jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘kindle’

ESV Bible Text Size On The Kindle

In technology on April 20, 2008 at 9:11 pm

I received an email today asking for a screenshot of the ESV on the Kindle, I figured it has been a while since I’ve posted on my beloved Kindle so here it is.

Text Size

I’ve taken screenshots of the ESV at different text sizes. It’s interesting to note that only the book’s text size changes when you increase/decrease the font size; the navigation menus do not. This is something to consider if you are planning on using the Kindle for its ability to increase the font size, you will have to keep in mind that the menus will stay the same size no matter what you do to the font size. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view:

Text size 1

Kindle Screenshot text 1

Text size 2

Kindle Screenshot text 2

Text size 3

Kindle Screenshot text 3

Text size 4

Kindle Screenshot text 4

Text size 5

Kindle Screenshot text 5

Text size 6

Kindle Screenshot text 6

Text size 6 with navigation menu open

Kindle Screenshot with navigation

You’ll also notice that as you increase the text size, you increase the line height spacing which really cuts down on the number of verses you can display on one page.

Contrast

The contrast in these screenshots is not representative of the actual Kindle. The Kindle’s screen looks more like a newspaper with a light gray background and black text. I’ve used the Kindle for hours at a time in typical room lighting and never had any issues with eye strain though.

Awkward Navigation

After using this thing for a few months I’m still not able to look up passages as fast as I can with a paper Bible. It is fine for jumping around during a sermon or class but if you are studying something in depth, you’ll probably end up using ol’ faithful. For me the benefits are still the same:

  • full text search
  • having lots of books on one device
  • plenty of good content available
  • ability to take notes with a keyboard
  • free internet access!
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Free Books!

In news on March 12, 2008 at 10:55 pm

The Truth of the CrossSorry for the sneaky title. Ligonier is offering a free PDF of some of their books if you agree to review it on your blog. After they review your…review…they will send you a free hard-copy of the same book you wrote about. I picked up The Truth of the Cross in PDF format and easily put it on my Kindle (look for a review soon). Then I realized that Reformation Trust doesn’t offer their books on the Kindle but they obviously have PDF versions readily available. This then lead to the obvious question; Why don’t more publishers offer electronic versions of their books if they have them? I realize there is a lot to the publishing world I don’t know about so please excuse my ignorance in this matter. I’m not just looking to get every book on my Kindle, I just think a lot of folks would love to have a PDF copy of the hard-copy books they purchase. This way you could read the hard-copy books on paper but also have the ability to use the PDF as a search-able reference document for later studies (not all of us have Al Mohler’s uncanny ability to memorize every book he reads).

Does anyone have some insight into this?

Amazon Kindle Review (With an Eye on Bible Study)

In books, reference, technology on March 8, 2008 at 4:23 pm

kindleSo, here it is. I’ve been using the Amazon Kindle just a few short weeks and it has certainly beat out any expectations I had. It’s not perfect, but we’ll get into that. There are plenty of other reviews of the Kindle out there, but this one is with a focus on using the Kindle as a Bible study tool.

What is a Kindle

I get asked this question a lot as people come across me using this “we only pretended to study the iPod while designing this thing” device. Its main function is to be an e-reader, to let you store multiple books on one device and provide you with a display that is not draining on the eyes after hours of reading. You buy a book (or find free a book) and download it to the Kindle, then you read through it just like you would any normal book, using the buttons on the side of the device to turn the pages forward and backward. Two things set the Kindle apart from other e-readers that have come out in the past: Amazon created it so you know the publishers will be following closely to keep up with their good friends in Seattle and it includes the ability to connect to Sprint’s cellular network and download the books from Amazon.com anywhere you can get a Sprint signal. These are great features, but personally, the thing that set the Kindle apart was the QWERTY keyboard that was included on the device, this allows you to take notes in the margins and highlight passages that interest you. I scribble a lot of notes while I read and now I can go back and read over them and even search through them since they are all electronic.

What Kind of Books Can You Put on the Kindle

From the Kindle you can browse the current selection of books offered at Amazon.com for the device. I will say at this point, the selection of “Christian” books is fairly slim although I don’t necessarily read the types of Christian books you would find in the Christian book store (see my library at LibraryThing). A nice feature to the Kindle is the ability to put your own books on it. There are lots of free books that you can download in html or pdf format that you can put on your Kindle simply by email them as attachments to yourdevicename@free.kindle.com. A few minutes later, you will get an email back from Amazon with a properly formatted azw file to download to your Kindle via USB. I’ve found quite a few books at ccel.org that I’ve been meaning to read through but haven’t because I didn’t want to read them on my desktop computer. Here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. Download a book to your computer, try Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.
  2. Compose an email to yourdevicename@free.kindle.com and add the PDF file as an attachment.
  3. Plug in your Kindle to your computer with the USB cable.
  4. After you get an email from Amazon with the azw file attached, download that attachment directly to the “documents” directory on your Kindle. That’s it!

List

Even though these books are free, people still had to spend some cash to get it up on the web, it might be a good idea to make a donation to the websites so that they can continue to offer these great services to us.

What Does the Kindle Mean For Bible Study

I have two versions of the Bible on my Kindle, the NASB and the ESV. Both of them have very awkward navigation methods. When you open the Bible, you start on whatever page you last left off on. This is difficult because if you are in the middle of a chapter, you will have no idea what chapter you are in or what book you are in. The book/chapter reference is not displayed anywhere on the screen except at the beginning of a chapter. The way around this is to change your habits a little and make full use of the search feature. When you want to read Ephesians 3, simply hit search then type in eph 3 and hit enter. You probably won’t be as fast jumping around the Bible on the Kindle as you would with a paper Bible but once you get the hang of it you won’t have any problem keeping up with sermons or Bible studies where the leaders jump from passage to passage. If you know you are going to be in three or four passages and want to flip back and forth between them, you can bookmark each one and jump between bookmarks easily.

ESV

I’ve touched on the cons of using the Kindle for Bible study, now for the pros. Search-ability. Can’t remember that verse you were reading earlier? Type in a word or two and you’re all set. This comes in handy when you’re away from a computer. You can also search any notes you’ve typed into the device, so if you are taking notes for a particular study, it might be good to tag your notes. For example, my Bible study group is going through Desiring God, so I’ll use the term “DG#” to indicate a particular note is for a chapter # in the Desiring God study. This is nothing new, you can do all this from any computer, but having it in a device that weighs almost nothing and has a battery that lasts close to a week is pretty cool. Searching will look through every book/note on your Kindle but the first result comes from the book you are currently reading.

A Few Tips

For any Kindle owners, here are a few things I’ve picked up during my use:

  • All of your notes are stored as txt files so you can download them to your desktop and read through them.
  • Don’t wait for the screen. The redrawing of the screen takes about 0.5 seconds but the Kindle will buffer any commands you give it during the redraw period. For example, if you know how many clicks of the scroll wheel it takes to get to the “Add Note” command you can click on that and begin typing your notes before the screen catches up with you. You can get really fast if you trust yourself and command the Kindle before waiting for the screen to catch up. Typing is similar. Don’t wait for your letters to appear, just type away and don’t wait for the screen to catch up.
  • You can press the Next Page and Prev Page buttons multiple times before the screen redraws. So, if you know you want to jump three pages away, press the Next Page button three times quickly and you will jump that many pages away without having to redraw each page along the way.
  • Make good use of the search function, it’s much faster than navigating.
  • If you create your own books, be mindful of the title you use, if you are creating a reference book, you may want to add a “ZZ” to the beginning of the title, that way all books that start with ZZ will be at the back of your list.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are very helpful. Learn em. A list is here.
  • You can take screenshots on the Kindle and make them your screensaver. I took a screenshot of a passage in 2 Peter that I’ve been memorizing and now it is my screensaver so I can memorize it.

A (small) Call to Christian Bloggers

In technology on February 21, 2008 at 8:17 pm

kindle

I would like to suggest to those who blog regularly on Christian topics and would consider their blog to be a “Christian blog” to look into making it available on the Kindle.

  • What this means – anyone who subscribes to your blog would have your posts sent to their Kindles automatically, every day. Subscribers pay between $0.99 and $1.99 per month to Amazon to subscribe to your blog. I doubt bloggers see much, if any, financial profit in this but that’s a rare goal to have in what we do.
  • Why do it – as of now, they have a few categorized blogs available to subscribe to but there is not even a category for “Religion/Spirituality”. Judging from the online form, they are looking to begin one though. So, I would love to see the majority of what I consider the good, Christian blogs out there made available for people.
  • How to do it – if you want to submit your blog to the Amazon Kindle website to have it listed and made available for people to subscribe to, click here. You will fill out a form and then receive an email asking for more information. From what I can tell, someone will read through your blog and see if they want to list it. I haven’t gotten further than this so I can’t tell you what’s next…
  • Why I think this is important -I’ve submitted my blog to Kindle and the email I received back is very crude, which tells me they are really just beginning this process and are early on in the development. My small call is for Christians to be at the forefront of this just in case it actually takes off rather than playing catch-up with technology as we occasionally do. I’m not highly optimistic that a lot of people are going to pay for blogs that they can get for free but, who knows, maybe this fee-based thing will go away soon if the popularity is strong enough (or if advertisers have a chance to play). I think there is a lot of good material out there that folks, believers and non, can benefit from.

Print is Dead?

In technology on February 18, 2008 at 5:03 pm

KindleThere has always been something fascinating to me about those who have written and published a book. A real book. How do you define a real book? Well, for the purpose that I write about today, something of substance and over 100 pages in length. I have a few publications out there, in journals and the school that granted me a degree, but that’s not what I’m describing here. I mean people whose names are on a solid, well-researched book. Where the countless hours poured into the study and writing are all redeemed when the binding is cracked the first time a reader looses themselves in whatever world is detailed. These are the people that fascinate me.

Recently, Steve Jobs (I don’t think it would be a stretch to refer to him as a “trend-setter”) was quoted, saying:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

The irony of how many people read his comment is almost on par with the fact that my Kindle e-reader came with a 20-page printed user’s manual.

Jeff Gomez has written a book called Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age where he evangelizes authors, publishers, and distributors to get on the digital bandwagon and begin publishing in ways that are accessible to those who spend the majority of their time in front of computers and cell phones and rarely see printed text.

Here’s where I’d like to comment on Amazon’s drive to accomplish this. In conjunction with their release of the Kindle reading device, whose major one-up on all the other e-readers is that you can wirelessly download content in minutes almost anywhere you are, they have started a Digital Text Platform. It gives any author (with or without a publisher) the ability to publish their material for sale in the Kindle store. Just write, upload, set a price, and you’re published. No meetings, no approvals, no waiting.

Obviously making it so easy to become “published” will lead to an increase of poorly-written material being seen. But, it will also make it easier for some really exceptional writers who may not want to go through the processes that publishing houses place on them have their writings available. The great thing about the timing of this technology is that folks can easily comment on the “book” and rate it so that the poorly-written “books” will be weeded out and the well-written ones will become visible quickly.

I am excited about where things are going in this area, especially for Christians. Not necessarily that any Christian should publish anything they feel like, but allowing more pastors and elders to publish their sermons, or seeing more books published as a result of a conference. And making all of this more accessible, search-able, and shareable is the driving force at work.

Fun With the Kindle (Screenshots!)

In technology on February 17, 2008 at 8:17 pm

One thing I really love about the Kindle is that there are tons of free books out there if you are willing to go through the agony of converting the file and then using USB to transfer them rather than just buying them and downloading them wirelessly over Sprint’s cellular network. It’s beautiful, you can convert all of the books that aren’t copyrighted and end up with this (click the pictures to make them bigger):

Works of Jonathan Edwards Screenshot

but then sometimes things are not well in Kindleland and the converter gives you this:

City of God Screenshot

But how can you complain with free?

Tim Keller's The Reason For God on the Amazon Kindle

In theology on February 16, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Amazon KindleSo, I’ve been evaluating the Amazon Kindle for a few days now. I will write a full review as soon as I have a better feel for it and after I use it in church services and Bible studies, but…it is awesome so far, much better than I was thinking it was going to be. Anyways, more to come.

One thing struck me last night, I looked for Tim Keller’s book for the Kindle on the 14th when it was released, but it was not available on the Kindle, only in hardcover form. But then I looked again last night and it was released! Then I also read the story of how the ESV was released for the Kindle. Basically, a few people commented that it would be nice to have the ESV translation on the Kindle and sure enough, Crossway released one.

My point in all this is that things seem to be moving much faster. Data is being produced in a form that allows it to be shared across all types of platforms without much difficulty. So, when I post something to my blog, I can share it on Digg, Facebook, etc. without having to tell each site what my data is and how it is formatted. In the same way, when a publisher creates a book, they can begin to publish it in many forms (hardcover, pdf, eReaders, etc.) without having to put a lot of effort into manipulating it.

So, I’m enjoying reading through my first book on the Kindle (The Reason For God). So far I like the book but I’ll wait until I’m finished before “passing judgment”. Once you figure out how to hold the device, you can lie down in bed and comfortably read through the book and actually forget that you’re reading an e-book. In just a few days I’ve gotten pretty fast at using the built-in highlighter and annotation tools on the Kindle so I’m still able to mark up the margins like I always do but now…I can search through my markings. This is one of the biggest selling points for the Kindle. Everything on it is searchable. Stay tuned for a full review once I’ve used it long enough!