I got a Kindle yesterday and have been spending time exploring it. Since I’m just getting started, I didn’t want to get wild and crazy buying up an entire library full of books. Here are seven free things you can do with your brand new Kindle that also help you learn how it works.
1. RTFM (Read the “Fine” Manual) The tech writer in me implores you to read how to use the thing. You’ll be glad you did. Amazon even makes it really easy, since the user’s guide is the first thing you see on the screen. If you need to refer back to it later, you can find it again in your book list when you press the Home button.
Right after I got my Kindle, I went through the user’s guide to help me through the setup stuff. First I had to connect it to our wireless network, so it can talk to Amazon. We have the world’s longest wireless access password key, so going through the set up also forced me to figure out how to use the tiny keyboard and the “Sym” button to get at numbers.
2. Check out the Kindle Top 100 Free Books list. Navigating through the Kindle interface takes a bit of getting used to, particularly if you’re used to browsing on a computer. To get to the store, press the menu button and select Shop in Kindle Store. Click Kindle Top Sellers, then Kindle Top 100 Free (it’s a small link on the right-hand side).
Once you’re in the list, you can practice buying books for free to see how it all works. I found a whole bunch of my favorite classic books, including Little Women, The Secret Garden, The Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Eyre, and Pride and Prejudice. I also downloaded fun stuff like chocolate chip cookie recipes, and a couple of fantasy and romance novels.
3. Search for more free books. Unfortunately, it appears that you can’t change the sort order from “Bestselling” when you’re in the Kindle Storefront. To find more free Kindle books, you need to go to Amazon.com. Technically, surfing the Web on your Kindle is “experimental.” So click Home, then Experimental, then Web Browser. Go to Amazon.com, search for Kindle books and change the sort order, so it goes from low to high. Surfing the Web is somewhat painful on a Kindle though, so if you have access to a computer, it’s easier to just do the search there and then search and buy the free books using the Kindle Storefront.
4. Play with the Kindle Easter Egg! This tip is from my friend Dian Chapman. I tried it and it works. Press the Home button, then Alt+Shift+M to start up a game of Minesweeper. When you’re in the game, you press M to mark/unmark a mine, the R key to restart and the G key to play GoMoku (you press M to go back to Minesweeper). Press Home to get back to the regular Kindle screen
5. Download excerpts of books you might want to buy. The other thing you can do is download excerpts of books you might want to buy later. In the Kindle Storefront, browse for books. For example, recently I read a blog post that mentions a book called The Micro-Script Rules. I searched for “microscript” (I didn’t need the hyphen) on the Kindle and the book came right up. Instead of clicking “Buy,” click “Try a sample” and you get an excerpt instead. I also downloaded an excerpt of my own book Funds to the Rescue. (And for those who were wondering, I did a search and it seems at this point, there is no way you can get a free copy of your own book.)
6. Read the Kindle Daily Post. Just in case you haven’t downloaded every free thing yet, you also can read the Kindle Daily Post, which offers up reviews of various books that you can read on your Kindle. The post one I looked at today is 79 pages long, so it will keep you busy.
7. Get some fabric and make a cute case for your Kindle. You can approach the idea a few different ways:
- A Kindle carrying case
- A custom Kindle cover with built in stand
- A book cover style Kindle case
- A laminated “Kindle Keeper”
- A Kindle pouch with a special compartment for the power cord
Anyway, along with lots of reading, I plan to make a Kindle pouch this weekend. Enjoy your new Kindle!
Note: After I wrote this article, I did make the case; here it is!
My new Kindle Case!