The perfidious Kindle

In 2014 I read almost entirely genre fiction, and I blame the Kindle.

Not there’s anything wrong with genre fiction. When it’s well-written, it is the purest kind of reading pleasure; story-telling with no other purpose than to entertain.

It’s a bit like Hollywood blockbusters; a well-made blockbuster is in some ways the apotheosis of cinema. Brash, glossy, sensational entertainment may not be the most interesting or important thing that cinema can do, but it’s something cinema does uniquely well. All too often, though, I find myself sitting in the cinema watching silly, incoherent, predictable twaddle and promising myself that next time, I won’t be suckered in by the marketing, and I’ll go and see some the interesting Eastern European movie or the documentary instead.

Or the kind of junk food you think will be a self-indulgent treat, but you actually regret ordering even before you finish eating it.

And the Kindle just makes it too easy to keep buying more junk food. There’s always something heavily discounted; you can impulse buy and be reading in seconds; and the books don’t even clutter up your house.

And of course, there’s Amazon’s recommendations; they’re always telling you that if you liked X you might enjoy Y. But that doesn’t really work, for me. Because it’s the quality of the writing which matters more than the specific genre. And believe me, it doesn’t matter how much you like Georgette Heyer, other writers of historical romance are almost always disappointing. And just because you enjoy Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, it doesn’t mean you should keep buying random books that Amazon classifies as ‘Space Opera’.

So I’ve made a bit of a New Years resolution: more proper books.

Syncing non-Amazon books between Kindle and iPhone

One of the nice things about the Kindle is that it syncs with the Kindle app on iOS, so that you can read a few pages on your phone when you don’t have the Kindle with you.

But I thought that it only worked with books bought from Amazon and not those, for example, downloaded from Project Gutenburg. Which was annoying.

However, I have discovered that there is a way of making it work. Perhaps this is common knowledge, but I only found it by accident so I thought I’d share it.

The trick, such as it is, is to email the file to your Send-to-Kindle email address, which is the address used to add personal documents to the Kindle. It’s in the form name_xxx@kindle.com and you can find it in the Kindle settings.

Once it appears on the Kindle, it will also be available as an archived item in the Kindle app, and it should sync across devices in the normal way.

The syncing doesn’t work if you add the files to the iOS Kindle app via iTunes, or download them direct to the Kindle from the web, for example via the Project Gutenberg Magic Catalog, or if you put them onto the Kindle via USB.

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