What's Your Kindle-book's Name?

           I can use about 1% of my computer's functions, and about the same on my camera. Our lives these days are filled with gadgets that can do far more than we ever have the time or inclination to figure out.
          So in the helpful spirit that sparks and crackles from Authors Electric, I thought I'd pass on a few of the things I've learned about my Kindle. I daresay you already know many, but I hope there may be just one little wrinkle that's new to you.   

          Kindles are wonderful tools for writers.  Not only can you use them to check the appearance of any e-books you’re creating, but you can use them for proof-reading. 
          If you give talks, you can put your notes on the kindle and read them from there (which still strikes many people as 'cool'.)
          If your Kindle has a wi-fi connection, you can email documents directly to it, because your Kindle has its own unique email address.  To find yours, go to the ‘Home’ screen on your Kindle and press ‘Menu’.  Go to ‘settings’ and you’ll find a lot of information, including your Kindle’s name and its email address.  If you attach a document to an email, and send it to this address, it will arrive on your Kindle.
          If you don’t have a wi-fi connection, Amazon will send your document to your mailbox, or you can download from the 'Manage Your Kindle' section of your Amazon account.  Download to your computer and drag and drop it to your kindle via a connecting cable.
          Other people can email documents to your kindle in this way too – and can loan you Kindle books (though Amazon takes the loan back after a fortnight.)  However, this will cost you 20p per MB, though you can set a limit by going to the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ section of your Amazon account.
                   When I’m proof-reading my ebooks, I like to have the master-copy open on my laptop while I read on the Kindle. Each time I spot a typo, I correct the master – but I know that Kath Roberts, erstwhile of this blog, likes to use her Kindle to proof-read away from her computer. She does it by using the ‘Add a Note or Highlight’ tool.
          To find this, have the book or document you want to annotate open on your Kindle.  Click Menu. Using the edges of the navigation square, move to ‘View Notes and Highlights’, and click. Then either add a note, using the Kindle’s rather clumsy key-board, or highlight  whatever it is you want to find.
          You can access ‘Add a Bookmark’ in the same way. Click on this and Kindle  ‘folds down’ a corner of a page, to remind you that a mark is there – but you find them again by using ‘View Notes and Highlights’, as before. I’ve found this extremely useful with reference books, as I can mark any passage I think I might find useful. It’s very quick and easy to find them again. Once located in ‘View Notes and Highlights’, you click on the marked passages and jump straight to them. (I recently read a piece complaining that e-readers couldn't replace paper books because you 'couldn't make notes in the margins.' Well, ha! Not only can you make notes in your e-books, you can jump straight to them without having to rely on bookmarks whichfall out.)
          You can highlight any passage you especially liked in any book, and want to find again quickly.  If you have wi-fi, you can share these with the wider Kindle-reading public, and discover what annotates their Kindle.
          These notes are automatically backed up to Amazon, where all your purchased e-books are stored – as, indeed, are any personal documents you’ve emailed to your Kindle.
          Anything you delete from your Kindle, deliberately or accidentally, is stored in your Amazon Archive, and can be downloaded again whenever you like, either to your Kindle or to your computer.  Click Home, click Menu, and the third item down is ‘View Archived Items’. I’ve just noticed that I have ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ in there, which I loved. I must download it again.

          I quickly grew tired of clicking through page after page of books on my kindle in order to find the one I wanted.  I have 97 books on my Kindle, and I know some people have a lot more.
          I discovered that the Kindle lets you sort your books and documents in several ways.
          Go to the Home screen and, along the top you’ll see: Most Recent First, Title, Author, Collections.
          Click on any of these, and the Kindle instantly re-sorts your books and documents.  Most Recent First puts the last thing you downloaded, or were reading, at the top.
          Title obviously sorts them by title, in alphabetical order, and Author sorts them alphabetically by author.
          Collections is a little more complicated, but I find it useful. It sorts your books into folders.  What’s more, it allows you to put the same book into several folders – so, for instance, my Complete M R James could go into the ‘M R James’ folder and the ‘Ghost Stories’ folder.
Georgette Heyer
          Georgette Heyer could go into ‘History, fiction’ and ‘Romance.’  Moffat’s ‘Story of the Border Reivers’ could go into ‘History, fact’ and ‘Research.’  I find this makes it easier to find the book I want, or the one that matches my mood.
          To make a Collection, go to the Home screen, and click Menu.  Click the option Create New Collection. Enter and save your chosen Collection name.
          (Should you ever want to disband a collection, highlight it on Home screen, click Menu, and choose Rename Collection, or Delete Collection. This will NOT delete your books, magazines or documents – it will only remove the, if you like, virtual elastic band which has bundled them together under the Collection name.
          To add books to your new collection: first find the collection on your Home screen.
          Move the 5-way navigator (the little square) to the right. This brings you to a menu, with an icon displaying one of the book jackets in the collection. The  Menu choices are:  
          Open Collection – which displays all the books in it.
          Add/Remove Items – This takes you back to the Home Screen. You will see that the first book now has a thick, dark line beneath it, with a label ‘Add to this collection.’
          This book may or may not be one that you want to add to your new collection.  If it is, click the centre of the square (OK) and it will be added.  (Or Removed, if it’s already in the collection.)
          If the book isn’t one you want to either Add or Remove, then go on down the page as you would normally.  If none of the books on that page are ones you want to Add or Remove, then click to turn the page, as normal.
          Books already in the Collection will have a tick to the right of them. When you find a book you want to add or remove, click on it with the central square. If it’s in the Collection, it will be removed. If it's not already in the Collection, it will be added.
          When you’ve added all the books you want, go to the bottom of the screen, and click Done.
          Amazon say you can’t build Collections unless your Kindle has been connected by wi-fi at least once; and you cannot, as yet, add magazines to Collections on Kindle keyboard.  You can, however, sort personal documents and audio-books in this way.
          Adding a book to a collection doesn’t alter the book in anyway, but Amazon ‘tags’ it.  This tag is preserved until you remove it. Archived items will retain their tag, and if you download them again, they will return to the Collection you associated with them.
         I hope this helps you organise all those new books you've added after Christmas, with your Amazon gift-token.

          Susan Price is the award-winning author of The Ghost Drum and The Sterkarm Handshake.
          Her website is here.
          And her blog is here.  


CallyPhillips said…
Interesting. I've been very happy with my Kobo Touch for over a year. I use it for nothing other than READING ebooks and proofing work to go out in epub format.
However, I'm constantly struggling thinking I should get hold of another format ereader to check properly how Kindle and ibooks actually work. So I'm wondering between Kindle Fire and ipad. But I'm finding it hard to justify - they seem to be great if you want to do all kinds of other things than read ebooks, but I just want to READ EBOOKS and see how the interfaces work with the various SHOPS. Whenever I actually try and work out which is best for EBOOK reading I can't beat the Kobo. But I'd be interested for others to make the case for what's good (and not so good) about Kindle Fire and ipad. Mind you, by the time I a) have the money and b) get round to a decision both will be out of date and something new will be there. So - what is the EBOOK READING experience like on Kindle Fire and ipad folks?
madwippitt said…
I find my Kindle great for proof reading too. For me at any rate, I find it easier to spot typos that I miss on the computer screen - anmd it's easy to quickly highlight them (or add additional text) which is quick to find when then correcting the original document. And it's brilliant for testing that all your links and hyperlinks work too!
Chris Longmuir said…
I read on my Kindle Fire, but rarely if ever read on my iPad. I quite like the Fire but it doesn't do collections like the other models do. However, you can easily view your books either in the Cloud (archived) or on the Device (Kindle), of course you need a wireless connection to view the ones in the Cloud. It can also sort your books alphabetically by author or title, and I find it quite easy to find my books on it. If I didn't have collections on my other Kindles I would struggle to find anything. The good thing about the Fire is that your books are listed in full colour by their covers. The other Kindles only list the titles and author. I find if I read during the day I do it on my Fire, but I read from my Touch screen Kindle when I'm in my bed, and both Kindles sync to where I left off (wireless connection required for this as well). Hope this helps your decision, Cally. BTW I always buy the wireless Kindles.

CallyPhillips said…
Should have pointed out that one reason for thinking of ipad is that I HATE reading on a 7 inch screen! But Chris, are you saying ipad screen is pants for reading ebooks? I'm just not sure what all the 'tablet' stuff is about. I don't want to be able to do all kinds of OTHER things - just read ebooks. But my dream is to read an ebook page the size of a paperback page!
Debbie Bennett said…
I just got a kindle paperwhite. Like Cally, all I want to do is read ebooks, so I wanted something that wasn't backlit so it's easier on the eyes. Bizarrely, the paperwhite is front-lit with a thin fibre-optic layer on top of the screen. I love it. It's really easy to read and simple to operate - just opening the case switches it on!
julia jones said…
That organising your books into collections -- sounds worrying like all the photos I never quite get round to putting into albums. So I'll save this post for reference. (Which reminds me - the thing I'd like even better is an AE file for all the How-To-Do-Its. But I don't suppose I'll ever organise such a thing. Perhaps we need more snow ...? A move to Siberia perhaps)
Lynne Garner said…
Fab suggestions - never thought about putting teaching notes on mine, I just use it to read eBooks on.
Lee said…
Cally, I can't compare the experience to a Kindle, but I've been able to read just fine on my iPad, even one-eyed on the same day I had an operation on my retina...till the surgeon came in & caught me at it! I like the screen size and quality - for text, the latter is partly influenced by which app you choose - but since mine is only first generation, it's a bit heavy compared to the newer ones. Still, I'd think seriously next time round about comparing the iPad to other tablets, because I miss having flash and like the flexibility of a different OS and other options. I do use my iPad, however, for tasks other than reading - not often, but I like to be able to look up a definition or reference without having to run to the PC, for example.
Chris Longmuir said…
No, Cally, it's not that the reading on the iPad is pants. You can read on it fine, it's just that I prefer to read on the Kindle. Maybe it's the size of the iPad screen which makes it less like reading a real book. I find when I'm reading my Kindle I can forget it's not a 'real' book. I use my iPad for emails and the internet. It's great for that.
Thanks for the mention, Sue! I have the old Kindle keyboard, so far still working despite being aiport scanned several times. (A friend took her Kindle Fire through the scanner recently, and it stopped working... so beware!)

I think the Paperwhite looks nice for just reading, also the "simple kindle", but they are not so good for making notes.

I must admit pdfs (if proofreading a typeset print book) come out very small on the Kindle, which can be a problem in bad light/if you are getting long sighted - I use the zoom facility to get around this, but it's a bit time consuming!
Susan Price said…
How about putting all the 'How To s' on a separate blog page? A bit of work for somebody, but possibly useful.
Lee said…
Susan, good idea! A lot of what you've explained about the Kindle applies in one form or another to reading on the iPad, and I'd be happy to run up a how-to list at some point, maybe with help from Chris.
glitter noir said…
I've just learned some cool new tricks I had no idea my Kindle could do. Much obliged for the great primer.

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