Before we left China in late April, I ordered two Kindles (sent to a US address since Amazon won’t ship Kindles to China). I bought a Kindle DX for me and a Kindle 2 for Sprite. We got them registered immediately, and I fell in love in a matter of days.
I read Little Women, The Jungle, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (all free books in the public domain) in the first month of having my Kindle. Having the Kindle made me remember how much I love reading. But living abroad had put a damper on my book buying. When I did buy books, it was almost exclusively for Sprite and for her education. The shipping costs to get books abroad are amazingly expensive.
When I got back home to my desktop in China, I added a lot of PDF files to my Kindle — free homeschooling things that I’d collected from various websites. I find that reading the Kindle on the couch or in bed is much more enjoyable than sitting in front of my computer screen. So now I’m actually reading those things I used to download and promptly forget about.
Sprite helped me hot glue a bit of craft foam to the bottom, inside edge to prevent any rubbing.
I often use my stand — whether having my devotional times with my ESV Bible and The Message or listening to audio books or referring to cookbooks in the kitchen. I bought the How to Cook Everything cookbook. I slip my Kindle in a ziptop plastic bag while I’m in the kitchen with it.
I had expected to pay extra fees for using the Whispernet global wireless service in China. Before I bought the Kindles, I researched and found that it costs an additional $2 per book to use this convenient feature abroad. “No worries,” I thought, “I’ll just use my USB cord to add books and avoid any extra charges.”
But when I got to China, I had to experiment. First I turned on the wireless just to see if it worked at all here. It does! (The map Amazon offers does show my area as having Whispernet coverage, but to be honest, I just didn’t believe it until I tried. Not all of China is covered. Be sure to check the map for your location.)
Then I tried searching the Kindle store and downloading a free sample and a free book. It worked, but I wondered if I might get charged a fee for that book. As if to answer my question, when my new items uploaded, I also got a letter from Amazon telling me that although periodicals, blogs, and documents would incur a fee for transmitting via Whispernet, BOOKS ARE FREE via international Whispernet. I read it a dozen times to be sure. But, yes, it clearly says, “There is no charge for wirelessly recieving books, receiving single periodical issues, browsing the Kindle store, or using the experimental web browser while traveling internationally.”
I checked my account for a few days afterward to make sure that there were no additional fees from Amazon. Nothing.
Then we tested it again with a purchase of a book for Sprite. I wanted her to read The Watsons go to Birmingham as part of our study of the Civil Rights Movement. I didn’t buy it in America because I knew I could get it for the Kindle. We bought it using the wireless connection, and it downloaded within 2 minutes without any extra charges. Incredible!
I’m going to tell the whole Kindle story — the good and the bad.
Here’s the bad.
Sprite’s Kindle broke after we’d been back in China just a few weeks. We have no idea what happened. There was no impact or damage that we know of. It suddenly started having lines across the top one third of the screen. It made part of the books illegible. Even when powered off, the lines were still visible.
I was so disappointed! I called Amazon customer service to see about getting it repaired.
Here’s the good.
The associate was so helpful. He said the Kindle was still under the one year warranty period and therefore would be exchanged outright for a brand new one.
The only catch was that they would mail only to a USA address. And I had to return the broken Kindle to them. My dear mom received the Kindle and shipped it over to us. Thanks, Mom!
So even though I was terribly disappointed that the Kindle 2 broke so quickly, I was impressed with the Amazon’s customer service to rectify the situation.
While I was on the phone with the associate, I was upfront with him about being in China. He said that we were not paying international download fees because our Kindles are registered to a USA address and while we vacation abroad, the fees are not charged. So if I were to change my registration address to a Chinese one, I would start having to pay the extra $2 per book wireless fee. But for now, wireless is free.
I am totally thrilled with these Kindles! For people like us who live abroad, they are a lifeline to good reading.
- No expensive shipping costs. (Amazon, for example, charges an additional $5 per book to mail abroad.)
- No waiting two weeks to two months for a package. (Or what about lost packages that never arrive?)
- No bulky books to pack and pay airline overage for. (United charged us $300 per 50 lb piece of overage.)
- No books on the already overloaded bookshelves at home.
- When we travel, we can pack the book-sized Kindle and have an entire library available.
Granted, not all books are available in Kindle format. And some books just wouldn’t work anyway. Imagine an Usborne book with all its full color images reduced to a few paragraphs of text. Yuck. But there are many classics available (and often free or very cheap) and many current bestsellers and new releases available. Most of the modern Newbery award winners,for example, are available in Kindle format.
The dictionary is a real hit with her. She prefers the Oxford American Dictionary that comes pre-installed on the Kindle over using her hardback dictionary.
I have to admit that I love this feature of the Kindle too. While reading any Kindle book, you can place the cursor on any word to see the meaning at the bottom of the screen. If you want to read the full dictionary entry, you can see that by pressing a button. Then pressing BACK will take you right back to what you were reading.
I’ve created a lens about using the Kindle for homeschooling. It has some of the practical facts I’ve added here as well as links to where you can find freebies to put on your Kindle.
The Kindle 2 (and I assume the newer ones) can read PDFs too. This is a new function since I bought them Kindles!
Of course, the Kindle reader is free to download, so you can technically read Kindle books without a Kindle at all.