I have a Kindle…now what? (2010)

I have a Kindle…now what? (2010)

This is an updated version of a post that first appeared in ILMK on December 25, 2009.  The changes reflect then new Kindle models introduced this year.

Welcome to the Klub!

If you just got a Kindle (as a gift, or maybe you bought it for yourself with or without gift certificates you got), this post is for you.  That’s not that it won’t help you veteran Kindleers (people who have Kindles…it’s like musketeers): it certainly may.

It’s just that I want to make some suggestions on “first steps”…that Quick Start guide is nice, but there is more you can do to get the most out of your Kindle.

NOTE: I am not addressing the Kindle 1 in this post.  It is no longer available new from Amazon, and the instructions would be quite different.  I will address the current Kindle 6″ (wifi or wifi & 3G) which I’m going to refer to as the Kindle 3, the 9.7″ Kindle DX, and the previous model, the Kindle 2 (which was briefly for sale on Black Friday this year).

Initial use

Kindles are very easy to use.   Your Kindle should have a User’s Guide and a dictionary on it (two dictionaries on the Kindle 3) when you get it.  You can start reading right away.  You probably won’t need to charge it first, although you might.

Your Kindle will probably be asleep.  For any Kindle, slide the power switch on the top of the Kindle (it’s on the bottom on the Kindle 3) to your right as you face the screen for about a second, then release.  It should wake up.

There is a home button on your righthand side.  Click that…the button pushes in on the side towards the middle of the Kindle, by the way…not the outer edge.  With the Kindle 3, it is a button on the keyboard, rather than on the edge of the Kindle.

You’ll see some “titles”.  Use your five-way (the little joy-stick like thing in the bottom right of the Kindle) to move up to a title.  I call that movement “flicking”, and you may find it easiest at first to use a fingernail, but you’ll get used to it quickly.  Click when you get to a title (push the 5-way down, like a regular button).  With a Kindle 3, you’ll have a little square with a raised edge.  Click on the edge to move in that direction.

The title will probably turn black for a split second, then the title will open.

You can now use NEXT PAGE and PREV PAGE buttons to move through the book.  When you stop using your Kindle, it will eventually go to sleep again.  That’s okay. 

That’s the basic operation.


It’s likely your Kindle already has somewhat of a charge when you get it.   When you wake it up, there is a battery indicator in your top right corner of the screen.  You’ll be able to tell if it’s getting down there…the battery will start looking “eaten away”. 

To charge your Kindle, you can do one of two things.

There is a cable that came with your Kindle.  It has a normal wall plug.  You can plug that into the wall, then plug the small end into the bottom edge of your Kindle (“Vulcan fork” side up). 

You can also charge the Kindle by plugging it into a powered USB (Universal Serial Bus) port on a computer.  You can slide the wall plug off the end of the cable…it’s easy, it will come right off.  That reveals the USB plug.  Plug the large end into your computer (on a laptop and generally, it will be Vulcan fork side up…if it doesn’t fit and you have a vertical port, just flip it over and try again…it should work easily).

With the USB, the Kindle will go into USB mode, and show you a Vulcan fork screen.  If it doesn’t do that, try a different USB port…they aren’t all powered the same way.

Note: Do not disconnect the Kindle while it is showing you the Vulcan fork screen. 

To disconnect your Kindle, you have a few choices.  If you are charging from a computer and you shut the computer down, the Kindle will go back to its normal display, and you can disconnect it.

With a PC, you need to “safely remove” the Kindle.  In the bottom right corner of your computer screen (near the clock), you will typically see a grey rectangle with a green arrow. You might need to click a left facing chevron (like an arrowhead without the stick) to see it. You may see a choice for a USB storage device. After you click on that one, it should show you a choice for the Kindle. If it tells you the Kindle can not be stopped at this time, don’t disconnect it.

With a Mac, you can throw the Kindle in the trash, or CTRL+Click the icon to get a choice to eject it.

Before you pay for your first book

There is an important decision to make before you start buying books.  You’ll be able to share books with other devices on your account.  So, the question is: do you have the Kindle registered to the account you want?  It’s great to have your family members, for example, on the same account so you can share Kindle store books for one purchase price.  Officially, you can’t merge accounts (although I’ve heard of exceptions being made).  If your Significant Other already has a Kindle, and then your Kindle is registered to a different account, you won’t have access to the SO’s previously purchased books…and your SO won’t have access to the books you buy.

You can register the Kindle to an account, download books, and deregister, but that is more complicated.

If you are on the same account, you will be able to see each other’s purchases, and the payments will come from the same source.  If you don’t have shared finances, that’s a possible concern, but it’s not that hard to handle.  See this previous post for more information.

Getting books

There are two real choices for getting books from the Kindle store.   You can shop directly from the Kindle, or you can shop from your computer. 

From the Kindle itself, you do Home-Menu-Shop in Kindle Store.  You’ll need to have the wireless connection for this to work…if you don’t have it turned on, the Kindle will give you a way to do that.

When you see a book that interests you, you can: buy it; get a free sample; or put it on a Wish List. 

When shopping from your computer, you can also choose to Transfer Via Computer.  If you do that, you’ll be able to download it to your computer, and then transfer it to your Kindle using your Kindle’s USB cord.

Your Kindle purchases will be charged to your 1-click method.  That is usually a credit/debit card.  However, if you’ve applied a gift certificate/card to your account, that balance will be drawn first until exhausted.

Fun things to do with your Kindle

Okay, now it’s time to start playing around with your Kindle.

  • Get free samples! 
  • Get free books!  There are about 16,000 of these in the Kindle store as I write this
  • Go to a website!  This may not really be fun, because it’s clunky, but it’s fun to see it work.  Home-Menu-Experimental-Basic Web.  There will be some included “bookmarks”, and you can start there
  • Have it read to you!  Open a book, and do Shift+Sym (the shift is the up arrow…these are the two corner buttons in the lowest row).  It will take a minute or so to start.  This feature may be blocked by a publisher.  When you done, hit Home. 

Traveling home

If you are traveling by plane, that’s fine.  Your Kindle can go through the x-ray machine (I’ve read many reports where that is fine).  If you feel more comfortable doing it, I think you’ll be able to have the screener hand exampine it.  The flight crew will probably want you to keep it off during take-off and landing.   You should have the wireless turned off (Home-Menu) during the flight, but you’ll still be able to read. 

Protect your Kindle

  • Keep it dry (a Ziploc bag will work for this)
  • Keep it a reasonable temperature
  • Record the serial number from the back somewhere…you can also see it by doing Home-Menu-Settings, Device Info
  • I recommend getting a recovery services sticker: see this previous post
  • Let it go to sleep, or put it to sleep by moving the power button to your right for a second.  It’s better not to keep turning it on and off
  • Get it a cover, in case you drop it


Kindles tend to be pretty trouble-free, but problems do happen.  If something goes wrong:

  • Try a restart.  Disconnect it from any power source (wall or USB).  If it’s responding, do Home-Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart.  If it isn’t responding at all, hold the power button to your right for about twenty seconds, then let the Kindle restart
  • If you are having trouble with the Whispernet, try clearing your cookies and cache (in browser mode, hit Menu-Settings)
  • Read the User’s Guide.  You can read it on-line  even when your Kindle isn’t working
  • Ask the Amazon Community Kindle forum …you’ll get lots of help there
  • Ask me…you can leave a message for me in my forum at Amazon
  • Contact Amazon Customer Service

What’s next?

I’ve barely scratched the surface in this post!  You can go back through this blog (including searching it).  I’d consider subscribing to some of the Kindle blogs for more tips and tricks.  Again, I’d recommend the Amazon Kindle community…you can get suggestions from the folks there.


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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