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kindle paperwhite & ubuntu & foreign languages

My experience with Kindle Paperwhite (best technical solution I found so far to take books with me on the beach)  has been more than positive, but a few tricks made a big difference (from the point of view of a Linux user):

– I installed Calibre, the library management software (apt-get install calibre)

– I opened in Calibre the pdfs that  I wanted to be able to read on my Kindle (containing text, not photographs of pages) and converted them to mobi format (I converted to mobi, not epub as by default,  as I noticed that only in mobi format the Kindle option to select  font size was available. Or changing default behaviour:  calibre preferences -> behaviour -> prefered output format -> mobi.


Special tricks for foreign language learning (German in my case)

– optionally – I set the Kindle interface to German (I recommand changing interface only if already mastering the language at an intermediary level)

– I set the preferred dictionary to the default German-German dictionary (comes free with the Kindle).  I also bought from Kindle Shop the  Collins Concise German-English  dictionary, which is integrated with the Kindle. Now I can use the Kindle as a dictionary (I  go to search, select the dictionary – if it is not already selected, write the word in German and search it). No need to switch to German keyboard, if I keep a letter longer pressed, a popup allows me to choose a corresponding German special character (the umlouts).

But the best is that if I read a German book, when I select a word and keep it pressed, the translation pops up (from my default dictionary).

For instance: I go to a  German Wikipedia article, I go to print/export  and download the epub format. Then I convert it from the command line (Ubuntu Calibre graphical interface converts books only as English – or the corresponding interface language, does not have yet the option to set language per book):

ebook-convert PabloPicasso.epub –language de

Then I open the converted mobi file (with German language in metadata) in Calibre graphical interface


And the most important part, putting the files on my Kindle:

– I connect the Kindle with a cable to my laptop, with a standard usb cable (the same cable that I use to charge/connect my Android smartphone) and open it

– From the Calibre graphical interface I right click on a book (after I verified that I correctly set the author and title) and select “Send to device” -> “Send specific format to” -> “Main memory” and make sure that I send the mobi format.

Last but not least the Kindle has an option to switch reading to landscape view (for even bigger fonts, for those of us that want to protect eyes from fatigue in any way possible).

 So I can have a ton of books with me wherever I go, including an incredibly powerful contextual dictionary. No buttons, only touchscreen, the battery seems to hold forever and the pages are as perfect in the dark as  in the bright sun, I can set the fonts as big as I want and I can read texts from other sources than the Kindle bookshop. I am very happy with my Kindle Paperwhite.










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