Integrating an E-reader Into Your Workflow

DescriptionWe’ve written before about e-readers here at ProfHacker, and they’ve also been covered elsewhere in the Chronicle. They aren’t perfect; citing e-books poses some challenges, and it remains to be seen how Amazon’s recent addition of page numbers for Kindle books will work out.

I don’t plan to get into any debates about the merits of e-readers in this post. Instead, I’d like to share a few ways of integrating an e-reader into one’s workflow. (My comments will focus on the Kindle because that’s what I’m most familiar with; recommendations for using other e-readers are especially welcome in the comments.)

Though I find that I do a fair amount of leisure reading on the Kindle I got last year, my primary purpose in getting an e-reader was academic. I don’t like to print articles if I can avoid it, but reading on-screen for long periods of time bothers my eyes. I’ve found that the Kindle handles PDFs reasonably well, and the font size is at least tolerable in landscape mode (which cuts down on panning and zooming). Annotating PDFs on the Kindle is admittedly a pain, but I prefer to take my notes in Zotero, anyway.

Getting articles to the Kindle is no problem; they can be sideloaded directly via USB, or transferred using Calibre. (I generally prefer to use Calibre because it makes it really easy to edit the PDF’s metadata if I need to.)

Another way that I can get articles to the device is even faster: there’s a very handy Chrome extension (as far as I can tell, it’s only available for Chrome at this point) called Send to Kindle. It can handle most web pages, and if you’ve opened a PDF by clicking on a link in Chrome, it can sometimes handle that, too (this seems to depend on how the PDF is put together).

Mostly, though, I use Send to Kindle for the other purpose I most use my device for: keeping up on the very current reading that comes to my attention during the week (mostly via all the interesting links I get from my Twitter contacts). For that purpose, I also make use of another very useful service: Instapaper. Lifehacker
recently ran a post on how to get your Instapaper reading list to your Kindle. Just set things up in the Kindle section of your Instapaper account settings, and the service will create a newspaper of up to 20 of your unread articles and send it to your device on a daily or weekly basis, as you choose. I’ve been making use of this feature for about a month and have found it incredibly useful.

What about you? If you use an e-reader, what do you most use it for, and how have you integrated it into your workflow? Let us know in the comments!

[Image by Flickr user The Daring Librarian / Creative Commons licensed]

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