Traveling With Your Kindle

The new Kindles, Wi-Fi and 3G, from Amazon
The new Kindles, Wi-Fi and 3G, from Amazon

Updated September 2010 – this blog post is out of date

The Kindle is an electronic book reader available from Amazon. I have been using a Kindle since it was first released in December 2007 and I highly recommend it. The new Kindles (released in 2010), the Kindle Wi-Fi and Kindle 3G (free 3G + Wi-Fi), work in many countries. There are no “roaming” charges if you use the Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet for downloading when traveling in Europe.

Read more on my article about the Kindle (updated today).

Slow Europe Article – Traveling With Your Kindle (updated)

This was originally a blog post, now updated and moved to the Slow Europe site.

Published by

Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

36 thoughts on “Traveling With Your Kindle”

  1. Really? Only one book in paper form? Not to be too personal, but do you read in bed? I wonder about dropping a kindle when I fall asleep, as I sometimes do with my book (only a couple of times a week).

    Hmm, I’ve been very tempted by this, although it complicates sharing books.

    Thanks–this is good information.

  2. Yes, one book in paper format. Everything else since last April I have read on the Kindle. But I read the New Yorker magazine in paper and the New Mexican newspaper.

    When Steve got the Kindle I did not want one. I love physical books! I collect them. I have a plan that when I am very old I will reread all my favorite books that I have collected in hardcover. But once I started using his Kindle I loved it. The screen is very easy to read – not like a computer monitor – and I like reading this way.

    The one thing I miss is knowing how long a book is. There is a series of dots that progress as you read so you can see how close you are to the end, but they are not relative to the length of the book – so I don’t know if I am reading a thin book or a thick book.

    I read in bed more now – either because of the Kindle or because I am getting old. In the morning I turn on the Kindle and read thru the NY Times (scan it and read some articles). At night I read a book. If I fell asleep reading I think it would only drop down onto me. The current version is very comfortable to hold while reading sitting or laying down.

    It complicates sharing books with friends – but you can share books with Frank because both Kindles would be on the same account.

    And I can well understand someone not wanting to use a Kindle – it is a very different experience. I think it is good for travelers because you can travel with many books. I don’t know if there are any guidebooks for the Kindle.

  3. These are the books I downloaded for free from MobiPocket and put on the Kindle. Not even close to the 100 I thought I had downloaded.

  4. This might be even better for Frank than for me. He reads so MANY books (mysteries and thrillers) so fast. Hmm, I’ll have to think about it.

  5. Judith was asking about file size on her blog:

    The book files are not that large since they are text with no graphics. My books range from 274KB to 1,009KB (1,009KB is about 1MB). One issue of the NY Times is 1 MB.

    Looking through the list of files on my Kindle, I see a couple of books that are larger (the smaller books are .AZW, the larger ones that are 2 – 5 MB are .AZW1). I am not sure why some of the books have such large files (but will look into it).

    You can download books samples (usually the first chapter) for free. If the sample is .AZW1 format then the book would be the larger file. Most of the books I have downloaded are small files.

    A thread on the Amazon Kindle forums says to avoid books with the .AZW1 format. I checked the book that I have in .AZW1 format (an older Peter Lovesey – The Summons) and the page is not as nicely formatted as on the other books. It almost looks like a scanned page.

    Most books are in the .AZW format – small files (half a MB or less) and the page is very readable.

  6. The new Kindle has 1.4 GB storage (From the specs – Storage: 2 GB internal – approximately 1.4 GB available for user content). Amazon says it can hold up to 1,500 books.

    The old Kindle has much less storage, but you could put in a memory card. The new one does not have a slot for a memory card.

  7. Now I have more questions. If it does not have a memory card, do you gobble up all your space with periodicals? What happens when the battery no longer takes a charge? You dump the whole Kindle?

  8. The new Kindle comes with more storage built in, so you don’t need the memory card (but it would have been nice to have one). There is a content management system that lets you easily delete old newspapers. I keep about one month of NY Times. I have not had to delete any books – but I would just move them to my computer if I needed more space.

    My battery started acting strange a couple of weeks ago (draining quickly when the whispernet connection was on) and Steve did some searching and found there were some battery problems with the Kindle 1. He did a reset on the Kindle and that seemed to fix the problem, but it is under warrenty and the battery would be replaced if there is a problem. So, it looks like you can just buy a new battery if your battery goes. I have not had battery problems with any of the electronic devices I have.

  9. Thanks for writing this post and explaining Kindle. I have been curious about it and this post clears up a lot of questions. My big question is…can you read he end of the book before reaching the end of the book? Yes, I am bad! I have rarely read an entire book before peeking at the ending. Regarding sharing, now if everyone had a Kindle, you could just lend your Kindle (swapping Kindles) to share books. Maybe in 10 or 20 years?

  10. My Sonicare toothbrushes always stop taking a charge months before I can return to the US to buy one, and that means a dead duck. It irritates me.

    eg thought there was some kind if online storage that allowed you to re-download in case something happened that also might allow you to free up space. Anyway, she is stalling because it doesn’t fold in the middle and therefore feel like a book. My books always close themselves up if I let go, so I thought it was good that they didn’t fold. Can’t please everyone.

  11. We don’t get our Kindle 2s until tomorrow or Thursday, but they are out today. Crunchgear shows the unboxing on video and compares the Kindle 1 to the Kindle 2.

    Judith – I have not had any problems with batteries on electronics (but I used a manual toothbrush 🙂 ). There is online storage – everything you buy is up on Amazon – so you are right, no need to backup onto computer. I have not backed up any of my stuff.

  12. I just linked to an article in the IHT that answers even questions that didn’t occur to me. Amazon will install a new battery at $60. That’s a good thing. At euro 124 it’s a bite to have your toothbrush dead in 4 years and dying in 2, but at $359 I would hate to lose my 1500 books.

  13. JUDITH! I am in the US until the end of March but when I am back in Torino we should talk…I just ordered a Kindle….more soon!!! baci…and to Pauline as well!

  14. Pauline, aside from novels and periodicals, can you download your favorite travel books and guides? This sounds like it would definitely same some weight and space in the suitcase for those of us who like to “travel light”. 😉

  15. Are there any sites where you can rent books to download to the Kindle? Can you check out electronic books and download to the Kindle? I just got my Kindle 2 and I can’t put it down!

  16. I have not heard of any sites where you can rent an e-book for the Kindle, but maybe they will have something in the future – it is a great idea. After all, they rent movies from Amazon. Can you picture Public Libraries loaning out Kindle books?

    Don’t forget there are a lot of free books (older books) at MobiPocket.

    I use my Kindle 2 every day too. New York Times in the morning, reading books in the evening.

  17. Am I correct that I can recharge my Kindle 2 in Europe without a converter — I know that I will need to have a physical converter for the power plug in?

  18. That is correct. I checked the plugs for both the Kindle 1 and 2, and they both say 100 – 240V (plus we used our Kindle 1 in England last year without a converter). All you need is an “adapter” for the plug that converts the shape of the US plug to a European shape. I am going to add this to the main blog post.

  19. Pauline–I emailed you (I guess, since I don’t see my post here) about whether to get the Kindle 1 (since it’s cheaper) or the Kindle 2 and you recommended the 2. I bought it and have had it for about 2 weeks. I read a 500-page book on it (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo–Swedish thriller–fun read) and used the text-to-speech quite often, which I liked much more than I thought I would (I prefer the male voice in this instance). I get the NY Times and the NYorker magazine, and I can’t wait to take in my 7-week trip to Italy (and Paris) on the 22nd. It’s such a pleasure to read on–I was very surprised. I love having it in my purse (in my Belkin carrying case–very nice zippered case) for when I’m out by myself in a restaurant. Have already downloaded the Rick Steves Paris ’09 and Rome ’09 books and an Italian phrase book. The only negative so far is that tables are hard to see even when magnified (there are a lot of tables in the Idiots Guide to Italy phrasebook–or whatever it’s called). I tell all my friends about it; wish I could get a commission from Amazon. Anybody reading this, if you’re on the fence, do it–it’s worth the $359 if reading is a regular part of your life, as it is mine. It’s very pleasant to hold even–just the right size. Anyway, thanks again, Pauline for suggesting the 2!

  20. Hello, Are there sufficient books in italian or french for the kindle? what about french or italian newspapers? also, can you download ny times or another us newspaper to your kindle using the computer connection and the VPN?



  21. I just searched the Kindle Store (googled it–you can too), on the Amazon website. There are 6 French language books–all Alexandre Dumas(!) There are none in Italian. (There is maybe one in German and one in Romanian, of all things). Sufficient (hehe)? The new books in Kindle edition seem to roll out slowly, e.g., I was looking for a particular edition of “Dead Souls” which is a more recent translation by the best Russian translators currently working (Pevear & Volokhonsky) and for some reason they have 5 other translations, but not the good one–altho’ they have the hardcover, softcover, etc. on Amazon.

    I have myself downloaded Corriere della Serra. It’s the only Italian newspaper available currently. Le Monde and Le Echo are available in French. Re the VPN that Pauline talks about–I haven’t been to Europe yet with my Kindle (leaving for Italy the 22nd, so I can post back) but I don’t see other people on the Kindle message board thread I just looked at mentioning the need for VPN in Europe, just a USB connection to your Kindle. I think you do need an American credit card–but what I just read is you can buy Amazon gift cards (don’t need American card for that) and make purchases overseas using those. I assume they come in various denominations. You CAN download the NY Times on a daily basis–either first to your computer or directly to the Kindle attached as an external hard drive, which is nice for me to find out–wasn’t sure.

    If you have more questions, I would google them. There are extensive Kindle message boards out there apparently–separate from the Amazon site and on the site.

    Also, none of these answers seemed to be “official” responses of the manufacturer so perhaps you can email directly to the Kindle sales website.

  22. Hi! We are traveling today (with our Kindles) on our way to Kauai. Thanks for answering Pat. We needed the VPN to purchase but that was over a year ago and it may have changed. Steve says there are free foreign language books – he has downloaded some. He will post with his sources for these books tomorrow. He said try searching amazon for “french language” or italian because they put that in the book title. And check out mobi – they have sections by language in their free books.

  23. I just talked to somebody at Amazon and while talking to the person (about returning a Kindle book), I asked about downloading content in Europe. He says there’s no problem for someone whose registered address is the U.S. (i.e., you registered your Kindle with a U.S. street address). He said people living in Europe buy Kindles and return them when they realize they are unable to purchase content. Shouldn’t Kindle be making that clearer? I don’t really know more than this. There must be ways of getting around this but I don’t know them.

  24. I have downloaded mobibooks to my Kindle. I can see them via my computer in the Kindle, but they don’t show up in the list of books on my Kindle 2. Is there a step that I am missing?

    Thank you.

  25. The mobibooks have to be in the Documents folder on the Kindle. And they have to be the free mobibook version (unencrypted). The purchased Mobibooks don’t work on the Kindle (but there is a way to do this, Steve says, but it is complicated). Let me know if this does not solve the problem.

  26. I think that Amazon has changed how the Kindle works with their website since we last used it in Europe (Feb 2008). At that time Amazon checked the IP address of the computer when doing a purchase on (the US site). Some of the TV Network sites also did this. You had to run a VPN to “fake” a US IP address.

    It seems like this has changed so that now they check that you have a US Amazon account. We will be in Europe in June and will check and report back.

    Any European who wants to purchase a Kindle and use it in Europe must set up a US account with a US address and probably a US credit card (am not sure about this), then they can use the Kindle in Europe but cannot access WhisperNet so have to connect to their computer to download books.

    Amazon states clearly that the Kindle is for use in the US only. I think it will be released in other countries eventually.

    I use my Kindle 2 every day to read the NY times and books. Recently I purchased a book in PDF format from, emailed it to my Kindle email address (you set this up when you get your Kindle) and the PDF appeared on my Kindle (they charge $0.10 to do this).

  27. We are in Europe now with our Kindles. You do not need to use a VPN (virtual private network) to make Kindle purchases on Amazon, but you do need an account and a US credit card. I changed this blog post into a permanent article on Slow Europe – .

    One thing that I have noticed is that the sorting of your list of books by most recently read does not work. I think the Kindle must be able to connect via Whispernet to Amazon to maintain this sort, but it cannot connect when not in the US.

  28. A friend of mine in USA is offering to get me a Kindle and download with many of his books (luckily we have some of the same tastes). Apparently Amazon has gotten much better in Europe then earlier days, but reviews from UK still indicate pricier downloads then USA and charges to use the network in each country.

    Italy has excellent 3G coverage: (
    and Amazon is rapidly increasing the number of newspapers, magazines and books you can put on a Kindle: (

    I wonder if anyone has used their Kindle in Italy to download books and if there is a charge and what are their thoughts?

  29. When I was in Italy last year, I had the USA-only Kindle but had a computer with me and downloaded directly from computer. That was quite easy (just bring the cable natch) but I have no idea about the newer international Kindles. I would be interested to find out. Let us know.

  30. I recommend the Passeport Gastronomique series of menu translators for the Kindle. I have one and love it. Amazon sells them and they are avail. for many Euro Countries

  31. I am curious.. I live in the US and I am planning to spend a year in France. Is there a big difference between buying the 3g kindle, or the basic one? I don’t plan to read newspapers often, but just use the kindle for reading books. Do you have any advice?

  32. I am living in England now with a US Kindle – the older version that does not work on WiFi or roam on 3G outside the US. I purchase books on my computer (via WiFi access where I am living) then transfer them to the Kindle.

    With the new Kindle you can get the less expensive WiFi only version and purchase and download books only when you find free WiFi (or WiFi you can login to). However, the WiFi + 3G version will be easier to use because you can purchase and download books from your Kindle anywhere. You can also do a few online things – like check email, use Twitter.

    If you will have a computer with you and plan on finding WiFi access for it, you can use the WiFi only Kindle then. But if you are not traveling with a computer and don’t know when and if you will come across WiFi, I would go for the 3G version so you can be sure to get online at some point. And you could also use it to do a few online things.

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