Sending personal documents to Kindle

My wife just got a Kindle Touch for Christmas and she loves it. It’s lightweight, the screen is perfect for reading in daylight, and it came practically preloaded with a bunch of books. Well, Amazon doesn’t actually ship their Kindles with books, but because I had been using the Kindle app on my iPad for the last 20 months, all the books that I had collected or purchased during that time were ready to be downloaded into her Kindle registered under my Amazon account.

On my iPad, I prefer the Kindle app to Apple’s iBooks for a number of reasons, but chief among them is the fact that whatever books or documents I have registered with my Amazon account are available to be read on any device that runs the Kindle app (read: just about anything your heart desires, including but not limited to PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Android devices). That, of course, includes the line of Kindles themselves.

I read a lot on my iPad, both professionally and for leisure reading, and I was perfectly content with the Kindle app — except for one feature. I admit to having Kindle envy, not for the lighter weight or the e-ink display, but for the ability to email any document to be immediately available for reading. The Kindle app is great for books, but I wanted to be able to add my own custom content or documents in other file formats.

If you’re like me, I have good news and better news. The good news is that last month Amazon added that “e-mail document to Kindle” feature also to users of the iPad app. Just make sure your iOS app is uploaded to the most recent version, open the Kindle app, and touch the little “i” icon on the bottom right of the screen. You’ll see your own personal “Send-to-Kindle E-mail Address” which will work for that particular device (but also be available in your other Kindle-app-ready devices). Each file is limited to 50 MB, but the list of formats supported is fairly generous:

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
  • HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
  • RTF (.RTF)
  • JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
  • Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW)
  • GIF (.GIF)
  • PNG (.PNG)
  • BMP (.BMP)
  • PDF (.PDF)

The even better news is limited (so far) to Windows users.  You can now download a free “Send to Kindle” application for your PC which will allow you to send any document (in the above-listed file formats) with a single click from Windows Explorer or through the print menu of your software. Again, this works for both the regular Kindles as well as any device with a Kindle app.

This is a wonderfully convenient way of making all sorts of documents available for reading on your iPad: sermons, devotional materials, Bible studies, study notes, and much more. I used to think that I would be asking to borrow my wife’s Kindle from time to time, but instead my iPad has increased its usefulness to me.

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Kindle Fire vs. Apple iPad

The tablet market is starting to heat up. Amazon has introduced a new tablet called the Kindle Fire, priced at a much more affordable $199 (compared to the latest generation iPad which starts at $499). Andy Ihnatko from the Chicago Sun-Times says in his review that the “Kindle Fire is no iPad killer – but it is a killer device.” In other words, it’s a great gadget in its own right, but it has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. A pastor who is in the market for a portable device will have to determine which has the set of features (including price) that line up with his needs.

The iPad clearly shines in the number and quality of both native and third-party apps — many of which I’ve talked about on this blog. The beauty of Apple’s tablet is in its versatility and its smooth performance of a wide variety of tasks. The Kindle Fire only runs a limited number of Android apps. It clearly was made with content consumption (as opposed to content creation) in mind.

But if that’s all you’re looking for — a handy device you can use for reading books, watching videos, listening to audiobooks, etc. — you’ll probably be happy (and $300 less poor) with the Kindle Fire. Of course, if you limit your needs even further to just reading books, then save yourself an additional $120 and just buy a simple Kindle. Pastor Paul McCain has a good argument for investing in the Kindle platform if your primary interest is reading. But if you need a device that offers more (e.g., word processing, PowerPoint presentations, media creation and manipulation, data recording, etc., etc.,) then you’re going to have to start saving up for an iPad.

Check out the video below for a visual comparison of the two tablets.

New Amazon Kindle tablet

Earlier today Amazon announced their new Kindles. The most anticipated was the Kindle Fire, an Android-based tablet priced at $199. In addition, an even cheaper Kindle Touch ($99 for wifi-only, $149 for 3G) gives more real estate to the Kindle screen by replacing the keyboard with a multi-touch interface.

This isn’t a “tech blog” in the normal sense, and I don’t really care if the the Fire is an ‘iPad-killer’. I’ve never taken sides in the Mac vs PC or Apple vs. Android fanboy wars. Most pastors I know are simply looking for affordable tools that will assist them in their ministries. If you are looking for a tablet mostly for reading and storing your pastoral library digitally, my guess is you will be well served by purchasing one of these Kindles rather than an iPad and saving yourself $300-400. Think how many digital books that will buy!