Saturday, 25 August 2012

While Reading My Kindle In The Bath... By Susan Price

Or, Kindle Tutorial No. 1


My Kindle in its macintosh
          Calloo callay oh frabjous day! I can now read my kindle in the bath.
          The only fault I found with my Kindle was that I dared not read it in the bath – and, when feeling especially tired, I like to spend a couple of hours in hot water, with a tot of single malt, and a good book.
          But now almost all my reading is done on the Kindle, I have to switch off my current book and exchange it for a paper one that will survive a bath – not ideal when you’re in the middle of something gripping.
          And then I spotted this plastic bag…  To be fair, it is a bit more than a plastic bag.  It has a waterproof seal, rather like those on re-sealable food bags, but tripled.  Those triple seals fold over and are fastened down with press-studs.  The kindle can be read and operated through the plastic.
          There is also this more expensive version from Lakeland, which has a floating cushion, so your kindle can bask on its own lilo.  We are sternly warned that these ‘splash-proof’ covers are not for underwater use – so do not try this while scuba-diving.  However, it’s more than sufficient to save your e-reader from a dunk in the tub.
My Kindle in its usual red leather jacket. And sunnies
          Having solved your Kindle-bathwater interaction problems, I thought I’d use the rest of this post for  a Kindle tutorial.  This may bring the words ‘eggs’ and ‘granny’ to your mind, but I’ve been struck by how little many Kindle owners know about the Kindle. 
         When non-owners accost me in cafes and pubs to ask me how it works, that’s one thing – but I was recently at a gathering of Kindle-owning writers, and found myself conducting an impromptu class, not on formatting work for the Kindle, but on the basics of using the thing, such as how to change the font size.
          “Can you make yours talk?” they said.  “How do you do it?”
         Here, then, are some FAQs and their answers.  I begin with the absolute basics, for absolute beginners.  (The rest of you, get on with your work quietly.)

Kindle keyboard - square touchpad to the right

          How do I download books?  Is it easy? – There are two ways.  If your Kindle has wi-fi, you click on ‘Menu’ (above the square touch-pad) and it will offer you ‘Shop in Kindle Store’ (second choice down, on the left.)
The 'Menu menu'
 Click to this, using the edges of the square touch-pad, and select it by clicking the pad’s centre square. (Clicking on the square's left edge will move the cursor to the left; clicking on the lower edge will move it down, and so on.)
          Your Kindle will connect to the Amazon Kindle Store.  You can either browse, navigating via the Kindle’s small touch-pad and the page-turning buttons, or you can use the keyboard to type in a title or author.
          Click ‘Buy’ and the book downloads to your Kindle in seconds.  (If you buy by accident, which is easily done, you can unbuy immediately, so no worries.)
Varney on the job
          If your Kindle doesn’t have wi-fi, go to Amazon on your computer.  They will send you an email in confirmation of your purchase, with a link from which you can download the book to your computer desktop.  Connect your Kindle to your pc by a cable, and ‘drag and drop’ from one device to the other.  (My brother tells me that he hasn’t yet bought an e-book.  As he’s into obscure 19th Century penny-dreadfuls, he downloads them, free, from Project Gutenberg to his desktop, and drag-drops them to his Kindle.  He then thrills to Varney the Vampyr on his way to and from work.)
          How do I change the size of the print?  If you have a keyboard Kindle, like mine, squint at the keyboard until you find the Aa button (to the right of the little spacebar.)  This brings up a menu.  Along the top line Aa is repeated in various sizes.  Move the cursor (using the sides of the square touch-pad) until it underlines the size you want.  Click the centre of the square, and the print-size will change.
The 'Aa menu'

          The Aa key’s menu also offers you a choice of typeface (regular, condensed or sans serif), line-spacing and words per line.  Select them in the same way.
          How do I get my kindle to talk to me? – Use the same Aa menu.  Almost at the bottom, it offers ‘Text to speech’.  Move down to it using the edges of the square, choose it by clicking on the square, and Kindle will read aloud whatever is on the screen.  In this mode, it also turns its own pages, and can be paused.  I’ve just had mine read me a couple of pages of Walter Scott in a woman’s voice with a faint American accent.  Amazon call this feature ‘experimental’, and doubtless it will improve.

          You can also put Audio Books on the Kindle, and play them through it. 

          How do I change the screen orientation? - Right at the bottom of the Aa menu is ‘Screen Rotation.’  Small illustrations offer 4 ways of using the kindle – with the keyboard at the top, at the bottom, to the left or right.  As before, click down to this choice, click along to choose the one you want, and click the centre of the square.  I have found that I much prefer reading in landscape or letter-box format, with the keyboard to the right. – but choose the way that best suits you. 
          To get rid of the Aa menu, either click the Aa again, or press ‘Back’ (beneath the square touchpad).  ‘Back’ is useful, as it will return you to where you were, no matter what buttons you’ve been playing about with.
          I’m out of space, but I’ve more to tell, so, next month, Part 2! - Which will be a little more advanced.

Artwork: Andrew Price
Susan Price's latest e-books are:











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Artwork: Andrew Price


      






      The Ghost Wife



     Susan Price also blogs here

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4 comments:

Dennis Hamley said...

Gosh, Sue, I never knew my Kindle could do all that.

Katherine Roberts said...

Ah, but have you actually DROPPED it in the bath yet? I've got a waterproof digital camera that takes pictures and video underwater, so the Waterproof Kindle is obviously just around the corner...

I love the text-to-speech. When I'm reading in bed, or reading while eating and don't have a hand free to turn the "pages", I turn it on so it reads to me. I like the female voice for some texts and the male for others. Next time I do a school visit with Year 9's on a Friday afternoon, I'm just going to turn on my Kindle text-to-speech reading my latest book, hand it to the teacher, and go for a cup of tea...

Susan Price said...

I like the idea of leaving the kindle to read to a class while you slope off for a cuppa!
I've never dropped the kindle in a bath because I've never dared take it anywhere near one. But I shall test its new macintosh asap.

julia jones said...

Thanks Sue - I'll be back next month for more ...