazon’s offer of a free Kindle for my computer and I have bought a number of e-books. Although I much prefer real books the cost of postage to Australia makes the Kindle very attractive. I won’t buy a Kindle until a couple of features I am looking for become available e.g. a choice of highlighter colours, the ability to bold some text, a backlight to make reading in the dark possible. Kindle for computer doesn’t have the reader format and I would like that.

  23. dcs says:

    a backlight to make reading in the dark possible

    There are reading lights available — for example, I have a cover with a reading light that draws power from the Kindle’s battery. Personally, I think that is easier on the eyes than a backlit screen.

  24. dcs: Interesting. I haven’t seen that gadget. Good idea.

  25. APX says:

    I’ve contemplated getting some sort of Kindle-like piece of technology, and if I knew I could buy all my textbooks via Kindle, I wouldn’t hesitate. The problem I have is I do the majority of reading in places like hot tubs and what have you. Having put the odd cell phone through the wash, and dropping my iPod shuffle in the tub, and none of them surviving, I’m not sure I want to take the risk.

  26. AndyKl says:

    Father, why is your blog $2 and not $1. [It should probably be $5.]

    And yes, I’m THAT cheap. haha :P

    Also, Amazon sells the leather cover with a light that runs off the Kindle battery for something like $60 (the non-light is like $35).

  27. wmeyer says:

    My daughter gave me a Kindle for Christmas. Based on my own research, I would probably not have bought the Kindle, but might have opted for the Nook, or some other LCD device. I am glad she preempted my decision — the Kindle has become the device I take everywhere. I have over 450 books on it, and have purchased only about a dozen. I have the Ignatius Bible and the Ignatius Study Bible (NT), the Catechism, the Catechism of Trent, the Baltimore Catechism, the Duoay-Rheims Bible, the Vulgate, the Interlinear Vulgate, and many tens of pre-1923 books from I have Chesterton, Belloc, and Robert Hugh Benson. I have Jack London, Mark Twain, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

    I have a partially developed application of my own which makes it easy to strip the oddities of Gutenberg text formatting, replace _italicized_ with italicized, and finally convert to HTML, which gives me more control than if I use Word and let Amazon do the conversion.

    Kindle has been a revelation, and I have not missed the lack of a backlight at all.

  28. jaykay says:

    I have mine for about 7 months now. It was a present, otherwise I might never have bought it myself. However I straightaway brought it with me when doing a section of the Camino de Santiago last year as the combination of lightweight and space-saving plus the need to have something decent to read was too attractive to miss. I must say I found it very good and am a fairly frequent user now – mostly in my longish daily commuting. I rarely use it at home, for whatever reason, unless I’m in the middle of something engrossing that I started on the train and absolutely can’t put down.

    I have the cover with the built-in light, which is very good except that it tends to flicker or even click off entirely if you touch it, which can be a bit of a pain. I’ve also found that the proofing and layout in some books I’ve downloaded (and not even the “cheapo” ones at that!) can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. They really want to work on this aspect.

    Finally I find that it’s not good as a web browser as it’s difficult to navigate around the page but then it’s primarily a book-reader anyway and I have a perfectly adequate mobile browser on the phone. All-in-all I’m very happy with it but it won’t replace the dead trees for me.

  29. Emilio III says:

    Sorry for posting when I’m so far behind in reading the blog, but I would like to caution people about dealing with thieves. Before Kindle, sold e-books using Adobe DRM. When the Kindle system came out, they stopped using Adobe for DRM. This was perfectly logical, since there is no point in paying a third party for a service you are now doing yourself… But what about the e-books they sold previously? They stopped working when the buyer upgraded the “Adobe Digital Editions” reader. Adobe says I should ask the vendor to replace the old pdf files with updated versions that will work with their new DRM servers. Amazon says that they don’t sell those any more, and that I should ask the publisher to make them available in Kindle versions, presumably so I can pay them again for the same books.

    I don’t suppose Kindle users are running the same risk, since Amazon can’t pretend it’s all Adobe’s fault and vice-versa. But I am convinced that Amazon stole four books I had paid for, so I’m not willing to trust them since I know them to be thieves.

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