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“Short-form” reading on the Kindle

February 5, 2010

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, championed the Kindle and its form as the best outlet of “long-form” reading. He was right. However, that does not preclude one from using their Kindle for “short-form” reading. We will devote many posts to this topic including: types of formats; sources of materials; the trade-offs between ease versus frugality (in regards to Amazon subscriptions); among other topics.

The most recognizable type of ‘short-form’ reading is the periodical. Next, is probably the web log (“blog”). Or perhaps individual articles—and that is where we will start.

Since the internet-as-news platform was adopted by the masses, most users have become accustomed to reading articles on their computer screen. With the proliferation of smartphones, many have found it more desirable to read such articles on these smaller screens—trading smaller font size for portability and more relaxed reading positions.

That does not mean that either method is the optimal format for either group of users—it just may be the best of what is currently available. For some, this may result in less reading, more skimming, and/or eye strain. If you find yourself with one or more of these problems but still enjoy reading articles for pleasure, education or work, then an ebook reader may be your solution. If you already have an e-reader, then let’s explorer how to optimally collect and read articles.

STEP 1: Instapaper registration

Visit Instapaper.com and register for a new account—you have the option of creating a password-protected account, but this is not necessary (and can be added if you later choose), so no email address is required.

Then drag the “Read Later” button (seen below) to your browser’s bookmarks.

STEP 2: Select articles

Whenever you are browsing on the internet and come across an article you would like to read on your Kindle, while you are on the article’s page (tip: if possible, choose the “printer-friendly” version of the article) click the “Read Later” bookmark from your browser’s bookmarks.

A “Saved!” message will briefly appear in the top-left corner of the page.

That is all there is to saving an article.

STEP 3: Download the articles

You can add as many articles as you like—your own personal experience will probably determine how many articles you prefer per “ebook” download.

Visit the your Instapaper Unread page and, as seen below, click the appropriate format for your e-reader (Kindle: mobi; Nook, Sony: epub) to download.

If your e-reader is already connected to your computer, you should be able to download (e.g. Kindle–> “documents”  folder).  Otherwise, choose a location on your computer and then transfer via USB later.

STEP 4: Read the articles

For Kindle users, opening the ‘ebook’ (which will contain “Instaper in its title) will take you to the first article.  You can also click the “Menu” button on your Kindle and select “Table of Contents” to see the entire article list and jump to whatever article you wish.

I find this to be a great service—a time-saver by postponing internet “reading” when more important (e.g. work) should be done; a better format for reading articles that tend to get overly-skimmed when read on a computer screen.

Notes:

You can also choose to have your articles sent automatically and wirelessly to your Kindle at intervals (e.g. daily, weekly).  This will result in a 15-cent charge per MB (which is around 40 articles) to your Amazon account.  Visit the “Extras” page on Instapaper to setup this feature.

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