Kindle Book Reader is perfect for RVers

author image

September 13, 2009

kindle I love to read, but I don’t get to do it anywhere near as much as I like. Books are heavy, so we don’t carry many in the RV. The hardest part of selling our house and getting rid of all our possessions was the bookshelves full of books. I have to *really* want a book to buy it, or I have to luck into a good find at a park’s lending/trading library.

All that has changed with the Kindle.

Now, I’ll be listening to the radio and hear them talking about a new book.  The latest example was ‘The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google.’  I like what I hear and think I may enjoy reading that book.  Before the Kindle, I would have made a note somewhere that, next time I’m in a bookstore, I want to look for that book.  That was also Before RVing. We just don’t go to bookstores anymore.  With the Kindle, here’s how it goes:

  • I hear about a book, either on the radio or in conversation
  • Within minutes, I can be holding my Kindle, connected wirelessly to the Internet and Amazon, and search for the availability of that book.
  • If I find it, and the odds are very good, I can download a sample for free
  • If, after reading the sample, I decide I like it, I can purchase the complete book – usually for $9.99.  It gets downloaded to my Kindle within a minute or two.

In this age of instant gratification, that’s the ultimate!  And, speaking of AGE … I love the feature that you can increase the size of text!  I also love that you don’t need both hands to read it, unlike a paperback.  In the picture, my left thumb is positioned on the ‘next page’ button.  The bar all along the right side is also a ‘next page’ button.

I’ve had the Kindle for almost a year now – so, how much do I use it?  It seems to go in spurts.  A friend gave me a couple of good paperback books this summer, so that kept me away from the Kindle for a while.  I loved the books, but it was so irritating to need both hands to turn the pages!  When I finished those books, my Kindle was waiting with hundreds of books ready to download.  This past week, I’ve been sick in bed a few days, I almost wonder if I got sick on purpose to spend more time just me and my Kindle!  I finished the non-fiction I had been reading, then downloaded a New York Times best seller, “South of Broad” to keep me company.

I no longer need to get rid of books either.  Every book I’ve downloaded to my Kindle is still there.  It can hold hundreds.  And, they’re all searchable.  For example, I remember that one of my recent books had something to say about Nikola Tesla, but I don’t remember what exactly.  I just use the search function on my Kindle to look for ‘Tesla’ and, voila, it locates the passages for me.

So, what’s the catch?  It’s expensive.  Mine was a gift … thank you Pop Guld! … but I know that it cost $399.  It has recently come down to $299.  Realize that includes the wireless Internet access – there is no monthly fee.  After the purchase price, the only money you will spend is for the books you buy.

Anyone else out there have a Kindle?  Tell us what you think.

Leave a Reply


  1. Pingback: My Homepage

  2. the kindle also will read to you in both female or mail voice. can not say enough how much i like the kindle. we are also RVers and it is great for us. again you will not regret getting one even at the price.

  3. Howard Rawley


    Reading with interest all the info on Kindle type readers … I am looking for a another option. Wife is legally blind and listens to books on tape and books from Cracker Barrel while we are traveling, from library when we are at home. Is there another system out there that would allow download of books she could “listen” to?

    It sounded like there might be, but I haven’t found it yet.



  4. Jim Marxen

    We listen to unabridged books, first for several years on the iPod and lately on the iPhone. Both my DW and I get “car sick” when trying to read while we are traveling. Like other readers who listen to books, we find it convenient to listen while at the laundromat, grocery stores, etc. We use primarily the Audible web service ( where we pay $19.95 a month for two selections. My understanding for new subscribers, the monthly price has gone up a few dollars, but it is much cheaper than say you can buy abridged books at Barnes and Nobles. Your monthly credits can carry over from month to month so if you only download one book this month due to the lack of anything interesting, but find three or four books being released around the same time, no problem.

    We own the books and have audio books going all the way back to 2002. All you need to do is back up your collection and reload as needed. You download the books from the internet.

    We found that within the last year or two, the audio books come out when the new hardbacks are published or within a week or two. They usually offer any book that is on the NY Times best seller’s list, among others. can also create CD’s for these books as well for no additional cost but need to use Apple’s iTunes to do this. Perhaps if there are other ways, a reader can identify the programs (both PC or Mac?)

    We also have several web sites where you can download free classics, usually in MP3 format for these can be played on just about any player. (;;; and the University of Florida’s

  5. Barb

    I also pass on the expensive Kindle and Sony types of reader. I too listen to my books on my Creative Zen Mp3 device. I download the books free from my library anywhere I happen to be. My player is compatible with both WMA and Mp3 formats and has bookmarking as well. I currently have about 20 books on my Zen, about 80% of them are new novels.

    So I save space, money and have the convenience of downloading by WiFi. You do need a computer, but I had that long before buying my Mp3 player. BTW, you can now download the Sony formatted books from most libraries.

  6. Bill

    Ron, I checked out the link for the review of the PocketPro. Seems like the reviewer is pretty impressed with it. Wireless is not that important to me. I would rather download my books to my PC and then load them on the device. That way I can backup the files and no one (think Amazon) can reach into my device and delete or change my content. At the bottom of the review of the PocketPro are some links and one is a review of the Sony Touch PRS-600. I kind of like the capability of making notes in my books which the PocketPro does not allow. The Sony also supports PDF with DRM and according to another link on that page for the Sony Reader Daily Edition they are coming up with something that will support loans from public libraries. I like the sound of that.

    By the way I wrote an email to the PocketPro people ( and apparently they support DRM protected PDF files and DRM protected Mobipocket but not at the same time. They said:

    “We do support both DRM formats, but you can’t run both at the same time.
    You can switch updates as provided on our website.”

    I am now going to investigate the differences between the Sony Touch PRS-600 and the Sony Reader Daily edition talked about in that last review.

    Any comments?

  7. Julia

    My children went together and bought me the Kindle2 for my birthday/Mother’s Day. I read it everyday. I have downloaded several free books that I would not have read if not for free and they are some of the best ones that I have ever read.

    I would highly reccomend the Kindle 2 to any reader. I usually read a book every 1-2 weeks and check the Amazon book list 2-3 times a day to see what they have added to the top 100 lists.

    Whenever our rv leaves, the Kindle is going too.

  8. Bill, here’s a recent review on ZDNet that compares the PocketPRO with a couple of the Sony devices. (Keep in mind, while none of these currently have any kind of wireless connectivity, a Sony with wireless is due out soon, and Astak told me recently that they will also have one before the end of the year. But that will likely raise the price…)

    Denise, regarding your question about sharing, if the book in question has DRM, then no, you cannot share your ebooks with a friend unless you also share a device that the ebook recognizes as yours. The vast majority of large publishers still insist on applying DRM (Digital Rights Management) to their ebook releases, which restricts things like sharing, printing, copying etc. The publisher (not the distributor or retailer like us) decides what those restrictions will be. Most do not allow printing or copying, and no DRM titles can be legally shared.

    Although it varies, sometimes DRM titles in the Adobe Digital Editions format allow 1-2 printings. Again, the publisher decides .

    That said, a few publishers are gradually coming over to the open standards side and putting books out in non-DRM formats like open PDF or non-DRM ePub. With these you are basically on the honor system. Most publishers still prefer you do not share them, definitely don’t want you to post them online, but there is nothing technically stopping you, and you are allowed to print/copy for your own use. They might have “social DRM” (which is simply a watermark on the page stating the owner’s email and/or name, etc. – we are big advocates of this approach) but no actual control keeping you from doing with it as you wish.

    (For example, on our site, ebookpie, we’ll launch with over 200K titles, but only about 15,000 will be open PDFs, mostly from either progressive technical publishers or self- published authors using We are lobbying other publishers to join the open standards camp so that we can break their books into chapters for a by-the-slice approach, but it is a slow process.)

    Regarding “how-to” books, same answer. Most now have DRM, but we are working to convince reference publishers why it makes such good sense to remove DRM from at least some of their catalog. We want to extract chapters from these books so to enable users to combine chapters from different books (the iTunes model again – when you travel to Italy, why should you buy the whole “Guide to Italy” when you are only visiting Florence and Venice?)

    As for reading the iPod Touch on the beach, last year I spent 6 months working from beaches in Mexico, and I spent some of that time parked on my beach chair reading from the iPod Touch. Was it better than a reading a paperback in the sun? No. But with an umbrella it was fine, and a lot of the time I was within range of a wireless signal, so I could work/email/chat/browse etc. which meant I could tell my wife I was working 🙂

  9. I have a ZUNE, At present I have 14 full length novels, in it, with much capacity, left. I listen to the books, I do not read them. This works great for me, while doing housework, taking a walk, or traveling , laying on the beach. It is having a story, read to you, many nights I fall to sleep listening, then I have to back it up in the morning. This is of course very easy on the eyes.

  10. Karen Gibson

    I have the original version of Kindle and have had it now for about a year. I too drool over the new Kindle but really can’t justify the extra money for the few new features. I do miss color though and will be looking into the Asus color e-reader when it comes out. Thanks to whoever pointed out the Asus.

    I don’t see any reason why a person who is an avid reader couldn’t have more than one e-reader. Especially with Christmas coming. Sometimes a loved one is searching for a nice gift for you and an e-reader would fit the bill. Also, if you traveled enough to keep your e-reader charged up, why couldn’t you have one in your RV and keep one in the house?

    I love not having to worry about storing heavy books or trying to find someone to pass my book to or worse yet, find a way to recycle them. Not sure I would like an e-reader that opens like a book, though, one of the things I like about my Kindle is that it is small and especially light weight, a bonus for those of us with aging or ailing hands.

    About backlighting – I would like the option. I would like a reader with a switch that I could flip if I wanted to read in bed or the car or otherwise darkened room.

    Thanks to all of you for the great info, opinions and ideas.

  11. Ann

    I love my original Kindle. I have looked at the newest ones with longing, but am satisfied with mine. I have downloaded many free books from Amazon. I do find that most of the newer books cost $9.99. but you have them forever. I have downloaded many books for my grandchildren and the think it is cool to use my Kindle. I especially love to download and read books that are somewhat out of print and/or not in fashion. I have read many classics for free and many sets of short stories. No, you can’t share it with a friend unless you give up your Kindle–heaven forbid!!

    I take it everywhere and find it is a great companion when I have a few minutes and very easy on the eyes as well as light weight.

    I wouldn’t trade it.
    Ann from MN

  12. Barbara Kirkhart Palmer

    I love my Kindle 2 – but agree that an open format would be far preferable to being locked in to Amazon’s library and data format. I’m not at all technical, and have found the Kindle 2 very easy to use – I haven’t most of its features, as I’ve just been reading for pleasure rather than research, but should I ever get around to doing some writing for publication, I know I’ll value its notes and annotation features!

  13. Denise from Ark

    This is fascinating, and since we have such knowledgeable people giving us their time, I have a couple of questions. I ask your forgiveness in advance, because they will show an astonishing depth of ignorance on my part.

    The first has to do with costs. I am notoriously cheap when it comes to buying books, and am a frequent shopper at Amazon’s “lowest price” when it comes to to books as anything except gifts. In fact, I buy used books almost exclusively. This PARTICULARLY applies to my beloved trashy novels, which are absolutely once-arounds.

    Sooo…if you have a wonderful book and want to share it with your friend, will you be able to loan the book? Or will each person’s possession of a book be limited to the individual purchase?

    I also have a deep and abiding love of reference and “how-to” books. My library at home is filled with gardening, craft, and cookbooks. Needless to say, I can envision the desire to share recipes or or knitting patterns or anything of that sort with friends. Can anything from the eBook readers ever be printed?

    The final question I have is in regards to the use of the iPod touch. We bought our daughter a Touch for Christmas a few years ago, and this weekend she finally bought herself an iPhone, rendering her Touch obsolete (for her.) I don’t have an mp3 player, so I was interested in taking it since she doesn’t need it now. (Her backlight isn’t working right, however, so, depending on the size of the repair bill, it might be moot.) The question I have is, how can you read it on the beach? I can’t even see my phone in normal daylight.

    If anyone doesn’t mind sharing valuable time with a complete ignoramus, I’d love to know more about this.

    Denise from Ark

  14. Bill

    I would love an eBook reader but I want mine to allow me to borrow books from my public library. These books are in Adobe DRM protected PDF read by Adobe Digital Editions or MobiPocket also DRM protected.

    I actually wrote Amazon and asked them if I could read these on a Kindle II. They replied that they do not support either format in DRM Protected versions.

    From what I read the Easyreader Pocket Pro by Astak mentioned by Ron Tomich in the first comment does support both of these formats according to the website.

    I would sure like to see someone review that device here. It is on special till the end of September for only $199 according to the website. Somebody review it fast so I can get my order in before the price goes up.

  15. Mary, just to be clear, the iPod Touch is not tied to any phone plan as it is not a phone (we also use Verizon). It connects via any available wireless signal (I use my satellite connection, coffee shops and RV park wireless signals to download books).

    Regarding other backlit devices, the only real choices this moment are other PDAs of more or less the same size (none of the current list of dedicated e-readers are backlit). However, several interesting e-readers are coming soon, from famous and unknown makes, and many from Asia. The ones I presently find the most creatively interesting are the Plastic Logic (a larger, flat panel device – unfortunately they just signed an exclusive deal with Barnes & Nobel – see below) and the color Asus e-reader. Asus has had great success making low-cost netbooks of good quality. Their upcoming and relatively low cost (under $200) color e-reader has many ebook enthusiasts salivating. It will open like a book with two screens (one can display a browser as well). Even better for RVers, it will have Skype capability (!). Here’s an early look (it is due out next year).

    Jason, you are right the Kindle reads Mobi. That is of course because Amazon owns Mobi and the Kindle AZW format is based on it, so I tend to lump them in with Amazon, perhaps unfairly. We may offer Mobi titles ourselves, but sadly for the very large Mobi community Amazon just last week announced they will no longer allow publishers to upload Mobi-formatted titles to the Mobi or Kindle stores. The Mobi community fears it will be the death knell for that format. (Mobi has been around a long time and has a wide following in the Windows world.)

    And in case I suggested otherwise, I did not mean to dispute that the Kindle is a quality product, or that it was a mistake to purchase it. If it works for you, then it was a good buy. Obviously many people have been thrilled with it. I only think it should be your right to be able to get and read books from whatever ebook store you want (including ours :-). And I thought it important to add that there are other options that do allow this flexibility, with many more on the way (some that may make the current crop of devices seem primitive in the long run, particularly if and when Apple jumps in with their oft rumored “iPad”…).

    Amazon certainly deserves props for being a real catalyst in jumpstarting the long-awaited growth in the ebook world, and frankly we would love to carry Kindle titles, but Amazon does not allow other shops to carry them or other devices to read them (unless you have the services of a good hacker). Now Barnes and Noble has bought another prominent format, called “eReader”, and will likely restrict the Plastic Logic reader to that format only, so we have a wannabe VHS/Betamax situation shaping up, which is never good for consumers. Only this time, there are other good options beyond these two.

    All consumers should urge publishers and device makers to adopt the universal ePub standard, which would make any ebook readable on any e-reading device, and remove DRM from their eBooks so that readers can truly “own” their books (you really are only renting those Kindle books, as those owners of “1984” recently discovered). But book publishers seem determined to repeat the mistakes made by the music industry, so we may have to wait a bit longer.

    In the meantime, I’ll get back to my novel. Happy ebook reading!

  16. 911jason

    While Ron is right that there are many alternatives to the Kindle, each with pros and cons compared to the Kindle.

    He is wrong that you are “locked” into only buying books in Amazon’s proprietary format. There are thousands of titles available for free or purchase on many e-book sites all over the internet in the mobi format, which the Kindle reads with no problem at all.

    I think the main reason that the Kindle has received such widespread coverage and praise is it’s ease of use and the fact that you don’t need a computer to use it at all! This is a big plus for many tech-phobic people. It is also really nice to just download books directly to the device while browsing the store. Speaking of browsing the store, you can do so directly from the Kindle or from your computer. Using either method, you can wirelessly send a sample or the whole book directly to the Kindle with no cable or pc required.

    Just wanted to point this out — “Full Disclosure” and all…

    If anyone wants more information, visit the very active community at ….

  17. Helen

    After being frustrated finding good books on a 3 month rv trip, I bought the Kindle 2. I love it. I manage the cost by buying special offers at low prices, or even free, and downloading free classics, as well as the occasional best seller. If I read a review of a book that sounds interesting, I look for older books by the same author that may be offered for less than $9.99. I love the fact I can read the Kindle sitting in the sun, or the passenger seat with the sunlight streaming in. If it was backlit you couldn’t do that. I did get the Amazon “mighty brite LED light”, and it works well. I am definitely hooked, and waiting for the next neighborhood garage sale to clear out a lot of my paper books.

  18. Thank you, Chris, for discussing the Kindle and you, Ron, for pointing our the alternatives out there. For me, I purchased the Kindle 2 and love it, plus all the extra room in the RV by not carrying around shelves of books. That said, I (and my husband) would like it better if it contained a backlight as does Ron’s iPod Touch. If anyone knows of another device containing that feature, I’d love to hear about it. The iPod Touch would be too small for me and not feasible since we are tied into Verizon.

  19. Thanks for telling about some of the many advantages ebooks bring to RVers. My wife and I live and work full time in a 24ft Class C, and as lifelong book lovers – both personally and professionally – we previously lugged around boxes of books we could not part with, which inevitably cramped our already quite limited space. After a surprisingly quick adjustment, we now read ebooks almost exclusively. Huzzah! More space in the RV, and hundreds of thousands of books available with a few clicks. What’s not to like?

    That said, I feel compelled to state that, while certainly a satisfying device for some, the Kindle is (despite what Amazon might want you to believe) far from the only ebook game in town, either as an e-reading device or as an e-content store. It is only one of an increasing variety of ever-improving e-reading choices RVers should consider, most of which offer a superior solution to the Kindle (more on that below).

    (Full disclosure – I’m a longtime veteran of the tech publishing industry with a lot of early experience in creating and delivering ebooks to what was initially a small, tech-dominated market but is now quickly moving mainstream. I am also co-founder of an innovative ebook store called (launching in beta soon). E-reader device manufacturers provide us with test-models for our review process so that we can educate our customers about what the choices are (there are many, and more are coming all the time). As a result we get to try out a lot of devices – and we’ve tried a lot of different ebook stores – so we have some opinions.

    I’m also an advocate of open standards, hardware compatibility, and choice. The Kindle is a closed system and is not friendly with other devices or ebook formats.

    For example, my wife (and partner) currently prefers the form and function of the Sony Reader 505, which has some similarities to the Kindle in terms of size and screen, but while it does not read all the ebook formats our store offers, neither is it locked to one proprietary Kindle-like reading format.

    On the other hand, I currently do ALL my reading (and I read a few books a week) on the the iPod Touch. While some find the small screen uncomfortable, I love the size and easy touch-screen page turning, which enables me to read and turn pages with only one hand (I use my thumbs). I also love (and my wife appreciates) the back-lit screen which allows me to read at night in the RV without a night-light (for years I wore one of those little miner’s lights strapped around my head). I even read on the beach with it.

    Next week we’ll be testing the 5″ Astak PocketPRO, which early reviews suggest may be a real winner as well. Reads virtually any format (well, except the Kindles – Amazon doesn’t all that).

    The point is, choice is good, and knowing what the choices are and the pros and cons of each is so much better, particularly in an fast growing industry like this where increasing competition is driving the market and new features are being developed all the time. By virtue of its massive built-in customer base and marketing clout Amazon has managed to portray the Kindle as the preferred solution, but some industry analysts speculate that, in the long run, the Kindle may not even survive as a dedicated e-reading device. That may or may not happen, but regardless, book-loving consumers would be well served to consider at least a few alternatives before making this transition.

    Also, if you get locked into the Kindle, you also get locked into Amazon’s proprietary ebook format, which means you cannot use the Kindle to get and read ebooks from any of the other uniquely excellent ebook stores that are popping up. Why limit your shopping choices? (Imagine you were only allowed to use one shopping cart in your life, and that shopping cart only fits into the doors of Wal-mart stores – you can’t go anywhere else with it. Sound like a good idea?) While I understand Amazon’s reason’s for wanting to capture and control this market, I believe in open source standards and consumer choice.

    All that said, as a fulltime RVer, I strongly recommend the virtues of taking ebooks on the road. Creates more space for other things to trip you up, like wine cases, swim fins, tool boxes…

    — Ron