Monday, August 2, 2010

It's everywhere

I'm on record as a Kindle lover.  My first-generation Kindle is always with me, tucked into my satchel to be pulled out at lunch or at the gym or at the coffeeshop.  On it you'll find books I've recently reviewed, upcoming and past Wrapped Up In Books selections, and a long list of Project Gutenberg books and other e-texts that I've grabbed off the web and sent to my Kindle's address for conversion.

Prompted by the elegant and astounding website, I've recently revived a neglected tool for my Kindle. selects and links to long form non-fiction feature writing -- from magazines, newspapers, and blogs.  You can send its finds to your Kindle so that whenever you have a moment to read, you have a collection of high-quality journalism waiting for you.  I find that I don't want to read long pieces on my computer screen; scrolling is awkward, the bright light is tiring to the eyes, and the computer is a place where I multitask rather than concentrate on a text for an extended period of time.  By contrast, the Kindle is exactly the place where I read longer texts, happily and naturally.

To make the to Kindle connection, your intermediary is Instapaper, a miraculous service that allows you to save the text of any webpage to read later.  Create a free account at  Then drag the "Read Later" bookmarklet to the toolbar of your browser.

You'll need to set up your Instapaper account to send bundles of articles to your Kindle.  There are a few options; I think the service is well worth the 15 cents per instance that Amazon charges to receive a document and put it on your Kindle wirelessly.  Instapaper allows you to maximize your bang for that fraction of a buck by sending up to 20 of your unread items in a single file, every week or every month, whenever you have accumulated a minimum of 10 items.

Now go to -- or do what I do and add the site's feed to your favorite feed reader.  Mine is Google Reader.  Whenever adds a link to an article, it shows up in Reader along with all the blogs I follow.

Click on the "Original Article" link in the post.  Off you go to the website where the article sits on the web.  Then click your "Read Later" bookmarklet.  A pop-up informs you that Instapaper has saved the text to your account.  (If you don't happen to have your Kindle at any given moment, read your Instapaper articles on your iPhone or iPad, too.)

Pretty soon you'll start clicking "Read Later" all over the web, saving articles from your online newspapers and magazines and blogs.  And your reading time will be that much more diverse and enjoyable.  It's like stuffing your messenger bag full of newspaper sections and magazine issues for the next time you are in a waiting room with time on your hands -- except the selection's always growing, you only have the articles you're interested in, and if you're in the mood for Dickens, The Pickwick Papers is still open to the page where you stopped last time.

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