Top 5 tips for new Kindle users

Written by Derek Wilson on July 17th, 2011

So you’ve got a fancy new Kindle eReader? You might be aware you can read books on it (I sure hope) but Kindles are capable of a bit more than simply reading books purchased from Amazon. Here’s a list of the top 5 things you should try after getting your new kindle.

Get Free Books:

Amazon has a ton of books available through it’s Kindle store but did you know that there are thousands of books that you can legally read for free? Project Gutenburgis a online website that offers nearly 40,000 books for free. They digitize books that are out of copyright (like Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, or Moby Dick). It’s typically a lot of classics and not so much newer books, but it is free. You can also find more free books at ManyBooks, Open Library, or even the Kindle Store itself!

Get Organized with Calibre:

Once you’ve started your eBook collection you’ll probably find that it can be pretty tough to keep track of all your new books (especially if you’ve been downloading loads of free classics). Thankfully there exists some great software to make this job easier. Calibre is an example of some mighty fine ebook management software that you find recommended all over the web. Calibre is like iTunes for books, it can download book metadata, convert between formats, sync with devices, view ebooks and download news. It’s a must-have peice of software for managing your digital book collection.

Get Instapaper delivered to your Kindle:

Instapaper is an awesome online service for saving articles online to read later. It makes reading long articles on the web much more pleasant and allows me to defer reading some excellent writing for boring bus rides or quiet evenings. Since I read a lot online my Instapaper queue tends to really get backlogged. Thankfully the developer of Instapaper has set up an automatic delivery system for Kindle users. Using your free Kindle email address Instapaper can send a compilation of upto 20 unread articles automatically or manually on a set interval. Head to the Manage your Kindle page at Instapaper for instructions on how to set it up.

Kindle Optimized Websites:

You are probably aware that the Kindle has a rudimentary web browswer (If not check it out by going to Menu > Experimental > Launch Browser). Even though the browser is based on the Webkit engine (the same engine that powers Google Chrome and Safari) the browsing experience can be a bit cumbersome. Luckily there’s a tool called Kinstant (http://www.kinstant.com) that hat can optimize websites for the Kindle by simplifying the formatting. You can even bookmark your commonly visited sites to save you some typing.

Custom Firmware:

The Kindle has a pretty good list of supported ebook formats, but if you’re looking for support for a few more (epub, doc, djvu & better pdf support) some rather crafty Chinese programmers have created a custom firmware for Kindle called Duokan. It’s a bit of an involved installation process but it may be worth it you’ve got an extensive ebook collection in another format or can’t stand to see your personal electronics go un-tweaked (I’m guilty of this.) Check out this installation guide to get you started with the proper files and step-by-step instructions. [Note: Only available for Kindle3]

That’s it for now. What are some awesome tips you’ve got for Kindle users? Share it in the comments.