Kindle as Research Tool

My wife bought me a Kindle (or I guess Kindle Keyboard, now) this spring; I’m back in college for graduate classes, and I imagined that it might make an ideal gadget for a student, but I didn’t have a chance to test that theory until the Fall semester.  The EM course I’m taking has a textbook (Brenda Phillips’ Disaster Recovery) and a book report/presentation for grad students (mine is on the Triangle: The Fire That Changed America); both books are available as Kindle books, so I’ve had a chance to give this experiment a solid effort.  Both books were slightly less in Kindle format than in hardback, and even though I can’t resell them now, I think the ebook format is the better value.

What I like the most so far is the ability to annotate the books in line.  It’s a little tedious to use the keyboard, so the notes are generally short, but you get a nice summary of all your notes that allows you to jump to that spot.  I’ll be interested to see how the upcoming touch keyboard Kindles work out; that might be a great solution to this problem.  In fact, I would rate the keyboard as the Kindle Keyboard’s greatest weakness.

Another boon is that the Kindle makes a decent PDF viewer. I have a fair amount of documents to read, such as FEMA guides, that I can copy over to the Kindle.  The formatting’s not always the best, and moving around the screen is a little awkward, but it works, and the search features work in the PDF’s!

There are a handful of other Kindle features I really liked.  The dictionary feature has also been handy; you highlight a word and get a definition.  Another powerful feature is the ability to search within the books.  I didn’t get a chance to use it much, but I also like the text-to-speech capabilities.  Another feature I didn’t get to use much, yet, but like is the Kindle Cloud/Kindle Android app; the ability to get at these books from other sources, if necesssary, is a handy boon.  The form factor is nice, too; I might wish for a bigger screen (I’m no spring chicken), but at least I can adjust the font size up, and it’s much easier to carry around the Kindle than 2 textbooks and an armful of printouts.  I’m only a little over 1/3 of the way through the semester at this point, so perhaps a follow up later on will be appropriate.


3 thoughts on “Kindle as Research Tool

  1. Regarding annotations…. I haven’t played much, but the Mac/PC versions of the Kindle software sync with your portable device, allowing you to create/edit annotations in one place and work on them in another. There is also a Cloud Kindle reader coming which may have the same capability (or may have already arrived). And don’t forget the Android Kindle software, works like a champ.

    • Thanks for the comment; all great points. The annotations do sync across all platforms (that I’ve tried, at least), I’ve been a little hesitant to play with it much, because one of workhorse ebooks (the textbook, which kind of makes sense) has a limitation on how many devices it can be deployed to. The Kindle Cloud Reader you mentioned is available now at and I notice that, at least through the Google Chrome browser, there is an offline mode you can configure (I wonder how *that* tweak plays against the device limitation on an ebook?).

  2. Pingback: Kindle as Research Tool, Revisited | My Big Fat EM Blog

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