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Amazon Kindle: A Tool for Missionaries

May 1, 2011 by

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The Amazon Kindle is a popular electronic reading device. It has several unique features that will make it an interesting option for missionaries.  If you want to travel light and save some money, take a look at the Kindle.

In comparison to the popular Apple and Android tablets, the Kindle is a “poor man’s tablet.”  While it cannot do everything a tablet can do, it can do several important things for less money.  The Kindle costs half of the price of most tablets, is half as thick, and the battery lasts more than twice as long.  You can browse the internet and use online services like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, and Remember the Milk, as well as read news, blogs and other websites without paying for a monthly data plan from a mobile phone network.  Amazon uses the AT&T wireless network for either 3G or EDGE service for free.  If you live where the power is limited and do much of your reading outdoors, the Kindle is a good choice.  As a missionary visiting the US, you can use the Kindle as a free internet browser while traveling, as the battery lasts several days and the display is readable in direct sunlight.  You can keep reading material handy for down time and have your sermons ready to go.

Reasons to get a Kindle:

  1. Digital Library – The first thing people think of an e-reader for is reading.  This small device can hold over 3,500 books.  If you are a reader and a traveler, you will welcome the space, weight, and shipping cost savings.
  2. Personal Documents – The Kindle can receive your files three ways.  File types include DOC, DOCX, PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC, and MOBI.
    1. USB cable – Plug the Kindle into your computer and transfer files to it without any special sync software
    2. Wi-Fi – Email files to username@free.kindle.com and they will be delivered to your Kindle for free when you have Wi-Fi coverage.
    3. 3G – Email files to username@kindle.com and they will be delivered to your Kindle for a small fee when you have Wi-Fi or 3G coverage.
  3. Long Battery Life – The Kindle is very energy efficient and boasts a one month battery life with wireless off and 10 days with wireless on.
  4. E Ink Display – The Kindle is readable in sunlight because it uses an E Ink display.  This looks very similar to a printed page and is easier on your eyes that a laptop or tablet display.
  5. Free 3G connection – The Kindle can download books and visit Wikipedia in many countries, while in the US and some other countries it can also browse the internet for free. More Coverage Maps
  6. Internet Browser – The Kindle includes a simple “experimental” internet browser.  It can browse most common internet pages, but I would recommend visiting the mobile version of common websites.  In the US, you can visit any site (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc…).
  7. Audio – The Kindle can play MP3 files and read your books to you.
  8. Notes and Highlights – You can enter notes about the book you are reading and underline important passages.
  9. Search – You can search a book, your entire library, or the dictionary.
  10. Size – The Kindle is so small and thin you may forget it is in your backpack, briefcase, or purse.  You can even put it in your pocket in a pinch.

User Tips:

  • Email DOC files (Microsoft Word documents) to your username@free.kindle.com to transfer articles to your Kindle
  • Send your sermons and college notes in a DOC file to your Kindle
  • See the Kindle Active Content for apps like a Notepad and Calculator
  • Bookmark the mobile websites as they load faster and are better formated
  • Several Bibles are free (ESV , HCSB , Message )
  • Use Google Voice to send SMSes (text messages)
  • Use Google Talk to chat online
  • Use Kinstant as a page with fast load links
  • Use Kindlefeeder for RSS feeds

About Jonathan Parsons
Jonathan thinks and writes about practical aspects of missionary service to help train and equip missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission. Jonathan ministered in East Africa with the International Mission Board. He now serves in the International Ministries office at the headquarters of Word of Life Fellowship coordinating logistical and administrative matters. He and his wife Amy live in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York.