The concept of "hacking" the Kindle 2 hasn't gotten very far off the ground--Amazon's newest e-reader has barely seen the light of day. But even modifying Amazon's previous iteration of its portable electronic bookshelf has proved tricky at best. We haven't seen many physical hacks to the device, especially the oft-triumphed desire to turn the Kindle into a network bridge between your laptop and Amazon's Whispernet.
But that's not to say that you can't squeeze more functionality out of your newest Kindle 2 purchase. We've found five Web sites and applications that can help you maximize your Kindle's best features -- from creating your own eBooks, to replacing Amazon's paid-for content with free tools, to downloading archives of free media that's ripe for the taking! You've already plunked down $360 for your portable book reader. Why pay more?
Looking for something to read? Check out Manybooks.net, a site that provides a daily selection of around five to ten new books to read. All of the books are free and can be downloaded in a variety of formats: HTML, AZW, MOBI, and RTF, to name a few. Popular titles include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Art of War, and The Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana.
You can use this helpful application to create your own eBooks based on blank pages or pre-designed templates. But better yet, you can convert your PDFs, currently unreadable on the Kindle and Kindle 2, to friendly PRC file formats. Amazon charges ten cents to make the conversion itself--you just bought yourself one bubblegum ball!
Want to give your eyes a break? Download thousands of free audiobooks from this easy-to-use online directory. Not only are they free, but they come in both OGG and MP3 formats--the former isn't much use for your Kindle 2, however, as the device only supports MP3 files. Popular books offered by LibriVox include Les Miserables, more than 20 H.P. Lovecraft titles, and Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.
Did you know that Amazon charges you to display up-to-the-minute blog content on the Kindle? That's right. Don't expect to pull in the news from sites like Slashdot on your portable E-Reader without ponying up a $2 monthly service charge. Unless, that is, you subscribe to the free site Kindlefeeder. This service aggregates the latest content from a ton of popular blogs and delivers it, free of charge, via scheduled updates to your Kindle. If you're a blog aficionado, this could very well save you $50... or more!
Want to check on your Whispernet coverage availability before you pick up a Kindle 2? You should--plunking down $360 for Amazon's E-Reader only to find that some of its best online functionality can't connect in your area is going to be a major heartbreak. Thankfully, Sprint's "showmycoverage" site has you, well, covered.
Come on Inside
If you liked what you've seen, be sure to check out our other "inside" look at the Kindle 2--literally, what's inside the device. We've found a group crazy enough to crack open their new Kindle 2, and you'll never guess what Amazon left out of its second-generation E-Reader!