Since I wrote this, the Amazon Kindle market has changed out of all recognition. However, as a period piece, this has perhaps some interest!
Today is my birthday – not an important one; no royal telegrams just yet. But I’m now the proud owner of a Kindle – Amazon’s own-brand e-book reader to those of you still in the electronic Dark Ages, like me until recently. Here it is with the ever-changing screen saver showing Alexandre Dumas – appropriately, since we’re in France.
Actually, I got it a fortnight ago. The SF almost had apoplexy trying to figure out where exactly you are supposed to buy one if you live in France. He then felt the need to enlist my help thus letting out the proverbial cat about my present.
The relevance of this post to life in France is that Kindles are not available from amazon.fr. If you don’t have a UK postal address you can’t get one from amazon.co.uk either. So you have to get it from amazon.com in the States and you seem to be tied into getting all the books for it from America as well. I say ‘seem to’ since people tell me they have been able to re-register it to their UK account. And you can get e-books from other sites as well.
Anyway, I’m very grateful to a number of people for advice about Kindles, including writing colleagues on Writers Abroad and blogging pal Stephanie, who breeds llamas, writes books and does many other things. Armed with their advice, the SF and I tiptoed through the minefield and scrambled over the barbed wire of the Kindle Store and eventually arrived at our objective.
Once we had detonated the ‘buy now’ button it all went very smoothly. From wherever these things are warehoused in the States to la France profonde took less than 48 hours.
The fun started when we tried to connect it to our wi-fi network. You’re supposed to be able to set the Kindle up on the network in a few easy stages. It failed persistently. You can download e-books via the computer to the Kindle but it’s a bit tedious and seemed to defeat the object.
I Googled ‘Kindle connection problems’ and got 173,000 hits. We weren’t the only ones, it seems. ‘I’m going to send mine back’ seemed to be a consistent refrain in the online forums. We had already thrown the box in the rubbish bin a kilometre away. A friend suggested it might be a good idea to retrieve it so the SF delved around amongst the sacks until he found it, somewhat the worse for wear – him and the box.
To cut a long and frustrating story short, we then discovered that our wi-fi router was on the blink. Once we had the new one, everything went swimmingly and it connected first time. So there is a happy ending.
I’m still wearing Kindle ‘L’ plates but am looking forward to getting the hang of it. Nonetheless, I feel a bit wistful. I still like proper books – the look, feel and even smell of them. But I suppose you have to move with the times. One day even blogs will look old-fashioned. Perhaps they do already.
Copyright © A Writer’s Lot in France 2011, all rights reserved
My husband got me a Kindle for my birthday, but he loves it so much I hardly ever get to use it! Fortunately I can read my Kindle books on my itouch.
Be careful with emailing to your Kindle though – I think amazon charges for the service.
Yes, my husband seems to have appropriated mine for the moment! Thanks for the warning about email. I’ll look into the charges before trying it.
I’m in the US and haven’t tried downloading Kindle books from Amazon UK, but UK recognizes my email and password and identifies me correctly and I’ve bought regular books from them, although I don’t seem to qualify for free shipping. 😉 You might give it a try.
Thanks very much for the suggestion. I will give that a try – others have done it and it seems to work. There are other sites as well, such as Smashwords, where you can apparently download ebooks to your computer and then email them as attachments to your Kindle. So there are various ways around these problems.
Happy Birthday! Delighted to hear that you’re enjoying your Kindle. And thanks for the mention! You can send files to your Kindle – this is something I’ve discovered recently. So, what I’m doing to get hold of cheap Kindle books is buy and download them from Smashwords, without Amazon’s hefty sales tax, and then send them as an attachment in an email to my Kindle. You need to go into the settings section of your Kindle to find its email address, and you have to enter your email address so that it recognises it. Sorry if that sounds complicated – it’s actually very straightforward and if you search on the Net you’ll find the instructions.
Thanks for the advice. Seems pretty straightforward so I’ll have a go at that.
Happy Birthday Vanessa and enjoy your new toy!
Thanks, Jo. Don’t worry, I still love proper books!