Ask LH: What Else Can I Do With My New Ebook Reader?

Dear Lifehacker, I was given a new ebook reader for Christmas and I’m wondering what fun stuff I can do with it besides buy and read books from the official store. Any suggestions on how I can get a little more out of it? Thanks, Booked In

Photo remixed from nkzs

Dear NN,

While most ebook readers are billed as simple devices that you can purchases books on and read, they actually have a few hidden talents and a number of these tricks work with ebook tablet apps as well. Here are a few clever uses for your new ebook reader.

Load Up With Free Books

Don’t fancy paying for every single title on your new device? If you want to rifle through free ebooks that will work on any ereader, One Hundred Free Books, Open Culture, Hundred Zeros and Project Gutenberg are all great places to start. If you’re more into the idea of swapping books with friends (and strangers) you can do that as well on sites such as Ebook Fling.

If you’re not finding anything free you want to read, you still have a lot of options for cheap books. Amazon’s ebook and daily deals feature regular specials for the Kindle, while Bookworld offers discounted titles for Kobo. Story Bundle offers up a collection of books at a pay-what-you-want price point.

Send Any Article You Find Online To Your Device

One of the best features of any ebook reader is how great text looks compared to a computer screen. Because of that, pushing long form articles you find online from your browser to your reader makes for a much more pleasant reading experience.

Kindle owners can do this easily with the Send to Kindle extension for Firefox and Chrome. With just a click you can strip the formatting away from articles and send them directly to your Kindle.

Other ebook readers require a little more effort to get articles you find online on your ereader. The simplest way to do this is to convert articles into books with the free software Calibre and an Instapaper or Pocket account. First, set up an account with the bookmarking service of choice and save any articles you want to send to your reader. Then the process is pretty simple:

  1. Open up Calibre and click the “Fetch News” button.
  2. Search for your bookmarking service of choice.
  3. Enter in your login information and click save.
  4. Click “Download all scheduled” and your bookmarked articles will load into Calibre.
  5. Connect your ebook reader, select the articles you want to send, right-click them, and select “Send to Device.

With that, your bookmarked articles should transfer over to your device so you can read them whenever you like.

Advanced Tricks With If This Then That

We’re big fans of the webapp If This Then That. With IFTTT you can do all sorts of things, such as send articles from a Dropbox account to your Kindle, or get notified of free books. Here are a few of our favourites:

The big benefit here is instantly sending files over to your reader. This eliminates the need for paper in a lot of circumstances. You can load up your ereader with meeting notes, speech notes, and much anything else you need to read on the go.

Jailbreak Your Ereader

If you want to get a few more features from your reader then it’s time to root or jailbreak it. The Kindle is easy to jailbreak. Once it’s jailbroken, you can do all kinds of neat stuff with it, including converting it into a display for a Raspberry Pi and turning it into a weather display.

That should give you plenty more options for your new device. Enjoy!


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